With a launch in the third quarter of 2018, Ming-Chi Kuo says the new watches will have a 15% larger display. All Watches to date come in 38 mm or 42 mm screen sizes.
The analyst (who has one of the better track records of accuracy when it comes to Apple rumors) does not say whether the overall chassis will grow in proportion.
It is possible the new form factor incorporates thinner bezels, which would see the Apple Watch Series 4 feature a larger display without making the overall product larger. The report does mention a larger battery capacity which would suggest that is not going to be the case.
I completely forgot to write about this earlier in the week. Slimmer bezels are an easy way to make the screen bigger without increasing the physical body size. I would love to have more screen real estate on my wrist. This would open up new opportunities for Apple Watch and app developers. 1 I bet this is exactly what we’ll see in the new iteration, hopefully with an always-on watch face!
As I said in my Series 3 review, the current design is starting to get a little bit stale, and a new dot crown color isn’t going to cut it this time around. Less bezels/bigger screen would alter the design for the better (think iPhone X). Some folks also think Apple Watch is a little chunky, and they’re not wrong, but many mechanical watches are as chunky if not chunkier. If anything, I feel the rounded rectangle shape makes it seem chunkier than it really is. In other words, I personally don’t care for Apple to make it thinner.
One final thought: I still don’t think we’ll see a round watch face just yet (if ever). While I would love to see the design itself, it just doesn’t make sense from a UI/UX perspective. I wonder if it’s a hurdle we’ll ever surpass.
Anything to reignite the stagnate Apple Watch dev community. ↩
As best I’ve been able to ascertain, these builds were available to download by anyone, but they were obscured by long, unguessable URLs. Someone within Apple leaked the list of URLs to 9to5Mac and MacRumors. I’m nearly certain this wasn’t a mistake, but rather a deliberate malicious act by a rogue Apple employee. Whoever did this is the least popular person in Cupertino. More surprises were spoiled by this leak than any leak in Apple history.
That’s what I sounds like to me, too — the builds were already online and someone within Apple leaked the links to 9to5Mac. From there, the same links were posted on Reddit and potentially downloaded by thousands of people.
Apple stopped signing the GM build, but not after the damage had been done. They have lost the element of surprise for Tuesday’s keynote, but once the iPhone X gets into our hands, the leaks won’t matter. The actual phone and experience will. That’s where they haven’t lost anything. 1
It must be incredibly disheartening for the folks that poured their heart and soul into iOS 11 and iPhone X, only to have it spoiled a few days before the keynote. It must also be tough for Tim, Phil, and the other execs to take the stage Tuesday and act like this is the first time we’re seeing everything. I’m sure they will still handle it with aplomb.
Neither Mr Gruber nor the two Apple-related news sites have disclosed their sources.
However, the BBC has independently confirmed that an anonymous source provided the publications with links to iOS 11’s gold master (GM) code that downloaded the software from Apple’s own computer servers.
Such an incredibly shitty thing to do. I’m sure Apple will find out who it was.
All these leaks kinda render the bingo cards pointless, though. ↩
The top-tier iPhone announced next week will most likely start at $1,000. Some analysts seemingly can’t fathom this, as they are scrambling to come up with a way Apple can ‘justify’ the cost of such a product, but they’re missing the point. Here’s one example in particular.
Denial and Bargaining
Jim Edwards for Business Insider:
Apple will unveil its next iPhone on Tuesday, but there is a problem: iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition, or whatever it is called) may cost more than $1,000, or £760.
It’s only a problem if you don’t understand whom this phone is for and what it’s trying to accomplish.
Jim goes on to present a ‘solution’ from Barclays:
So how will Apple persuade you to pay even more for a phone that runs the same operating system as the one you may already be holding in your hand?
Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz and his team think they have figured that out, positing that Apple could offer free subscriptions to Apple Music and 200 GB of iCloud storage for one year, a deal worth $156, to anyone who buys iPhone 8. That would bring the perceived cost of the phone down to a potentially more palatable $844.
Not a bad idea, but also incredibly un-Apple. They don’t even bundle in the 29W USB-C fast charger with the purchase of an iPad Pro. You really think they’re going to give away nice margins on services to millions of customers because the phone is more expensive? I seriously doubt it. It’s not their MO.
