AMITIAE - Wednesday 11 September 2013
Cassandra: Apple Event - New Products, New Directions, Mild Disappointment
By Graham K. Rogers
There had been rumours about the two main products for months as well as some of the final specifications. I am never convinced about such rumours as Apple tends to guard its secrecy. This wall now seems to be somewhat porous, despite Tim Cook's demand that leaks should be stopped.
Apart from the secrecy aspect, this is certainly now Cook's Apple. Those who bring up the mantra, "Steve would never have. . ." ignore the point that Jobs himself knew that Cook would change the company in certain ways, but would retain the core of Apple. The products evolve, adding new technology when the time is right, while the newer iPhone 5C adds market flexibility with cosmetic additions that will appeal to more buyers. I cannot see much wrong with that. Look at other major IT companies if you need examples of stagnation.
There are a couple of things I look for immediately with a new iPhone. The first is not the exterior. I liked the 4 and the 4S; I liked the 5, so the 5S is just fine for looks. Black will suit me just fine. It is what the iPhone does that I want to examine.
iPhone 5SThe first main report I linked to for this examines the iPhone 5S. AppleInsider writes on the major specifications: Touch ID fingerprint security, 64-bit A7 CPU, and mention that there is to be a gold option, to go with the black and white finish. Initial screen shots suggest that the gold is not as gaudy as I had feared: a little more subtle. It is easy to see why some used the colour, "champagne" to describe this.
The iPhone 5S is to go on sale Friday week (20 Sep) in the usual favoured nations: U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the U.K. The prices are to be the same as the iPhone 5.
The fingerprint scanner is an unusual inclusion although there had been rumours for months. We are told that "The sensor is 170 microns thin, senses 500 pixels per inch, and scans a user's sub-epidermal skin layers." It seems to me that "70 microns thin" is Schiller-speak. A couple of articles had the identical term.
Speed is catered for with the A7 processor which "includes over 1 billion transistors," double the A6. The speed is doubled as has graphics performance. There is also a new M7 motion co-processor which constantly measures motion data, for a new generation of health and fitness applications. This is an area that Apple is thought to be moving towards and may be complemented with wearable devices at a later stage.
I was slightly surprised to see that the iPhone retains the 8MP camera, although there are a number of improvements, including aperture, that should improve output. The rumours all had this at 12MP. The lenses is also improved, as it was in the iPhone 5. The camera is helped by the faster 64-bit, A7 processor, which was correctly predicted and a number of features are added including slow-motion video capture. I already have apps that produce such output. Are these now redundant?
iPhone 5CThe rumours of a less expensive iPhone had been around for months, and when some suggested it was to be the iPhone 5C, I suspected this was a model destined for the Chinese market. It is not "C" for "Cheap": Apple does not do cheap. It seems that "C" stands for colour. The report by Cody Fink on MacStories has a photograph of the 5 colours available: green, blue, yellow, pink and black. This brightness may well suit some customers more.
The device is aimed at "young adults and emerging markets" and has more or less the same specifications as the iPhone 5, but with a "contoured hard polycarbonate shell and a traditional black glass faceplate". A steel frame inside ensures rigidity.
SoftwareWith the iPhones, there will also be a new version of iOS (iOS7). The first report I read by Andrew Cunningham on Ars Technica tells us that this is ready and will be released next week as was expected. There is a good run down and commentary on iOS7 which is "broadly similar to the preview that Apple gave us back at WWDC." The article outlines not just the cosmetic appearance, but some of the core changes that are always included with such major updates. This update will not be available for the iPhone 3G or the iPod touch, Generation 4.
Writing on Macworld, Serenity Caldwell gives the release date as 18 September (Wednesday): which is the usual 2 days before the iPhones are given to the first customers.
Nattering Nabobs of NegativityThere are always negative reports following anything that Apple does. This event was no exception:
We may also be looking forward to more product announcements, particularly for Macs, in the near future.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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