Apple iPhone 8 and X: 10 things you need to know

Apple unveiled the latest iterations of iPhone at their futuristic Apple Park campus in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday morning. At the first event in the Steve Jobs Theater, the tech giant is hoping not one—but three—new devices will have consumers digging for their wallets to get their hands on a new smartphone.

Celebrating the 10th-anniversary of iPhone, here are 10 things you need to know about the newly announced devices:

1. Three new iPhones to choose from

Unveiled were iPhone 8 and 8 Plus—an upgrade from their iPhone 7 sibling on the market today. It features an all-new glass and aluminum design, single- and dual-lens cameras on the devices, respectively, and an A11 Bionic chip that runs 30 per cent faster than the previous A10 chip. Also announced was iPhone X—pronounced ‘ten’— featuring an all-glass design and an OLED Super Retina display.

2. There’s still no headphone jack, and they ditched the home button, too

Yes, the headphone jack is gone—likely for good—and while iPhone 8 preserves the button that seemingly does almost everything, iPhone X ditches the home button, too. It is replaced by swipe gestures to unlock, multitask, and a new side button allows you to activate the Siri voice assistant and Apple Pay.

3. Your face will unlock your phone

Through a new feature on iPhone X, FaceID will replace the biometric TouchID fingerprint reader. It uses a unique camera system to map a user’s face on the fly, and depth-sensing technology allows you to unlock your device, use Apple Pay, and gain access to secure apps.

4. The screen that changes everything

If you’re looking for an immersive experience, iPhone X is worth waiting for. The device features an all-new, edge-to-edge, 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display. This means you’ll get truer blacks, vivid colours, and a wider gamut through high-definition resolution. The OLED display is a first-of-its-kind in an iPhone, and features a 2436×1125 resolution.

5. Say goodbye to cord city

Apple is doubling down in wireless charging technology, through the all-glass backs on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Through third-party accessories that support the Qi charging standard and their own AirPower mat accessory, users will now be able to charge their iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3, and AirPods without plugging in individual cables—a challenge many users have been hoping for a solution to for a long time.

6. Augmented reality is in

Coupled with the new A11 Bionic chip and new cameras on iPhone 8 Plus, the company believes augmented reality technology is in. Cameras are designed to work with built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers to track motion, and with graphics supported at 60 frames per second, developers will be able to tailor apps to enable users to star gaze, read live player stats at baseball games, and more, right from an app on your phone.

7. All-new cameras

All three devices feature improved cameras—12 megapixel rear cameras to be exact. iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X feature a dual rear camera, and that brings new functionality like the Portrait Lighting mode that can digitally modify lighting to users’ specific preferences—all in real time.

8. Animojis to make you laugh

One of my faves—emojis have become part of our everyday vernacular, and Apple is bringing them alive by way of an ‘Animoji.’ An animated emoji that will use the front-facing camera to measure your face, animate your favourite emojis into life-like characters, and record a short clip for text messaging. This will no doubt be addictive to not just your everyday millennial, but grandparents alike.

9. Yes, it’s pricey

It’s a steep price point, but no doubt many will be lining up overnight to be the first to get their hands on a device. In Canada, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be available in 64GB and 256GB capacities starting at $929, and iPhone X will retail for over $1,300. Wireless carriers will have individual pricing on contract.

10. Is it worth the upgrade?

If you’ve been waiting out for a new iPhone—this is a good time to upgrade. iPhone 7 users will see improvements through the free iOS upgrade.  Whether it’s iPhone 8 or iPhone X, you’re sure to see many improvements on both software and hardware fronts. iPhone X—a special-edition device in itself, celebrating 10 years of iPhone—will be a high-demand smartphone, but you’ll have to wait out until Nov. 3 to get your hands on one. You can pre-order iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on Sep. 15, in stores on Sep. 22.


Apple updates iMac, MacBook lines; doubles down on performance

Apple refreshed its line of Mac computers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, including the iMac desktop – a device the tech giant hasn’t updated in almost two years. Manufacturers typically renew computers at least yearly to stay relevant.

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iMac reimagined on the inside, not out

Not much has changed on the exterior, but the first thing you do notice when powering on is the vibrancy of the display – boasting a beautiful 4K display and 5K display in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs, respectively. These displays are 43 per cent brighter than its predecessor at 500 nits with support for one billion colours. Essentially, you’re guaranteeing yourself a vivid picture with whatever you’re doing.

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

From a performance perspective, Apple has heavily invested in the Intel Kaby Lake seventh-generation Core i5 processor as standard, with an option to upgrade to Core i7. Measured against the previous-generation model, the new iMac will allow for three-times-faster gaming on the 21.5-inch model.

iMac pushes the envelope in storage with the evolution of the Fusion Drive across the 27-inch line and on the high-end 21.5-inch 4K computer, adding higher-capacity memory. Fusion Drives allow users to access frequently used documents, photos, videos, on a flash drive, eliminating spinning disks of the traditional hard drive. It means fewer parts to break down. I’d like to see a move to this being standard on all desktops.

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Users will find plenty of connectivity on the 27-inch iMac, and unlike iPhone 7, there’s still a headphone jack, alongside four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (a.k.a. USB-C for everyone else), a Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card port. This allows for added displays, high-speed hard drive connectivity, and other third-party accessories.

Among the updates from the conference include a peek at the next iteration of the Mac platform – macOS High Sierra – chock-a-block full of new toys for developers to create immersive experiences for users, like virtual reality. However, the upgrade won’t be available until the fall.