Furthermore, the iPhone 8 is rumored to be different from a UI/UX perspective, so even though it runs the same operating system as Jim says, it’s not the same experience.
Missing the point
The purpose of the iPhone 8 (or whatever it’s going to be called) isn’t to get into the hands of every existing Apple customer.
The device will have advanced components which are difficult to produce in the kind of mass quantity Apple is accustomed to for their normal iPhone line. For instance: 3D facial recognition sensors, including a possible laser assembly. OLED screens in general are difficult to produce, let alone a custom-shaped one. Just yesterday, Ming-Chi Kuo estimated Apple is paying Samsung between $120-$130 for each screen panel (compared to $45-$55 for an LCD screen).
Because of this, it’s completely unrealistic to have the same expectations for this phone as you would for a normal release. Apple simply won’t be able to produce the same tens of millions of phones per quarter anyway. It’s a moot point.
The iPhone for diehards
Here’s the truth: iPhone 8 will be for diehard Apple fanatics, early adopters, extremely heavy iPhone users, and those who must live on the bleeding edge of technology. It’s also for those who have more money than they know what to do with and just want the best damn iPhone.
This iPhone won’t be for your typical parents, friends, co-workers, or family members who come to you for advice on technology. They will be content paying the same price as they normally would for the regular update (i.e. 7S/7S Plus).
Why make an ultra iPhone?
Why the hell not? The people that will buy this phone won’t care about its price in the long run. Apple doesn’t lose anything by creating an ultra iPhone tier, as they know they can maintain the production run of the normal line (i.e. 7S/7S Plus any beyond).
Here’s a few excellent points from Jason Snell and John Gruber on this subject.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Apple’s apparent difficulties with its next-generation phone model are in part the fault of designers and engineers who bet that new technology would be available—at scale and at the prices necessary for Apple to maintain its profit margins—in order to ship this new phone in the fall of 2017. But it’s also true that most cutting-edge technologies are going to cost more and initially be available in limited quantities, unless Apple makes huge investments in equipment and manufacturing and corners the world’s supply of those parts, which it has done on more than one occasion.
If you want to argue that Apple should never create an iPhone with a higher starting price than what we have today, you’re implicitly arguing that Apple should never put any components into a new iPhone that can’t be made at iPhone 7 scale. I think that’s dangerous strategically, leaving Apple open to attack from competitors making premium phones with components (cameras, displays, new sensors, new battery technologies, etc.) that can only be produced in single-digit millions per quarter.
On the other hand, without question, this “new premium tier” strategy that I’m suggesting poses its own significant risk for Apple. The mere existence of the new edge-to-edge OLED iPhone could dampen excitement for the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, leading to a decrease in overall sales. […]
Personally, I think this strategy makes sense, and arguably is overdue. In the same way it made sense for Honda and Toyota to create their Acura and Lexus divisions to sell higher-end cars without eroding the value or popularity of their best-selling Accords and Camrys, it makes sense for Apple to create a premium tier for the iPhone, the best-selling product the company has ever made and likely will ever make. But Apple won’t have the luxury (pardon the pun) of doing so under an Acura- or Lexus-like new brand. They’ll have to do it as Apple.
I’m here at IFA in Berlin, Germany which opens to the public today. Behind the scenes I’ve been discussing the upcoming iPhone launch on September 12th with many case vendors. At least two have heard, and have moved on, knowledge of the upcoming iPhone nomenclature and some details which they’ve separately learned from sources in Shenzhen who claim to have seen the new iPhone packaging.
First and most importantly, these people believe the names of the iPhones will be:
iPhone 8 Plus
One casemaker has updated their internal SKUs based on the information and is actively printing packaging which I was able to see in the form of preliminary artwork. The other had made sticker labels which they were showing to their retail partners behind closed doors. Both makers requested anonymity for obvious reasons.
iPhone 8/8 Plus I can get behind, as I really don’t care for the ‘S’ branding. However, in my opinion, the ‘Edition’ moniker is the worst branding Apple has ever used. The word simply makes no sense in this context. 1 Now, Apple has arguably used the ‘Pro’ moniker more loosely as of late, but at least the word is logical.
