Apple is unveiling its iPhone 5 today at an event in San Francisco, alongside a new iPod touch, iPod nano and a revamped version of iTunes. Why so certain? Oh, it all leaked earlier today, via the oh-so-2012 method of website search-engine results.
Anyway, The Appside is in London at Apple’s official simulcast event for media, where the company will be livestreaming video from the event.
Our aim is to liveblog, updating as we go along. The usual caveat being that if the venue Wi-Fi falls over as has been known to happen, there may be delays – and in the worst case scenario, we’ll post the as-live report at the end of the event.
Enough caveats: let’s go! The post will be in chronological order, so refresh and scroll down to get new entries.
5.43pm BST: Yes, here we are again. So many details have been leaked about tonight’s announcements, it’s tempting to think the event will be an anti-climax. Then again, Apple tends to have a few surprises up its sleeves, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a few of them are apps/service-related tonight.
5.51pm: A brisk run-through of the iPhone 5 rumours: taller screen with more pixels; smaller dock connector; a beefier processor and better camera. But app developers will be as interested in the details of the iTunes redesign, and possibly better recommendations in the App Store.
6pm: And we’re off, as Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage in San Francisco, who starts with the traditional update on Apple Stores (which is also the traditional ‘SHIT! I’ve got no connection. SHIT!’ scramble for laptop-toting journalists). There’s a very nice store in Barcelona, is the gist. 83m people visited Apple Stores in Q2 this year.
6.05: Over to the Mac, with 7m copies of the new Mountain Lion software downloaded so far. Which at $20 a pop, means $140m of revenues for the company. Small, though, in the scheme of things.
6.07: Now iPad (“driving the post-PC revolution at a breathtaking pace” if you want the soundbite. Cook reiterates the 17m iPad sales from Q2 figure that was announced in Apple’s last financials. “We sold more iPads than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC lineup,” he says. “Yes, we are in a post-PC world.” And Apple has sold 84m iPad so far. “Absolutely shocking when you think that this is a product category that didn’t even exist two and a half years ago.”
(*looks up Microsoft tablet presentations from 10 years ago* – although yes, Cook is talking media tablets)
6.08: Cook cites data showing iPad has a 68% share of the tablet market in Q2 2012, although his charts don’t say the source. Another chart shows iPad with 91% of the web traffic share from tablets. “I don’t know what these other tablets are doing! They must be in warehouses or on store shelves or maybe in somebody’s bottom drawer!” Oof.
6.10: Now the App Store. “We’ve recently crossed 700,000 apps in the store,” says Cook. “And 250,000 of those have been specifically tailored for iPad to take full advantage of the larger, beautiful canvas.” A new stat: 90% of apps are downloaded every month (as in downloaded at least once a month) and the average customer now is using over 100 apps – or has at least downloaded that many.
6.11: Another stat: Apple sold its 400 millionth iOS device recently. “Today, we’re taking it to the next level, making a huge leap,” says Cook, introducing Apple’s marketing boss Phil Schiller to introduce the new iPhone.
6.12: A quick historical recap, from the first iPhone’s launch in 2007. And yes, the new model is called the iPhone 5 – the sixth-generation iPhone, since you ask. “The most beautiful product we have ever made, bar none,” says Schiller, in characteristic style. “The hardware and software engineering that has gone into this product is the most challenging our team has ever taken on, and what they have accomplished is amazing.”
6.15: Very thin – 7.6mm – “the world’s thinnest smartphone” and 112g in weight. This, of course, means a blizzard of ‘NEW thinnest smartphone in the world’ announcements at Mobile World Congress next February.
6.16: The device has a Retina display, and it’s a four-inch display versus the 3.5-inch screens of previous models. “The same width but taller giving it a natural 16:9 aspect ratio,” says Schiller. There’s a fifth row of icons on the homescreens, with Apple’s preloaded apps like Safari, Mail and Calendar updated (of course) to use the extra space. This may be fun for external developers in the week ahead…
6.18: Oh, but wait, Schiller says the iPhone 5 will centre apps that haven’t been updated in their original vertical and horizontal orientations – they’ll work just as well until they’re updated to make full use of the screen. Some developers had early access to optimise their apps though. They include CNN and OpenTable, which Schiller holds up as good examples of apps making good use of the four-inch display.
6.21: The iPhone 5 includes LTE 4G connectivity – SAMSUNG LAWSUIT INCOMING! INCOMING! – just in time for Everything Everywhere (sorry, EE) to launch its 4G network in the UK. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon will support it in the US, and Cook confirms that EE will have the iPhone 5 too in the UK. Faster Wi-Fi connectivity too.
