Apple took the fairly clever step of not livestreaming its iPhone event from its small HQ auditorium, leaving those tame press in the room to echo the company line to the world. Here's what went down at the Apple event.
Not Talking About A Revolution
The lack of a livestream aside, it was business as usual for Apple, waving its big numbers (700 millionth device will be sold in October), impressive events and products around, in what has been a less than stellar year for the Cupertino company, so far. We saw glimpses of Apple's iTunes music concerts and retail expansion before getting down to the business at hand.
UPDATE: Apple has now put a recorded stream of the event up on its site for the world to see.
First up was a look at iOS 7 with rapid fire demos of new features with some impressive edge-to-edge design among the new apps. Improvements to Siri, see the digital assistant with improved voices, better access to content, and she understand what's going on in other apps in use.
Improvements have also been made general interactivity. For example, and rather like iOS Google App, it will learn where you go and can provide realtime information faster. The new OS will be available on 18 September and will run on iPhone 4, iPad 2 and 5th gen iPods and above.
Big Apps Go Free
Before the drumbeat of the inevitable new devices, Tim Cook took a brief moment to salute Apple's apps and announced that iMovie, iWork and iPhoto will become free apps that anyone can download, getting them into the hands of more iOS users. Which led into the main event with the iPhone 5C up first.
While it might be the less-expensive product, Apple has still taken great care with the design, boasting of a seamless look with the rear and sides constructed as a single piece of polycarbonate, buttons and all, leading into the glass front panel. Under the glass is a 4-inch retina display, no skimping there, with an A6 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.
Prices are $99 for a 16GB model or 32GB for $199 with the usual two-year contract. That reduces the barrier to entry for Apple users considerably, assuming the contracts are less than for premium models. Apple will also sell a range of its own groovy cases to celebrate the color schemes and also protect that polycarbonate shell.
The Main Event
Then came the iPhone 5S with its golden or champagne color to the fore. Available in silver, gold and space gray, That'll be mostly to differentiate them from older models. Inside will beat Apple's A7 processor, a 64-bit CPU which will improve performance of apps without ramping up the heat or speed. Alongside that is an M7 processor that handles data from the iPhones sensors to measure motion and angles, without taxing the main CPU.
iOS 7 has been rebuilt for this architecture and Xcode now supports development of 32 and 64 bit apps at the same time. That basically doubles the speed and graphics performance of the previous model, without your phone melting. Apple showed off Nike+ which will use the M7 while saving battery power, and that gaming staple Infinity Blade, with a new third episode to demo the raw power with immense detail, more effects and smarter AI.
Converting the game from 32-bit to 64-bit took just a couple of hours, so most apps can probably be done during a lunch break. All that extra power and still the same battery life as the previous model. The camera has also seen improvements with a bigger aperture, larger sensor and a True Tone flash. Naturally, the software has been updated to make best use of all this.
There's a burst mode with automatic image stabilization, and the phone will choose what it thinks is the best shot from the 10-per-second that it can capture. It can also capture video at up to 120 frames-per-second, memory permitting for those comedy slow-mo sequences or cool wildlife or fast-moving car clips.
The final feature was the much trumpeted thumb sensor that we mentioned earlier. It lives in the Home button on the phone and can scan your fingers in immense detail, allowing you to access your phone securely, without worrying about what angle you're holding the phone or other possible issues. Just hope they've beta tested the heck out that one. Pricing follows the usual 16GB for $199; 32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399 pattern on contract, on sale 20 September.
Just One More Thing?
While almost all aspects of the presentation were leaked or widely predicted in advance, once again it was Apple's software and one-ness of purpose that shone through, even if all players are really running out of features to show into a phone. Things certainly feel less gimmicky than in some cases.
Apple closed the event with Elvis Costello playing live, leaving thoughts on new iPads, watches TV sets, OS X Mavericks and other developments for another day. The Apple Store is now back up with all the pricing details.