‘iPhone Edition’ implies a few things:
It is a version of a base product (i.e. Apple Phone, iPhone Edition). Dumb.
It is the top-tier version of its line.
It is the most expensive version of its line.
The last two are most likely true, but I think ‘Edition’ sends the wrong message when it comes to iPhone. If you think how it’s used now, Apple Watch Edition is only in reference to price and materials. It is equal in every other way to other Apple Watch versions. Conversely, the iPhone 8 (as we’ve been calling it) is going to be extremely different than the 7S/7S Plus in more than just price and materials (screen shape, UI/UX, buttons, and more). When used in this context, ‘Edition’ also implies a sense of gaudy superiority that I just don’t care for.
While nothing is official until September 12, I really hope they don’t call it iPhone Edition.
Mark Gurman is reporting that the iPhone 8 will not have a home button at all, instead having its functions replaced by gestures. While I would support the absence of a home button, many questions spring to mind based on Mark’s descriptions.
Unlocking the phone:
Across the bottom of the screen there’s a thin, software bar in lieu of the home button. A user can drag it up to the middle of the screen to open the phone.
The return of slide to unlock, but vertical? Not to say this wouldn’t work, but I’m a little skeptical. Also, how would Control Center be accessed from the Lock Screen?
Accessing multitasking (App Switcher):
When inside an app, a similar gesture starts multitasking. From here, users can continue to flick upwards to close the app and go back to the home screen. An animation in testing sucks the app back into its icon. The multitasking interface has been redesigned to appear like a series of standalone cards that can be swiped through, versus the stack of cards on current iPhones, the images show.
What happens to Control Center if its swipe-up gesture is changed to open the App Switcher? Does it become the card on the far-right, similar to iOS 11 on iPad? Does it get relegated to the Cover Sheet?
This sounds a lot like the following videos discovered in iOS 11 beta by Guilherme Rambo on Twitter. I would prefer Control Center become the far-right card on the App Switcher.
Redesign of the App Switcher cards sounds a lot like iOS 7’s initial implementation. Quite honestly, I don’t prefer one design over another, but perhaps there’s a reason behind this change that isn’t yet apparent.
Mark also mentions that Apple will embrace the notch cutout an the top of the screen.
Apple has opted to not hide the notch area at the top of the screen, showing a definitive cutout at the top of apps with non-black backgrounds. The cutout is noticeable during app usage in the middle of the very top of the screen, where the status bar (the area that shows cellular reception, the time, and battery life) would normally be placed, according to the images. Instead, the status bar will be split into left and right sides, which some Apple employees call “ears” internally. In images of recent test devices, the left side shows the time while the area on the right side of the notch displays cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity and remaining battery life. Because of limited space, the status bar could change based on the task at hand, according to a person familiar with the testing.
Makes sense to make use of the space for indicators, but it would definitely take some getting used to.
Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has an update to the recent LTE Apple Watch report that includes a few details about what to expect. Kuo expects cellular models of the Apple Watch will use an eSIM and not a physical SIM card as a space-saving measure, and the cellular connection may only be used for data transfer and not phone call features.
Of course the Apple Watch won’t have a removable SIM — that would look terrible and be ridiculous to access.
KGI already forecasted what Bloomberg first reported: the cellular Apple Watch will feature LTE connectivity but offer no 3G connection which will limit it to certain markets and countries. Today KGI adds that it believes Apple could choose Qualcomm over Intel for the baseband chip as the former company offers a smaller, low power solution.
I could get on board with this. It’s time to leave 3G in the past.
The other new development is Kuo expects Apple could omit phone call capabilities from the LTE model of the new Apple Watch. You can already make phone calls from the Apple Watch when it’s paired with a nearby iPhone and there’s no technical limitation with the implementation, but KGI expects Apple may want to improve the “user experience” of data transmission before enabling voice services.
Curiously, the report doesn’t rule out VoIP services like Skype and FaceTime for calling however. Still, this will be a notable setback if the cellular Apple Watch can’t place and receive voice calls.