MacBook Pro: Building on its success

The previous generation of MacBook Pro made the laptop much thinner and lighter. Plus, the integration of a fluid and interactive Touch Bar and Touch ID fingerprint reader has been surprisingly useful — not just a gimmick — and the 2017 version builds on that.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The upgrades bring a routine processor and hard drive boost. Machines will see the same Intel Kaby Lake processor as its desktop counterparts, as well as faster solid-state drives, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro will have snappier graphics out of the gate.

The notebook could benefit from an added USB 3.0 port for so many existing devices while still offering flexibility in the increasingly popular USB-C port. I also miss the SD card reader. Can there be a balance struck with ports, or lack thereof?

 

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

As for the OLED-lit Touch Bar that offers virtual buttons that react to the specific program you’re in, the technology continues to be unique in its class. I’d like to see exponential growth of adoption by third-party developers for it to be a real hit. But for the apps that currently utilize this, it’s fantastic.

 

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

 

With the last MacBook Pro, I had some issues with the shallow-but-tactile butterfly keyboard sticking. Apple has made some improvements to address reported problems with switch keys.

Other standard updates include increased speed and longer battery life. A larger Force Touch trackpad that reacts to the amount of pressure given to surface different actions remains.

MacBook receives a minor—but needed—spec bump

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The entry-level MacBook remains one of Apple most popular laptops. It’s small in form and packs a punch as an ultraportable device, though it’s not as powerful as its sibling MacBook Pro. It gets the job done if you’re a parent just looking to surf the web and answer emails.

The entry-level laptop will get a boost in processor gigahertz, albeit minor at 1.2GHz dual-core, but when you’re working with less than 1.5 GHz to start with, every bit counts — even when you simply have a handful of web browser windows open.

In addition, the new solid-state drives are 50 per cent faster than its predecessor — rounding out a machine many students will no doubt adopt come September.

Availability

The new MacBook and MacBook Pro machines are available now.

A pro version of the iMac—aptly named iMac Pro—was announced Monday, but will not be available for sale until December. The updated classic line is available today.


New 10.5-inch iPad Pro brings a lot of familiar with a bigger display, more power

As computers become thinner and lighter, and tablets grow larger and more powerful, the line of whether you need one or the other is continuing to blur. Apple’s new productivity-focused tablet, iPad Pro is no exception.

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If I had to choose between my MacBook Pro or iPad Pro, nine times out of 10, I’m still going to choose the laptop. I find I’m generally more comfortable and don’t get anxious about the limitations of using a tablet. The tech giant continues to market these devices to two very different crowds—but is it working?

Let’s get to the basics

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iPad Pro now comes in 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, the former replacing the previous 9.7-inch tablet. The 10.5-inch version rings in at 6.1 millimetres in thickness, while still giving you nearly 20 per cent larger screen surface.

Apple’s claiming iPad Pro to have the most advanced display, featuring their ProMotion technology—essentially a doubled refresh rate at 120Hz to give you enhanced responsiveness. And I would consider it a success. The screen looks more vivid, snappier, and interacts well with the Apple Pencil—an accessory sold at an additional $129 CAD.

You can tell this device is built for productivity. I launched almost every one of my over 50 apps, and iPad Pro barely slowed down. Apple has integrated their new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip that handles the most demanding of heavy apps, giving this up to 30 per cent faster CPU and 40 per cent graphics than the previous A9X chip. I successfully streamed multiple 4K videos with no lag whatsoever.

Software brings new features, but you’ll have to wait

iOS 11, the next iteration of the mobile operating system coming to iPad Pro, will bring a lot of familiar from its Mac counterpart. But you won’t get it until later this fall. Some of these features include an application dock that is reminiscent of macOS, but drastically increases multitasking, as well as improved file management and inter-app content flows like drag-and-drop photos.

It’s just too bad the hardware and software changes weren’t timed together, however very clear that Apple is saving the release to work with the launch of their flagship phone—iPhone—typically in the fall, too.

For those who like to hold their iPads up in big crowds and take photos

Yes, you know who you are—you’ll find a 12-megapixel camera capable of shooting 4K HD video, a front-facing 7-megapixel camera for video calls, as well as a four-speaker audio setup.

This device is great for content consumption. There is no doubt about that. I’d much rather have my iPad Pro out at the airport or on a flight than my MacBook. Be it magazines or movies, everything from visual to audio will be pristine.

Gorgeous accessories, but it’ll cost you

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This is where I think Apple’s signature design aesthetic wins. Yes, you can buy third-party accessories, but nothing compares to the Smart Keyboard. The larger size now enables a full-sized keyboard, both software and hardware, and the Smart Connector allows for connectivity without charging or Bluetooth.
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Coupled with the interactive Apple Pencil for annotations and note taking, the keyboard and pencil combo will set you back just under $350 CAD, before you even buy the device!

Other accessories include a leather sleeve, Apple Pencil case, and a Smart Cover that doubles as a stand.

The verdict

When I go back to the MacBook Pro vs. iPad Pro debate, if I had to pick one product, I’d still go back to the MacBook Pro. That is, if I’m strictly thinking productivity. You get the benefits of a full macOS with the thin and portable design of iPad with the keyboard and travelling case. Plus, the 12-inch iPad Pro is still really weighty. If you’re making your tablet look and perform like a laptop—just go get one.

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iPad Pro is beautiful, but for it to be a true workhorse, you need the accessories. Add it to the starting-at pricing of $869 and $1,049 for the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, respectively, you’re pricing out to be near a MacBook or MacBook Pro, not to mention competitors out there like Microsoft’s Surface.

For big content consumers who value the Apple ecosystem and the extensive App Store, alongside the improved, vibrant display, and expanded keyboard size, iPad Pro could bring over more folks who want to shed the full computer experience for a simplified and user-friendly mobile design—made even better with iOS 11.