Apple, as it promised, has just managed to "brighten everyone's day" with a big news conference that revealed the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C to the world. It was a powerful, detail-packed event that focused heavily on the iPhone.
Tim Cook kicked off the event by summarizing how popular iOS devices have become:
- Next month the 700 millionth iOS device will be sold. That's one sold for every ten people alive on the planet. Not all of them have remained active, of course, since the iPhone was first launched in 2007.
- iTunes Festival is so popular that 20 million people have applied for free tickets to the music events in London. Apple says it is streaming the shows to over 100 countries.
Apple showed off its next-gen iOS 7 operating system, which powers iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and, in a highly-limited version, Apple TVs.
- The design is bold, brightly-colored, and brings some extra powers to the iPhone, like quick access to settings. There are also new ringtones to go with the new look and feel.
- Siri is getting turbo-charged with new high-resolution voices and extra powers, like being able to search tweets for keywords.
- iTunes Radio is arriving alongside iOS 7--a streaming music service that may remind you of Pandora. It's free in an ad-supported version.
- iOS 7 will be available to the public September 18th, and will run on iPhones as old as the iPhone 4, iPads as old as the iPad 2, plus the iPad mini and iPod Touch (5th generation).
- iWork, Apple's productivity suite, is being revamped and will be available for free on iOS. Considering this is a mobile word processor, photo editor and organizer, video editor, spreadsheet and presentation-making package, this may be quite a blow to Microsoft and its plans for its own Surface tablet.
Apple also revealed its long-awaited "cheap" iPhone, which is an attempt to please the mid-price smartphone-buying public with a new, powerful edition that's distinguished from the flagship iPhone in design but comes at a lower price.
- The C in "5C" really does stand for color. The phone has a polycarbonate plastic back that comes in lime green, light blue, white, pink, and lemon yellow. Inside, it has got the same guts as the iPhone 5.
- The 5C has a metal reinforcing sheet inside the case that also acts as an antenna. The battery is said to be slightly better than the iPhone 5's, and though it has the same 8-megapixel rear camera, it's got a new HD front-facing FaceTime camera for video calls.
- Apple says it supports "more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world."
- iOS 7 can display wallpapers in the same color as the phone.
- A special $29 Apple silicone case is available in different colors; it has holes so you can still see the phone's hue. This is one very colorful phone.
- The 5C will cost $99 for 16GB, and $199 for 32GB on a two-year contract in the U.S. Pre-orders begin September 13th, with availability in Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, The United Kingdom, and the United States on September 20th.
Apple also, of course, revealed its flagship iPhone product for 2013-2014, the iPhone 5S. As rumored, it's a rehashed iPhone 5 with some new guts and some new powers--it may be the biggest "S" update Apple's ever made to the iPhone.
- The iPhone 5S is structurally very similar to the iPhone 5, with a metal chassis framing a 4-inch screen, which is larger than earlier iPhones. This time it's being sold in three colors, though: A white edition as before, a new "space grey" edition, and a gold-ish color that's not being called "champagne."
- Inside, it's a different story: It's powered by a new Apple A7 ARM chip, which the company says is the "first" and "only" 64-bit architecture smartphone CPU available.
- iOS 7 has been updated so that it seamlessly supports 64-bit processing. This should enable some very powerful processing to happen within the device--bringing desktop computing powers of only a few years ago to your pocket.
- The A7 CPU is 40x faster than the original iPhone, and brings graphics powers that are 56x faster.
- The A7 is partnered with a new all-Apple chip called the M7, which is a "motion co-processor." This dedicated chip sensitively monitors the phone's motion and position data on a continuous basis. It sends data to apps via a new motion API and can identify user's movements, enabling "optimizations based on contextual awareness."
- Apple says M7 will enable "a new generation of health and fitness apps." Nike has a new "Nike+ Move" app on the way that makes the most of it.
- The rear camera has the same number of pixels as the iPhone 5; it's an 8-megapixel unit. But instead of taking part in silly megapixel wars and confusing consumers, the sensor has bigger pixels for better image-making and has a new lens with a bigger F2.2 aperture for better performance in low-light.
- The rear camera has a "true tone" flash that uses two colored LEDs to light the scene more realistically.
- The camera is capable of a 10 frames-per-second "burst mode" just like a DSLR, and can also shoot 120 frames-per-second movies which you can play back as slow-motion clips.
- The iPhone 5S's signature feature is a fingerprint sensor that's built into the home button. It's called "Touch ID" and it's swift enough to unlock your phone with a quick touch--in any orientation--as well as letting you authenticate your ID in apps, such as when you want to make an iTunes purchase.
- The iPhone 5S is available in a 16GB version for $199, 32GB editions for $299 and $399 for a 64GB one.
- The iPhone 5S is launching on September 20th in Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, The United Kingdom, and the United States. It'll hit 100 nations and 270 carriers by the "end of the year."
- New iPads
- NFC or other payment capabilities in the iPhone
- New iPods
- New Macs of any kind
- OS X Mavericks launch date
[Photos by Alice Truong for Fast Company]