This would both be incredibly unfortunate and typical Apple (playing it safe in terms of battery life). I was expecting a cellular Apple Watch to be the true Dick Tracy watch, but it won’t quite be if it doesn’t handle phone calls on its own. Even though phone calling is a less-used feature on our iPhones, having it on the Watch is incredibly valuable in a pinch and even better when paired with AirPods or other wireless headphones.
If this is true, here’s the major downside: say you go for a run with just your LTE Watch. If you’re expecting a phone call, you will still need to take your phone — kind of defeats the purpose.
My bet is that FaceTime Audio will at least be available when only on LTE. Maybe Apple could work some magic to forward LTE-based calls to FaceTime Audio on your Watch in this circumstance. Of course, your caller would need to have an Apple device, but that would work for me.
Thanks to the accidentally leaked HomePod firmware, 1 it’s almost certain that Touch ID will not continue in the iPhone 8. Apple may be opting for a face unlocking feature dubbed ‘Pearl ID’.
Facial biometrics have always been a lacking mechanism for security, at least in the consumer market. It’s pretty bad in most implementations, so everyone is up in arms about this feature possibly replacing the tried-and-true Touch ID we’ve had since the iPhone 5S. Which, if you remember, doubters largely acted the same way about fingerprint sensors when Touch ID was announced. The point is: everyone seems to forget that Apple undoubtedly has found ways to overcome the downsides of these implementations, or they wouldn’t be doing this.
Since Pearl ID is a speculated name, let’s just call it Face ID for the sake of this post. Here’s how I could see it working.
Unlocking the Phone
Apple changed the unlocking behavior in iOS 10 from a press of the home button to simply resting your finger on it. I now believe Apple made this change to pave the way for Face ID. Why? Let’s think about what’s required to only unlock an iPhone right now with Touch ID.
Unlocking with Touch ID
Wake your phone via:
Raise to wake.
Pressing the Sleep/Wake button.
Pressing the Home button with a non-registered finger.
Rest your finger on the Touch ID sensor.
You can then take action on your notifications, press the Home button to go Home, launch straight into apps from the widget screen, etc. You’re authenticated.
Where’s step two, you say? That’s the beauty of it — step two is handled by the phone. Whenever you are looking at the phone while the Lock Screen is presented, Face ID would authenticate you. You can then perform all the normal actions from the Lock Screen like usual. If you look away, the phone is instantly locked again.
Low false positives, given that the iPhone will purportedly use 3D-sensing cameras to differentiate between a picture of your face and your actual face.
Making Purchases: App Store & Apple Pay
Touch ID can also be used to make purchases in the App Store and iTunes Store, as well as authenticate payments for Apple Pay. Here’s how Apple could replicate this with Face ID and a gesture.
Instead of a Touch ID prompt, you are presented with a Face ID prompt and an on-screen button.
Simply look at the phone and hold an on-screen button for 3 seconds.
Face ID provides the biometric authentication, while holding an on-screen button would indicate intent. It also would give you time to back out (something that is actually a little harder to do with Touch ID). This would work for both App Store Purchases and Apple Pay. With Apple Pay, you would hover your iPhone over the NFC terminal like usual, then follow the process outlined above. Same goes for sending Apple Pay Cash to friends and family when iOS 11 launches in the fall.
iPhone 8-Specific Feature: App Locking
With this kind of ambient authentication, I think the iPhone 8 has the potential to receive special features taking advantage of Face ID. One I can think of is App Locking, something frequently requested to this day for use with Touch ID.
In other words, apps are only allowed to show their content if you are actively looking at the phone. Take a banking app for example. You would launch it, but it wouldn’t show anything until you actually look at the phone and are authenticated by Face ID. To take it one step further in theory: once you look away, the content could be hidden until you look back again.
The Sleep/Wake Button
I think the Face ID change is what could be driving a larger Sleep/Wake button to be present in the leaks that have come out. Because of Face ID’s ambient nature, we may benefit from easier access to the Sleep/Wake button. Making it longer would help enable that.
