Apple detailed the Apple Watch Series 5. The watch’s most noteworthy new feature is its so-called always-on display. In previous models, the screen would turn on when you tilted your wrist to check the time.
The new watch uses a display technology (previously seen in Samsung phones) to keep some pixels activated just to show the time, consuming little power. The screen becomes fully lit up when you tilt your wrist. Other updates to the watch, including a built-in compass, were minor. The watch starts at $400, the same price as the last model. It will be available on Sept. 20.
Apple introduces a new iPad.
Apple introduced a new version of its entry-level iPad, which costs $330. The new model includes a 10.2-inch screen, up from 9.7 inches. Unlike the previous model, the new tablet is compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil. (Previous iPads worked with only third-party styluses and keyboards.)
The updated iPad is unremarkable compared to Apple’s high-end iPad Pros, which include sharper screens and infrared face recognition and work with a more advanced Apple stylus. However, the entry-level iPad is Apple’s best-selling tablet, and its investment in the entry-level model shows the company’s commitment to the category even though its sales have slowed down.
Finally, streaming details.
At last, Apple’s original television shows have a premiere date and price point. Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, announced on Tuesday that Apple would begin rolling out original shows and movies on Nov. 1 for $5 per month.
Apple TV Plus, which will be the home of all of Apple’s original content, will be free for a year to users who purchase a company product like a new iPhone or a laptop.
Apple announced that on Nov. 1, it would feature a lineup of adult dramas, comedies, children’s programs and documentaries. Those series include four shows the company has released trailers for, including “The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell; “Dickinson,” a comedy starring Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski; “See,” an epic drama starring Jason Momoa; and “For All Mankind,” a space drama. The launch will also feature other programs, including Oprah Winfrey’s new book club, a Peanuts series called “Snoopy in Space” and a documentary that Apple bought the rights to last year called “The Elephant Queen.”
The launch date puts Apple in the thick of the so-called streaming wars that have consumed Hollywood. Disney is rolling out its new streaming service, Disney Plus, on Nov. 12. AT&T’s Warner Media, the home of HBO, Warner Bros. and the DC comic universe, will introduce its own streaming service next year, and will announce new details for it on Oct. 29.
The price point makes it cheaper than Disney’s service, which will be $7 a month, and less than Netflix, which is $13 per month.
But questions linger: How will Apple market these programs in the coming months? Which shows will be introduced from the get-go? And will Apple drop all episodes of new series at once like Netflix, or will they roll out once a week?
— John Koblin
A new gaming service, Apple Arcade, priced at $5 a month.
Apple announced it was getting into gaming earlier this year. Now we know how much its game subscription will cost: $5 a month.
Apple said its Apple Arcade gaming service would be available starting Sept. 19 in more than 150 countries. The service charges users a monthly fee for access to more than 100 games that aren’t available elsewhere. The games can be played on iPhones, iPads, Macs and on Apple TV.
Apple showed off several of the games on Tuesday, including an undersea-exploration game from Japanese game maker Capcom and an updated version of the arcade classic Frogger.
Apple Arcade is part of a larger strategy by Apple to create a steady, more predictable revenue stream from services as sales of iPhones continue to slide. Apple has also added subscription services for news, music and streaming video.
Apple spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the development of new games for Apple Arcade, The Financial Times reported in April. Analysts expect gaming could become a major moneymaker for Apple within the next several years. HSBC analysts forecast its revenues to reach $2.7 billion by 2022, outpacing Apple’s news and video subscription services.
Apple to show off another round of iPhones
Apple is set to unveil its latest iPhones on Tuesday at an annual event aimed at drumming up interest and sales of its flagship moneymaker. In past years, Apple’s new iPhones have been a bit faster, bigger and pricier than their predecessors. Customers and investors will be watching on Tuesday to see whether Apple has something else up its sleeve, but expectations for something groundbreaking are low.
Apple is expected to debut three iPhones that look much like last year’s models, except for an extra camera lens on the back, which will produce better photos, according to recent news reports. The phones are also likely to have faster processors and more battery life.
How much they will cost is less clear. For the past two years, Apple has priced some new iPhones at $1,000 or more. That has helped depress sales and has forced Apple to cut prices in China, according to analysts.
Apple is expected to provide more details on several of its new services. Apple announced a subscription video-streaming service, Apple TV Plus, in March, with an expected start by year’s end. The company might say more about what exactly the service will include and how much it will cost.
Apple has also said it plans to introduce a subscription gaming service, Apple Arcade, but details have been sparse. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans for Tuesday.
In consumer tech, boring can be good
Historically, most iPhones have had an “S” cycle. Apple uses the letter in its iPhone branding to signify that a new model is an incremental improvement from the last one.
For example, in 2009, the iPhone 3GS was a faster version of the iPhone 3G from 2008. In 2011, the iPhone 4S was a minor update from 2010’s iPhone 4. This year’s iPhones will be incremental updates of last year’s models, focusing on enhancements in camera technology.
On paper, incremental updates sound like a snoozer. Yet they are generally the safest bet for average consumers who just want tech that works well. That’s because the S generations typically address flaws seen in older generations while introducing improvements in areas like speed and durability. In other words, if you’ve held off on upgrading your iPhone until now, you will probably be rewarded with a mature piece of tech.
On the flip side, if you are an early adopter of cutting-edge technology, S updates are usually a cue to wait another year or two before upgrading. Analysts say Apple is expected to make more significant changes to its handsets in the coming years, introducing compatibility with so-called 5G cellular networks and eventually making iPhones with foldable screens.