Before we've even finished writing down who's naughty and nice, the most wonderful time of the year is once again upon us. No, not Christmas—though that's only a short reindeer-ride away—but the September Apple Keynote.
Held in the circular glass marvel that is Steve Jobs Theatre in Apple Park, Cupertino, chief executive Tim Cook unveiled some hot new products (three new iPhone 11 models and a series 5 Apple Watch) but, after the Americanos were finished and MacBooks fully recharged from a morning of live reporting, the greatest takeaway was the company's continued push into services—Apple TV+ with some stellar programming and Apple Arcade for a buffet of online games.
Want all the need-to-know details without the jargon? Scroll down for our highlights (think of it as a top-line cheat sheet) of the best products and services announced by Apple. You're welcome.
Apple Watch Series 5
Apple Watch Series 5 (the sixth generation of the world's most popular timepiece) is now available in titanium—a natural brushed silver finish and a space black titanium achieved through a diamond-like coating—in addition to a white ceramic case (so chic); gold and space grey aluminium (lightest cases available followed by the new titanium case); as well as the classic stainless steel iteration (heaviest case available for those who like a substantial weight to their timepieces).
But if we're talking about pure aesthetics, then you can't go pass the new Hermès Apple Watch Series 5 models, which not only has a range of new leather straps (check out the cavelleria print versions), but also comes in a new noir stainless steel case to match a new noir leather band. You know that old adage, 'fashion fades but style remains the same'? It's talking about this black beauty right here.
Cases and straps aside, the key new features of the Apple Watch Series 5 are as follows:
(a) Always-on retina display
For those of you who already own an Apple Watch, you'll understand the significance of having a screen that is 'always-on'. Traditionally, the face of the Apple Watch turns off when the user's arm is down or after a period of inactivity; the wearer has to raise their arm or tap the screen to read the time. But if you're riding a bike, holding onto the overhead handrails in a crowded train carriage, or simply chatting to someone at a party, you can't be 'flicking your wrist' (so to speak) just to get a glimpse of the time.
The screen on the new Apple Watch Series 5 features a new display that dims slightly when the user's arm is down (to preserve battery life) while still showing all the important information on the screen. This is made possible through the combination of a low-temperature polysilicone and oxide display, ultra-low power display driver, efficient power management integrated circuit and a new ambient light sensor; all working together to deliver an 18-hour battery life.
(b) Built-in compass
We've already had a built-in compass on our iPhones, but now, it's also available on the Apple Watch. What does this mean? The Maps app on your Apple Watch Series 5 shows you which way you're facing, making it easier to locate that new restaurant you're heading to for dinner. And after dinner, impress your date by loading the Night Sky app to show her where the star constellations are located in… the night sky, of course. All powered by the new compass app that shows incline, latitude, longitude and current elevation. Winner. The compass app can also be added as a complication to your watch face for quick access.
(c) International emergency calls
Last year, Apple Watch Series 4 introduced fall detection—a smart design that sends a message to a user's listed emergency contacts if he or she has fallen down. This year, Apple Watch Series 5 builds on that initiative by allowing wearers of an Apple Watch Series 5 (with cellular) to make a call to local emergency services in over 150 countries worldwide by simply holding down the side button. Emergency calls can be made on the cellular Apple Watch Series 5 even without an iPhone nearby or an activated cellular plan.
Pricing and availability: Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) starts at S$599 and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) starts at S$749. They are both available for pre-order now in Singapore with availability beginning on Friday 20 September 2019.
iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
In summary, if you love taking pictures, then you're going to love the three new iPhones: iPhone 11 features a dual-camera system and is available in six new colourways (purple, green, yellow, black, white and PRODUCT(RED)); while iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max comes packed with a triple-camera system and is available in four colourways (space grey, silver, gold and a new midnight green—our personal fave; you know what they say, 'only geniuses choose green').
The new iPhones contain a plethora of updates—as always, Apple rolls them out faster, brighter and smarter each year—but here are our favourite features:
(a) New Ultra Wide and Wide cameras
The introduction of an Ultra Wide camera and Wide camera to both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models means that users can now take up to four times more scene. Not only is it great for landscape photography, you can also take visually compelling images of people, pets and objects as the Ultra Wide and Wide camera functions works with iPhone's Portrait mode too—delivering images with the subject in focus but with a surrounding bokeh effect.
Best part? Ultra Wide and Wide camera modes are just a tap away in the Camera app under the 'Photo' selection. You can also slide between the Ultra Wide and Wide camera mode in the photo wheel.
(b) Even better Night mode
No light? No worries. The introduction of a new Wide sensor with 100 percent Focus Pixels enables even better Night mode, delivering huge improvements to images captured in low-light environments. Check out the difference between Night mode on and off above. The image with Night mode on is tremendously brighter with natural colours and reduced noise.
(c) You can now take #slowfies
What is a #slowfie? It's a #selfie taken on the new iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro models using the updated 12MP TrueDepth® front camera (with a wider field of view) that enables 4K video recording at 120 fps in slo-mo. That's right, it's a portmanteau of 'slo-mo' and 'selfie'. A slo-mo selfie video. Boom. Breaks the Internet.
