On September 12 apple held their annual iPhone focused event. This event is hotly anticipated every year and people from around the world watch it on apple’s live stream. Apple tends to operate on a “tic-toc” cycle where they have one year with major hardware releases followed by a year with minor hardware iterations and some new software features. After last year’s Tic iPhone X cycle, this year is very much a “toc”.
The main takeaway as far as iPhones are concerned is that the iPhone X design and technology is now being spread to the entire iPhone line. Apple has released iPhone X style phones in 3 different sizes. This should make Face ID accessible to all new iPhone users and help cement facial biometrics as the go-to modality for consumers in terms of security and speed. There have also been minor improvements to Apple’s augmented reality technology which now allows multiple users to track the same object in a space, as well as some improvements to the camera which now allows users to apply more effects and alter the depth of an image after it’s been taken.
The main software addition this year is Siri shortcuts which is a great feature for optimising your life. This gives you the ability to string together long workflows very easily and link them to whatever activation phrase you want. For example now when I say “hey siri, I’m going home”, my phone automatically detects my location, figures out what the street name is, then sends a message to my wife telling her where I am and how long it will take me to get home by public transportation, then starts my podcast app to the newest queued podcast and also sets the temperature in my home office to 21 degrees. Setting up this workflow took me 2 minutes. This really is an amazing productivity feature. Siri shortcuts also work from your computers and homepod as long as your iPhone is on the same wifi network.
The highlight of the event for me was the new Apple Watch. The new watch is slightly bigger and uses much more of the screen than the old watch does, it is now nearly bezel-less. Plenty of new complications and watch faces are also included. However, the real stand out feature is the electrical heart sensor that now joins the optical one on the back of the watch. This allows much more accurate readings and opens the potential to much more advanced functionality. The watch now will warn you of increased heart rate when you are not moving as well as Atrial Fibrillation which can indicate a serious heart problem. It can also detect a hard fall and contact emergency services if you are unresponsive after. The best feature, in my opinion, is one that will not be available in the UK as it has only been approved by the FDA so far, which is a true ECG. By touching the crown you can get a 30 second ECG reading which can be very valuable health information. This is an excellent first step to making real medical devices much more accessible and giving people control over their medical information.