What we liked in the Apple 2016 iPhone announcement

This morning after last night’s Apple keynote viewing party, Mark, Adam and I discussed what was announced and made a shortlist of the elements we thought were the most interesting.

 
 

For us, the new AirPod wireless headphones are the stand out new design. We were particularly impressed with the case that doubles as a charger and extra battery, while also helping to reduce the likelihood that you’ll lose such small items because you will naturally put them back in the case together to top up their charge. The tap on the headphone to invoke Siri and other phone functions also goes a long way to make it less weird to use Siri. Automatic stop and start of your audio as you take one out or put it back in your ear is both simple and fantastic.

We all share concerns about how it is going to look wearing them – which is strange considering they are almost exactly the same size as the existing EarPods but without a cable attached. Adam apparently has freaky ears that EarPods will not stay in, so he won’t be trying these it seems. The ability to put them near the device that you want them to work with is a stroke of genius if it works as well as they showed.

As the only one of us currently wearing an Apple Watch, I found there was a surprising amount of enthusiasm for the new generation Apple Watch “Series 2”. It seems the GPS and waterproofing for swimming and swim workouts has tipped the balance for Mark and Adam who are keen on this from a health and fitness perspective. The mechanism they added to push water out using the speaker is delightful.

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The new dual-camera on the iPhone 7 Plus looks like it will be a fantastic addition, but none of us really want to carry such a large phone so we’re all a bit disappointed we won't be getting this in the iPhone 7 size. It is surprising Apple announced the depth-of-field portrait photos as a key feature and yet it is not shipping that software on the phones yet… which gives me some concern for what this will eventually mean in terms of how good it is and when it will actually be available to use. There are bound to be visual artefacts at the edges of the portrait subject, and what happens if there are people or objects between the subject and “focus infinity”? We’ll have to wait to find out.

It was also very interesting that Apple are expanding their monthly payment plans for iPhones beyond the USA to other countries including the UK. These plans include AppleCare+ and a brand new phone every year, which makes them a good deal. We could see a lot of people move to SIM only contracts in the UK.

So what do we think we will actually buy, and why?

For my part, as an iOS developer I’m going to be getting a new iPhone 7 and an aluminium Series 2 Watch plus the new AirPods so that I can try out the wide colour-gamut and GPS stuff. Adam seems sold on the Apple Watch Series 2 for fitness although he is torn because he likes the Nike+ version yet cannot stand the sheared "go faster" fonts used on it. Mark is similarly looking to get the Series 2 watch for fitness & notifications along with some AirPods that he will try his best not to lose. It looks like a win for the accessories, but perhaps unsurprisingly not a "must have" upgrade for those with an iPhone 6S already.