Yesterday for the first time I watched live a keynote by Apple. The reason was simple: some times ago I watched a video by Robert Scoble where he announced that Apple could completely disrupt the AR and VR market with the iPhone 8, because it could be the first device completely capable of AR and VR. I wrote an article reporting his thoughts and I was excited and scared by this possible revolution of the XR ecosystem.
The event has been pretty interesting, but I came out pretty deluded. I’ll tell you why in the remainder of this article.
Since I’ve assisted to the whole show waiting for the disruption moment, I’ll give you a summary of all its parts, highlighting the most important news and giving my point of view on them.
The event streaming began with the song “All you need is love” and a general overview of the Steve Jobs Theater. Then Tim Cook started speaking and he presented Apple’s new house, the Apple Park, that is super modern and super innovative and obviously with a supreme design. There is the Steve Jobs Theater, where events like this will be showcased. There is also a special Apple Store there, where people can try, among other things, a special augmented reality experience about the company. At the words “Augmented Reality” pronounced by Tim Cook in the first minutes of the event, I become super excited… AR seemed one of the main themes of Apple keynote.
After that, they commemorated Steve Jobs. This commemoration and all the event itself seemed to me something related to a religious sect more than to a company. It was moving but also weird.
Apple announced improvements of current Apple Stores and the opening of new big Apple Stores in major cities of the world. For instance, they’re opening a wonderful shop near the river in Chicago. Some shops are going to become plazas where you go there, assist to events, talk with people, try Apple devices, work with other people, exchange ideas, etc…
A new shopping experience, for sure. Like a church of their sect… cough cough
Apple Watch is now the most sold watch in the world. This is impressive, for a product that is considered to be a failure. A product that Tim Cook has called “A tiny computer on your wrist” (a very nice definition).
On September, 19th they’ll release a new version of the Apple Watch iOS that will include an improvement of various apps (fitness, activities, etc…) and most importantly the Apple Heart Study. This is a project thanks to which your Apple Watch monitors your heart rate to checks for possible problems and notifies you if you can have some heart issues. This is really important since most of the people that are starting having heart problems don’t notice that. I really liked this initiative since it can save lives, so congrats to Apple for that. The project will start only in the US for now.
Then they presented the new Apple Watch: the series 3. It is an evolution of the previous Watch in everything (even in colors and bands), but it has as disruptive feature the fact that it doesn’t need a companion phone anymore. With a special version of Apple Watch 3 (that works in some countries… and of course Italy is not among them), you can make phone calls, listening to music through iTunes and much more stuff directly from your watch. Your watch has the same phone number of your phone. Someone pointed me that the Samsung Gear S3 already had the same cellular functionality, but the fact that also Apple added it is interesting: it does mean that these smartwatches have now the potential of really becoming a tiny computer on your wrist. You can go to the seaside only with your smartwatch and be able to answer important calls or read the news without having to carry your smartphone with you.
Furthermore, about AR, I see smartwatches becoming interesting as well. I think that at least at the beginning, AR glasses will need a companion input device, to switch among options and click easily… because raising your arms to select everything or to type on a floating keyboard is tiresome as hell. I always thought this device should be the smartphone, but now I’m in doubt if it can be the smartwatch. Furthermore, the technology to put a tiny computer on your wrist can be the same to put a tiny computer on your head. And the smartwatch is a contextual device, giving you contextual infos, exactly as an AR glass should do during all day.
So I think that smartwatches are also something that is in the path for the AR future. And we all know that Apple sooner or later will release an AR glass. So all these improvements on Apple Watch are very interesting to me.
The new Apple TV 4K has been revealed. It uses HDR and Dolby technologies, so images and audio are awesome. The new TV is an improvement of previous one and the software now lets you see also live sports, live news, tv shows from your local TVs.
They called on the stage ThatGameCompany to showcase their game Sky, all focused on graphics and lights. I almost slept during all this session, so don’t ask me further details.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus
They presented two new models of iPhone: 8 and 8plus.