Also, it makes sense to differentiate this button in size from the volume up/down buttons. I never could understand why Apple made them the same size in the first place, other than for congruency. Quite a few times while trying to lock the phone while holding it a specific way, I’ve pressed both the Sleep/Wake button and Volume Down button. I’ve read others have experienced the same thing, so it would be nice to not accidentally do this anymore.
The Cover Sheet
iOS 11 replaces Notification Center with the Cover Sheet, which blurs the lines between the Lock Screen and the old Notification Center. A puzzling change to this date, Federico Viticci speculated this morning on Twitter that it may provide a way to lock the iPhone 8. While I initially disagreed with this theory, I think it’s plausible if you take into account the ambient nature of Face ID as outlined above. I would perhaps just question calling this the Cover Sheet on iPhone 8, instead of just Lock Screen.
So if the iPhone Pro can automatically unlock with Face ID, Lock screen & Cover Sheet become virtually the same. Now that makes more sense.
Thinking this through has made me excited for Face ID and highlights the flaws of Touch ID. This kind of interaction would be something Apple is great at: simplifying things we already thought were perfect. We’re looking at our phones all the time anyway — might as well make use of our beautiful mugs.
We’ve received a couple of photos from Apple tipster Sonny Dickson this morning that depict a dummy model for the ‘iPhone 7s Plus’, one of three new phones Apple is said to be launching this year. Although marketing branding is unknown, the ‘7s’ devices are expected to iterate on the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus chassis.
One distinction will be the introduction of glass backs (rather than aluminium), which this dummy model incorporates. It is believed that the phones will support inductive charging.
If these are legit, there’s no way Apple is going to call these devices “7S”. The S models have had minor cosmetic differences from the preceding year’s non-S iPhones, but these phones are sporting entire new designs.
I also think that the “7S” name would contribute to the notion that Apple’s “S” phones are only modest updates, when the truth is that the S phones tend to get the bigger technical improvements. I suspect Apple will use one of these sets of names:
iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8 Pro; or
iPhone, iPhone Plus, iPhone Pro
Either of these naming schemes would make all three new iPhones sound new.
While I think Apple could abandon the ‘S’ branding for its traditional update, I’d argue they could still get away with it even if the back of the phone is made out of glass for wireless charging. My main reason: most rumors and leaks indicate the front will be relatively the same as the iPhone 7/7 Plus.
Now, if the front was believed to also be receiving an edge-to-edge screen without a Touch ID home button, I’d buy into the iPhone 8/iPhone 8 Plus/iPhone Pro line of thinking. Since that’s not the case, iPhone/iPhone Plus/iPhone Pro sounds like the more believable of the two.
Recently, there have been quite a few interesting takes on what Apple would do with the home button on an iPhone with an edge-to-edge screen. I’ll refer you to two takes in particular. For the sake of this post, let’s call the device in question iPhone Pro.
Make sure you read both of these in their entirety. There’s some really great thinking here.
First, Allen Pike made a case for the huge app titles in iOS 11, which could support the back button and other functions that could be relocated to the bottom of the UI. Quite brilliant, actually! I’m just not on board with a soft home button.
Then, Max Rudberg riffed on this with his own take, expanding on Allen’s concept in regards to the iPhone Pro’s alleged ‘notch’. I’m a big fan of his second concept depicted below.
Of his four concepts, this one seems the most likely to me. Apple could also blend in the bottom and make it black like Max’s last concept, but that would defeat the purpose of an edge-to-edge screen for me. It would be perceivably smaller in most apps as a result. Having the bottom area take over the color scheme of the app and adapting would make the most sense and in accordance with Apple’s UI design.
That said, I think Apple should take it one step further and just remove any and all representation of a home button. We’ve had ten years of training and know exactly where the home button is supposed to be — in the middle-bottom part of the phone. Why do we need a software reminder taking up screen real estate that could be better served for other purposes, as demonstrated by Allen and Max? I’ve never been a fan of soft home buttons on Android and hope Apple bucks the trend.
Here’s how I’m proposing they do it (borrowing from Max’s concept): a bottom-edge home button area activated by 3D Touch.
