As we could have probably predicted, Apple CEO Tim Cook started the company updates section by talking about the company's music streaming platform, Apple Music. After initially being launched on June 30, 2015, the platform now has 17 million paying subscribers, which makes it one of the fast growing streaming platforms in history.
The service also contains more than 30 million individual songs, with an ongoing commitment to the first to stream exclusive tracks and albums from some of the hottest artists in the world. Tying in with the Apple Music theme, Tim Cook also announced that the annual iTunes festival is now in its tenth year, with this year's event in London showcasing some of the hottest music in the world with performances by the likes of Elton John, Britney Spears and the band that Tim Cook outlined as his favourite, One Republic.
The App Store is an extremely important part of Apple's historical and future plans for devices like the iPhone, iPad and Series 1 and 2 Apple watches. As it stands at the moment, the App Store is to millions of applications, with device owners being responsible for more than 140 billion app downloads. The growing interest in the App Store and the applications that it contains is highlighted by yet another year of year-on-year growth, with Apple's iOS application store now generating more than twice the revenue of Google's Play Store.
Super Mario Run
You know it's going to be an Apple event for the history books when legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto makes an appearance on the stage to promote NIntendo's new automatic side-scroller. Yes, you guessed it, it's Nintendo and it's Miyamoto, which means that Super Mario is going to be a very large part of the App Store extremely soon. As part of a collaboration, the two companies took the opportunity to announce that Super Mario Run will be jumping onto the App Store. In essence, the game is an endless, automatic scroller that sees Mario whizz across the screen in a very familiar looking environment. There's multiplayer mode, and even the chance to build up a forceful Mushroom Army. Given the success of Pokemon Go, we can only imagine how successful Mario will be on the small screen of mobile.
Education and iWork
Here at hedgehog lab, we truly believe that the innovative use of mobile technology can change and revolutionise the educational sector to the benefit of everyone. Apple clearly agrees with that notion, as highlighted by its education announcements during the event. Apple is in the process of putting a number of education initiatives in place, but chose to focus on the connectED grant that is aiming to deliver 50,000 iPads to students across the United States, with a further 4,500 Macs going to teachers. There is also a renewed interest in collaborative working, as evidenced by the new changes coming to the company's iWork platform. Google Drive already offers this type of functionality, but those who use things like Pages, Notes or Keynote, will be pleased that Apple has jumped into 2016 by bringing the ability to edit documents in real-time amongst multiple contributors.
Apple Watch Series 2
And this is where things started getting interesting. At least for those who were tuned into Apple's live stream purely to see what was coming from a hardware perspective. Rather than jump straight into the new hardware, Apple focused a little on the strengths of the Apple Watch brand and where it currently stands in the market. To that end, the Apple Watch is currently the number 2 watch brand in the world, and is, of course, the top selling Smart Watch globally. And what better way to increase the popularity of that brand than by bringing on Niantic Labs to introduce a Pokemon Go app for Apple Watch?
Now, onto the Series 2 Apple Watch. The overarching design and visuals remain consistent with the original Apple Watch, introduced to the market 18 months ago. However, with the Series 2 we have an intelligent time piece with a built-in GPS radio, that's water resistant to 50 meters, and "swim proof", and then there's the integration of a lightning-fast, dual-core processor built on top of the company's own silicon architecture. If that wasn't enough of an improvement, then there's a new display that's twice as bright as Series 1, running at 1000 nits, or with the strength of 1000 candles, oh, and there's also a dedicated Apple watch Series 2 Nike Plus variant as part of a collaboration with Nike.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
And that brings us nicely to the hardware announcement that a large percentage of us were actually there to witness; the introduction of the 2016 iPhone, or the iPhone 7. So, let's just jump right in. Apple's iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus for that matter, largely features the same overarching physical design as the iPhone 6s; that is to say, it looks the same at first glance, but the design and internals are by no means identical to its predecessor. The first most notable difference is that the company has eradicated the space gray option in favour of introducing a new black and jet black exterior finish. From immediate glance, black is the new space gray, and jet black is the exterior of the iPhone 3G/3GS reimagined for modern times and put through a nine-step anodising process that creates a beautiful, uniform polish.
Physical appearance aside, the iPhone 7 is an absolute beast of a device. The new Home button is a responsive and extremely reliable integration with customisable functionality built on top of Apple's own Taptic Engine. The whole device now offers IP67 rating, meaning that it's protected against water and dust ingress. There is a new stereo speaker system in place that sees a speaker mounted on the top and bottom of phone, as well as a very familiar Retina HD display that is 25-percent brighter than the iPhone 6s, but still comes with an integrated 3D Touch layer.
One of the biggest changes with the new iPhone, and definitely one that most were looking forward to, is the new camera system built on top of Apple's extremely intelligent silicon that is capable of performing one billion processes with every single photo capture. The smaller iPhone 7 will come with a 12-megapixel, six element lens that's 60-percent faster than the previous model, and capable of taking stunning images in low-light conditions with the new four-LED flash.
The larger iPhone 7 Plus, which still rocks in at 5.5-inches in size, ships with the stunning new dual-lens camera system that offers a single telephoto lens as well as a wide-angle lens, both of which are 12-megapixel. Those new camera experiences are powered by Apple's own proprietary A10 Fusion silicon, comprising of a whopping 3.3 billion transistors, and offering GPU performance up to 50-percent faster than the A9.
One More Thing....
An Apple event wouldn't be an Apple event without that surprise little announcement that blindsides us all. With the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack on the new iPhone, the general public wondered what kind of personal audio experience would be provided in the iPhone box. That question was answered with the introduction of the Lightning-enabled EarPods; but there's more.....
Say hello to Apple's new wireless AirPods. Rather than simply being a set of wireless headphones, these gorgeous little pods are a powerhouse computing experience built with Apple's own W1 chip. Yes, the company invented its own silicon to power wireless headphones. Insane. As if the silicon wasn't enough, there's also dual accelerometers, beamforming microphones in each Pod to remove background noise, and up to five hours playback on a full charge.
Not a bad way to end an event packed full of new hardware introductions and revolutionary steps forward.