Today marked Apple’s annual September launch event, and the Cupertino company used the highly anticipated platform to launched three major products. A new iPhone, a new Apple Watch, and wireless earbuds all made appearances as Apple went out of its way to showcase its partnerships with Nintendo and Nike.
New Phone, New Watch, New ‘Phones
Apple officially announced its second generation Apple Watch today, the Apple Watch Series 2. Positioned as a fitness and healthy living device that can also entertain and inform—even a demonstration of the popular Pokemon Go AR app on the wearable made sure to mention fitness metrics—the Apple Watch Series 2 is so waterproof it can be taken swimming. Underlining the active focus of the wearable, Apple COO Jeff Williams said in a press release, “With a powerful new dual-core processor, water resistance 50 meters and built-in GPS, Apple Watch Series 2 is packed with features to help our customers live a healthy life.”
The event culminated in the announcement of Apple’s next generation of flagship smartphone, the iPhone 7 and its larger companion, the iPhone 7 Plus. Fulfilling its whole integer status, the iPhone 7 ans 7 Plus feature improved battery life, stereo sound, water resistance, and the massive-as-usual camera upgrades—including a depth of field feature slated to arrive in a software update later this year.
Most controversially, the new iPhones have done away with the standard headphones jack. In a move that will have audiophiles connecting their favorite personal speakers via a lightning port dongle that allows for backwards compatibility, Apple announced its wireless earbuds at today’s event. Called AirPods, the wearable devices easily connect to a synced iPhone, feature discrete microphone technology that allows for handsfree calls and Siri inquiries, and can be charged wirelessly in their case.
Siri, Where Are The Biometrics?
In terms of biometrics, there were no major announcements on the stage. Despite many persistent rumors that Apple is working toward new methods of biometric authentication, like in-display fingerprint scanning or iris biometrics capabilities, the company will be sticking with Touch ID and its AI assistant Siri (which began offering speaker recognition last year). The home button on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus has been updated, however, and is now pressure sensitive and solid state. Whether those changes in design will affect the Touch ID sensor, which is embedded in the home button, is a detail that remains to be seen.
The lack of biometric innovation is in stark contrast to Apple’s competitors, specifically Samsung, which not only launched a flagship smartphone with iris authentication in August, but also promoted it with gusto. Some experts have predicted that the future of mobile biometrics will see consumers given a choice to authenticate via eye-based biometrics or fingerprint, and while Samsung has already taken major steps toward this forecasted future, Apple’s iPhone remains without an iris sensor.
Where the Apple Watch is concerned, no additional biometric functionality was announced either, though the vital biometrics tracking that is standard on fitness wearables is still presumably featured on the device.
The Apple Watch Series 2, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus will be available in 25 countries on September 16. AirPods will be available in later October.