As I’ve mentioned before, I feel the home button functionality could be replicated by a 3D Touch press along the bottom edge (the area highlighted by the red box). This would be similar to the now-removed left side 3D Touch edge press to activate the app switcher pre-iOS 11. 1
If you don’t think it would work, without looking or specifically trying to hit the home button, try pressing the red box area on your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. If your results are similar to mine, your thumb should hit the home button’s bottom edge and activate it. This would leave the middle section free for other elements to be taken advantage of by apps or the system.
It seems increasingly likely that the iPhone Pro will use face recognition in lieu of Touch ID. As identified by notorious iOS prodder Steve Troughton-Smith, there are references to this feature possibly being called Pearl ID. In other words, whether the home button is represented or not, your fingerprint would be irrelevant.
I can confirm reports that HomePod’s firmware reveals the existence of upcoming iPhone’s infra-red face unlock in BiometricKit and elsewhere pic.twitter.com/yLsgCx7OTZ
This raises an interesting question. If the home button no longer has dedicated real estate but is, instead a fungible, virtual spot, with the ability to be turned on and off, what happens if an app runs full screen? How will you exit the app?
In other words, if a game takes over the full screen, presumably the home button will not be there. What will the user do to force exit the app, to return to the home screen?
To be crystal clear, I don’t see this as a problem. I see this as an interesting puzzle. We don’t know that the home button will disappear, we don’t know that developers will be allowed to grab the full screen without saving room for the home button.
Great points by Dave. I think all of this could be solved with a 3D Touch home button on the edge.
Peeking and Popping the Home Button
3D Touch can differentiate between levels of pressure, which is why we can peek/pop UI elements on the screen, but the existing static home button only interprets one level. Taking a 3D Touch-activated home button into account, here are some sample interaction methods I can think of that would be great no matter the button’s implementation.
For ease of explanation, let’s use two levels of pressure referred to as Peek and Pop.
Peek: takes you back home just like normal.
Double Peek: enters the App Switcher just like normal.
Peek (hold): engages Siri just like normal.
Essentially, all the interactions we use the home button for now.
Peek > Pop: enters the App Switcher or engages Siri.
I would prefer the App Switcher in order to make up for the removed left-edge gesture, but I could see how triggering Siri could work here too.
Conclusion: UI is getting out of our way
Apple is on the cusp of releasing an iPhone that is different in many ways. In the examples described, the iOS UI and UX may differ slightly when compared to the traditional iPhone line, but to repeat the same formula for years on end just doesn’t make sense either. As Gruber has been saying, it’s risky for Apple not to try this — for what essentially could amount to a power user iPhone.
Apple has been criticized a bit for 3D Touch with regards to its hidden nature. In some cases, it’s not exactly clear what UI elements you can 3D Touch or when you can touch them. I use it quite a bit and would mostly agree, but therefore regard it as somewhat of a power user feature.
For instance, some have described the use of 3D Touch on home screen app icons as analogous to a context click on the Mac, which makes total sense. Same goes for the incredibly awesome keyboard gesture used to move the text cursor and select text. I could never go back to tap-and-hold for text selection after using the 3D Touch implementation. The thing is, most people probably don’t know of these interactions unless they’ve read about it in the Tips app, online, or someone has told them. Even then, I’d wager most people forget about them or are simply content with the basic interaction methods.
My point is this: UI is increasingly getting out of our way. Maybe we lose a little intuitiveness in the process, but I think it’s worth it. Apple is building a new interaction language that will become so ubiquitous in the coming years that its intuition will matter less and less.
I’m still salty about the removal of that gesture, but perhaps this is the reason why. ↩
The graph shows a high degree of consistency of pattern: Every year a new iPhone is launched which replaces the one launched the year before. The older product is still offered at a reduced price. Price brackets are very firm and set at fixed intervals about $100 apart.
The “floor” of the range is a consistent $400 while the “ceiling” has expanded from $700 to about $950.
This year’s ceiling is due for the fourth leg up and if the pattern persists, we should expect it to reach $1100.
Definitely check out the whole post. There’s some excellent graphs and data-driven logic. The price lines up with Gruber’s thought process as well. With growing analysis, it seems inevitable that the iPhone 8 will be the most expensive iPhone when it launches. The only thing nobody can decide on is what it will actually be called.