6.24: A new chip: the Apple A6, which is twice as fast for CPU and graphics processing. “Not only is it a huge jump forward in performance, it is 22% smaller,” says Schiller. “Really seeing 2x performance across the board. And developers are going to love what they can do with this A6 chip.” Talking of which… Rob Murray from EA Studios (formerly of Firemint).
6.25: He shows off Real Racing 3. It looks spectacular, although that’s not a surprise given the work Firemint did on the two previous versions before being acquired by EA. The game will use Game Center for “time-shifted multiplayer” – in other words, ghost-racing. Oh, but no: Because cars aren’t just ghosts – players can bump one another and affect their times. Now that is interesting.
6.29: Schiller breezes through the new device’s battery life – no time to compare it to the last model. Straight onto the iPhone 5′s iSight camera. It’s an 8-megapixel model with a five-element lens and a fast 2.4 aperture, but the camera is 25% smaller. Enhanced with a dynamic low light mode – this stuff will be important when people compare the phone with new rivals like Nokia’s Lumia 920 – and “precision lens alignment”. Oh, and a sapphire crystal lens cover to protect the lens, and improved camera software. Better snaps, in short.
6.34: A lengthy camera demo. The front-facing camera has also been upgraded to support HD video recording – although megapixels aren’t mentioned. One thing I caught was the ability to take still photos while shooting video, which I seem to remember one of the Android rivals rolling out earlier this year.
6.36: “Wideband audio” is a new technology to improve call quality. Voice calls! 20 operators will support this at launch apparently.
6.37: That new dock connector. So long iPod’s 30-pin connector, and hello to a new model called Lightning that’s 80% smaller. “So many of the things we used to do over the wire we now do wirelessly,” says Schiller, who notes that accessory-makers are working with Apple to integrate the new connector into their products. What about existing devices that require a 30-pin connector? “We’re creating a bunch of accessories to help you with that,” says Schiller. Like a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter. Place your bets now on how much that’ll cost.
6.39: Onto software, and iOS 6, which was unveiled earlier this year. Apple’s Scott Forstall tags onto the stage to show the new software running on the iPhone 5, complete with Apple’s new non-Google mapping software and turn-by-turn navigation, voiced by Siri (well, the woman who does Siri in the US, anyway). And also 3D maps, rotating around Big Ben in London just to show they’re not just for the US.
6.44: Forstall shows off tweeting, Safari enhancements – including full-screen mode filling the five-inch screen – and the iCloud Tabs feature to open web pages that are open on a user’s various Apple devices. He also shows off the new Passbook app for e-tickets, loyalty cards, boarding passes and similar. Starbucks, Ticketmaster, Delta Airlines, American Airlines and MLB (Major League Baseball) all appear to be using it.
6.48: Siri demo – this has all been shown at WWDC – finding sports info, movie reviews, booking tables in restaurants and so on. It’s impressive, though, including its ability to tie in with Facebook, OpenTable and other apps/services.
6.51: Back to Schiller, who explains that the iPhone 5 will come in a choice of black or white. No Nokia-style banana-yellow for now. FOR SHAME.
6.54: As several people are noting on Twitter, it looks like NFC won’t be a part of the iPhone 5. At a time when Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone are all making it a standard feature, that’s interesting.
6.57: Quite a lot of ‘is that it?’ on Twitter too, from fellow geeks. One important point: when thinking of people upgrading from a previous iPhone, it’ll be the iPhone 4 rather than the iPhone 4S that the big sales will come from – those pesky 18-24 month contracts. For people upgrading from a feature phone, a BlackBerry, or a cheap Android they bought in haste a year or two ago, of course, the comparison is to the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Lumia 920.
6.59: Oh, and of course, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 will be dropping in price once the iPhone 5 comes out, too.
7.00: iPhone 5 price? $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for 32GB and £399 for 64GB models on a typical two-year operator contract. And yes, the iPhone 4 and 4S are dropping in price, with no mention of the 3GS, which is presumably being gracefully retired. The iPhone 5 will start pre-orders this Friday, 14 September, and it will ship on 21 September in nine countries including the UK. 20 more countries to follow on the 28 September, and 100 in total by the end of 2012.
7.01: iOS 6 will launch on 19 September as a free upgrade, as usual, for iOS devices. Including the 3GS.
7.02: Back to Tim Cook, who talks about “something near and dear to our hearts – and that is music… music is deeply embedded in our DNA”. Changes to iPod and iTunes.