Comparison Guide: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
|Model||iPhone 11||iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max|
|Construction||Back design precision milled and sculpted from a single piece of glass.||Textured matte glass back and polished stainless steel band.|
|Water resistance rating||IP68 rating for water resistance up to 2 meters for up to 30 minutes.||IP68 for water resistance up to 4 meters for up to 30 minutes.|
|Display||6.1-inch all-screen Liquid Retina® display with wide colour support and True Tone for a more natural viewing experience.||iPhone 11 Pro (5.8 inches) iPhone 11 Pro Max (6.5 inches) feature a new Super Retina XDR display (including wide colour support and True Tone) and a custom-designed OLED to provide an immersive HDR viewing experience with up to 1,200 nits brightness and 2 million-to-one contrast ratio with true blacks.|
|Chip||A13 Bionic with up to 20 percent faster CPU and GPU than A12; allows the CPU to deliver more than 1 trillion operations per second.||A13 Bionic with up to 20 percent faster CPU and GPU than A12; allows the CPU to deliver more than 1 trillion operations per second.|
|Back camera system||Dual-camera system with all-new 12MP Ultra Wide (f/2.4) and 12MP Wide (f/1.8) cameras that supports 4K video with extended dynamic range.||Triple-camera system with all-new 12MP Ultra Wide (f/2.4), 12MP Wide (f/1.8) and 12MP Telephoto (f/1.8) cameras that supports 4K video with extended dynamic range.|
|Front camera system||TrueDepth® system with a new 12MP (f/2.2) camera with a wider field that supports 4K video at up to 60 fps and 120 fps in slo-mo.||TrueDepth® system with a new 12MP (f/2.2) camera with a wider field that supports 4K video at up to 60 fps and 120 fps in slo-mo.|
|Additional notes||New Apple-designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness, enabling AirDrop with spatial awareness with new iOS 13.1 coming on 30 September 2019; Face ID up to 30 percent faster and improved performance at varying distances; Gigabit-class LTE and Wi-Fi 6 allows for even faster download speeds; and Dual SIM with eSIM.||New Apple-designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness, enabling AirDrop with spatial awareness with new iOS 13.1 coming on 30 September 2019; Face ID up to 30 percent faster and improved performance at varying distances; Gigabit-class LTE and Wi-Fi 6 allows for even faster download speeds; and Dual SIM with eSIM.|
|Battery life||Up to one hour more than iPhone XR.Translates to 17 hours of video, 10 hours of streaming video, and 65 hours of audio playback.||iPhone 11 Pro offers up to four more hours than iPhone XS. This means up to 18 hours of video playback, 11 hours of streaming video, and 65 hours of audio playback. In comparison, iPhone 11 Pro Max offering up to five hours more than iPhone XS Max. This means up to 20 hours of video playback and 80 hours of audio playback.|
|Pricing and availability (Singapore)||Available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models in six colours (purple, green, yellow, black, white and PRODUCT(RED)) starting at S$1,149. Pre-order begins on Friday 13 September with product available in stores from Friday 20 September.||iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will be available in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB models in four colours (midnight green, space grey, silver and gold) starting at S$1,649 and S$1,799 respectively. Pre-order begins on Friday 13 September with product available in stores from Friday 20 September.|
Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade
The world's most valuable company that has built an empire on selling hardware is now, well and truly, banking on subscription services as its future growth drivers.
Apple TV+ launches 1 November in over 100 countries and regions with a lineup of original shows, movies and documentaries. If Apple can secure a global must-see series hit (think: Game of Thrones for HBO, Handmaid's Tale for Hulu or Stranger Things for Netflix) then Apple TV+ could be a game changer; especially with a monthly subscription fee (USD4.99) that's cheaper than its competitors. With over 200 million iPhones shipped in 2018, Apple technically has the potential to pull in more than USD1 billion in subscription fees per month.
Potential hits (and thus cash cows) for Apple TV+ include:
- The Morning Show—a drama starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston (and starring Steve Carell) that explores the cutthroat world of morning news;
- See—starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, this epic drama is set 600 years in the future after a virus has decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind; and
- For All Mankind—a new series from Ronald D. Moore that imagines what would have happened if the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centrepiece of America’s hopes and dreams.
And, introducing Apple Arcade, where monthly subscribers get unlimited access to the entire catalogue of over 100 new and exclusive games playable across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV. Apple Arcade games can all be played offline, and a single subscription includes access for up to six family members with Family Sharing.
Games to keep an eye out for include:
- 'Ballistic Baseball' from Gameloft—an action-packed arcade baseball game that captures the battle between pitcher and batter in live head-to-head multiplayer matches;
- 'ChuChu Rocket! Universe' from Sega—a universe of strange and wonderful planets with over 100 mind-bending puzzles; and
- 'PAC-MAN PARTY ROYALE' from Bandai Namco—brand-new arcade experience featuring a four-player Battle Mode where the last PAC-MAN standing wins.
Pricing and availability: S$6.98 per month for each of Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade.
Apple TV+ will be available on the Apple TV app with a seven-day free trial starting 1 November 1 on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD, Apple TV (3rd generation), iPod touch and Mac. To subscribe to Apple TV+, customers must update to iOS 12.3 or later, tvOS 12.3 or later and macOS Catalina.
Customers who purchase any new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch starting 10 September can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free.
Apple Arcade will be available via a new tab on the App Store and is launching with a one-month free trial on 19 September with iOS 13, 30 September 30 on iPadOS and tvOS 13, and in October on macOS Catalina.