Long story short: they’re just an evolution of 7 and 7plus, with better colors, more processing power, more battery, etc… They should have called them 7.1 and 7.1plus. They presented the core processor of these phones. The previous one was called A10, so they called this one A11. Wow, so much fantasy! But, to make it sound cooler, they’ve added the world BIONIC after it, so its complete name is A11 BIONIC. Marketing fluff at its best. From tomorrow I’ll call myself Tony BIONIC, I think this would double my followers… Bionic makes everything look so cool. Anyway, this processor has lots of features and it is optimized for all technologies like AR, machine learning, gaming, etc…
Thanks to the two rear cameras, these devices are able to do “portrait lighting” in photos and videos. This means that the machine learning computer vision algos recognize where your face and body are and can do fancy stuff like removing completely the background and/or adding particular light effects to your face. This should make your photos more professional as if they were made in a studio. Nice feature.
“iPhone8 has hardware and software specialized for augmented reality” and there I was waiting for the big innovations.
I saw the big words “Augmented reality” on the screen and I was waiting for amazing news. Instead, they just talked about ARKit and how the A11 BIONIC will make it faster and better. The man on the stage talked about 3 upcoming AR apps, but to me most of them didn’t even seem ARKit related: one of them showed the possibility to see stars and constellations written in the sky (cool, but surely ARKit can’t track the sky since it’s too far away… so the app is made using geolocation and gyros data); another one let people in a stadium see where the various baseball players are in the field (this is really interesting, but again is made using another kind of data).
Then they called on stage Directive Games, to show its upcoming ARKit game. Their upcoming game The Machine was just a tabletop game where you can move around the table and shoot enemies. This was my reaction
I mean, I could make a similar game on Vuforia. There’s no need of ARKit. Furthermore, a game where you have to turn around a table to shoot is cool for the first time, then you find that rotating around the table with your phone in your hands is tiresome. And there’s no need to fuse the real and the virtual to do this shooting game and so they broke one of the most important rules when designing an AR app. Why play this game in AR? The table adds nothing to the experience. It would be better in VR.
I think they missed completely the point on augmented reality. An experience like MeasureKit is less impressive than a game, but shows the true spirit and utility of augmented reality on a phone. An app like this one has no sense in VR and has no sense without the real world images. And it wouldn’t be possible without ARKit. This would have been the ideal demo.
The fact that Apple is pushing on AR makes me happy because it is beneficial for the whole ecosystem, but I expected the announcement of some more evolutions of ARKit or the showcase of astonishing AR demos. This has not been the case. And I continue having the same doubts about ARKit revolution.
iOS 11 (that includes ARKit) will be distributed on September, 19th. So this is the date when we’ll start seeing people downloading AR apps on their iPhones.
iPhone 8 and 8plus (again)
All upcoming iPhones will have wireless charging. Finally.
The iPhone 8 and 8plus will be available from September 22 for $699 and $799.
At this point we were on social media quite angry, saying “They can’t have made just these phones”. I mean, announced features were interesting, but nothing worth an Apple presentation. These 8 and 8plus are just a nice evolution of 7 and 7 plus. Spoilers on the web teased that there would have been an iPhone X model for the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone and we were all waiting for this one.
Until now, no big news, no disruptions. They should have kept the surprise cake for the end of the party.
One more thing…
Tim Cook returned on stage and said that he has to say “one more thing…”. Everyone went nuts. The disruptions were coming. The iPhone X, the new model that will change the future was about to be presented.
A video started and introduced the cool design of iPhone X. Applauses everywhere. Tim Cook said that the first iPhone has set the road for the past decades of smartphones and so this iPhone will set the road for the next decade. I was excited by the possible features.
iPhone X has no borders and no buttons. You just swipe from bottom side to simulate the pressure of the Home button and press a side button to evocate Siri. The fact that has no borders makes the device elegant and clear. It has glass on the front and the rear of the device (someone says that this way you can break the glass both on the front and the rear :D).
The screen is finally OLED: has 2436*1125 r