7.03: Eddy Cue takes the stage. Quick stats: 26m songs in the catalogue and 26bn song downloads since the launch of the iTunes Store, which is now available in 63 countries. And Apple has 435m iTunes accounts – people with registered credit cards on the system. “More than two thirds of our downloads now come directly for iOS devices,” he says, announcing that Apple has spent the last year redesigning the iTunes Store for those iOS devices.
7.04: The redesigned store is cleaner and swipier – more elegant and with a design integrated across iTunes, App Store, iBookstore. And Facebook Likes are tied in across the board. Meanwhile, iTunes song previews will keep playing even when users browse to different pages, and there are “improved search results” – which he doesn’t elaborate on.
7.06: Over to iTunes on Mac and PC. There are now more than 200m people using iTunes in the Cloud, who have downloaded 15bn songs, TV shows, films and books using Apple’s cloud service. New iTunes is “dramatically simpler, and we have built iCloud right in,” says Cue.
7.08: It does look cleaner and less cluttered. No sign of Ping yet. A new feature called ‘Up Next’ shows what songs are coming up next in a currently-playing playlist. It looks a bit like Rdio, if we’re honest.
7.11: But now more on those search improvements. Type in a word – ‘say’ for example – and iTunes will start bringing up relevant matches from your collection. There’s also a new mini-player for on-screen use when the main iTunes window is minimised. iCloud functionality also looks good: e.g. the ability to resume watching a film on your PC at the point you stopped on your iPad.
7.13: Now the iTunes Store, showing off Bruce Springsteen’s artist page, complete with a tab showing his upcoming concerts. No news (yet) on who’s providing that data. Songkick, possibly?
7.14: The new iTunes won’t be available until late October though.
7.15: But now onto iPods. Apple has sold more than 350m iPods so far, says Greg Joswiak, who’s just taken over from Cue in the presentational relay. A new iPod nano first, the seventh-generation model. It’s teeny-tiny, 5.4mm thick, but with a 2.5-inch multi-touch screen and a Home button below it. Nike+ fitness app is preloaded, seemingly, as is something called ‘Radio’. No, not the rumoured Pandora-killer: there’s an FM tuner built into the new nano.
7.19: Bluetooth is built in to stream music wirelessly to headphones, speakers and in-car systems. It’ll also have the new Lightning connector and a claimed battery life of 30 hours of music playing.
7.20: More relevantly for app developers, the iPod touch – “the world’s most popular music player, but what a lot of people don’t realise is it’s actually the world’s most popular games player”. Joswiak adds that 150m people are signed up to Apple’s Game Center community. But yes, the new iPod touch has the same four-inch Retina display as the iPhone 5, with the last model’s A5 processor – not the A6 in the new phone.
7.23: And another developer demo: Torsten Reil of NaturalMotion showing off Clumsy Ninja, a 3D animated character. A bit like Talking Tom Cat if he was, er, a ninja. “You have to help him become a better ninja by playing with him and doing exercises,” says Reil, explaining the game aspect. It’s very, very good – lots of laughs from the audience at his clumsiness. The game will be out by Christmas.
7.27: Back to Joswiak, who notes that a 5-megapixel iSight camera will be built into the new iPod touch, with shared Photostreams and that. Oh, and a circular button in the bottom corner of the back of the device, which pops out and can be used to attach a wrist-strap “for added security when taking pictures, or just walking around town”. WRIST-STRAP REBRAND KLAXON.
7.31: AirPlay Mirroring and Siri will also be supported for the first time in an iPod touch. And it’ll be different colours: black, white, blue, BANANA YELLOW BANANA YELLOW BANANA YELLOW, and red.
7.33: I’m tiring.
7.34: Oh, new headphone design. “Ear pods”. Or “EarPods”. Three years in the designing, apparently. “We three-dimensionally scanned hundreds of ears,” says Jony Ive, appearing as ever in a promo video rather than in the flesh. They’ll start shipping as a standalone accessory today, but will then be bundled with new devices – the iPhone 5, iPod touch and iPod nano.
7.37: Oh, the last iPod touch will still be sold for $199 / $249 for 16GB and 32GB models, but the new one will cost $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB. It’ll go on sale in October.
7.38: And now back to Tim Cook to wind up. “We do love music,” he says, introducing an ad. And then a recap of the new products. “What places Apple way out in front of the competition is how they work so well together,” he says. “Only Apple could create such amazing hardware, software and services and bring them together into such a powerful yet integrated solution. Apple has never been stronger…” Goodness.
7.41: And the traditional music artist to finish things off. Foo Fighters. And that’s a RAWK. Sorry, I mean a wrap.