A Day At The Atlanta Botanical Gardens:   iPhone 11 Pro Max Camera Test 

The iPhone 11 Pro has been out for a few weeks now, and early impressions continue to hold the new iPhone cameras in high regard. As someone who used their iPhone as their primary camera, I was excited to finally get my hands on the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Once I finally got my device, I rushed to one of the most photogenic spots in the city. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens was my destination. Filled with colorful and exotic plants, what better local to test Apple’s latest and greatest camera sensors.

Below I will share some of the photos I captured on this trip. As a disclaimer, I am not a professional photographer, nor have these photos been edited by me. Any edits to these photos have been facilitated by the iPhones photo processing, which is automatic.

IMG_0141.jpeg

 

Red Flowering Plant: Telephoto Lens

 

IMG_0232.jpeg

Pink Flowering Plant, With Water droplets: Telephoto Lens

IMG_0192.jpeg

Ultra Wide View of Various Green Leaves: Ultra Wide Lens

IMG_0048.jpeg

Bumble Bee Resting: Telephoto Lens

IMG_0005.jpeg

Red Leaves: Standard Wide Lens

IMG_0043.jpeg

Close up Red Flower: Standard Wide Lens

 

All Photos are credited to Kostner Guyton and are Property of iPhoneTennisMatch.com. Please contact Kostner Guyton @iPhoneTennismatch@gmail.com for permissions regarding these photos.

Should You Update to the latest iPhones?

On September 10th, Apple held its annual iPhone update event. The company unveiled three different models of phones for its customers to choose from. These phones included the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. As reactions from this event pour in, the consensus seems to be that these phones are incremental upgrades from last year’s models. Before we discuss if you upgrade your phone this year, we will cover what is new with these iPhones.

iPhone 11

Apple’s naming strategy for their phones has been unpredictable as of late. You might think the iPhone 11 would become the direct successor of the iPhone 10s (Xs). In terms of the processor, yes, there is an upgrade there. However, the screen resolution is much lower on the iPhone 11 over the Xs. Also, the XS uses an OLED display while the iPhone 11 still uses an LED display. In essence, the iPhone 11’s purpose is to be a comparable phone to last year’s extremely popular iPhone XR. The XR was a successful attempt by Apple to introduce another budget model of its iPhone. The iPhone 11 hopes to continue that trend and hopefully persuade cost-conscious customers to upgrade their aging iPhones finally. So what does the iPhone 11 offer?

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 3.14.50 PM
Photo Credit: Apple

First, we will cover what is the same as last year’s XR. The iPhone 11 still has its 6.1-inch Liquid Retina Display. The display has a roughly 720p resolution, which sounds disappointing on paper. However, the display is very sharp and showcases vibrant and accurate colors. Users of the iPhone XR have been satisfied with the display, and keeping the resolution the same is an efficient way for Apple to keep the cost of the phone lower. Speaking of the costs, the price for the iPhone 11 is about $50 cheaper than last year’s XR. This strategy is exciting news for budget wary customers as the iPhone 11 is priced at $699 to start instead of the $749 starting price of the XR last year.

It’s not all the same with the iPhone 11. This time the iPhone 11 gets a dual camera set up like the iPhone 10. Only this time the iPhone 11 is getting a wide-angle lens and an ultra-wide lens. If you want the extra zoom of the telephoto lens, you need to pick up an iPhone 11 Pro.

iPhone 11 Pro (Max)

Like the iPhone 11 and XR, much hasn’t changed between this year’s flagships from last year’s model. The iPhone 11 Pro models are the direct successors to last year’s XS phones. As you might expect, the phones are physically very similar to the XS. The display sizes remain the same at 5.8 in for the 11 Pro and 6.5 in for the 11 Pro Max. The resolution for the phones also stays the same. The iPhone 11 Pro’s display does get significantly brighter. The phones can sustain a brightness of around 800 nits, and reach a peak brightness of about 1200 nits. The 1200 nit peak cannot be sustained for extended periods, and will only trigger in specific situations. The Cameras on the iPhone 11 Pro have also changed. The phones now sport a triple-lens setup. All of the lenses are 12 MP but have different functions. The primary shooter is a wide-angle lens. The telephoto lens has also returned to provide a 2x optical zoom. This time, however, the telephoto lens will have a much wider aperture to let in more light. This wider aperture should significantly improve low light photography when taking macro photos. Finally, the third lens on the new iPhone is the ultra-wide camera. This lens will allow the iPhone to take a much better landscape or pictures of large groups of people.

Aside from the significant camera improvements, the iPhone 11’s battery life has been noticeably improved. The iPhone 11 Pro is expected to achieve four hours more battery life than the XS, and the 11 Pro Max should receive five more hours than the XS Max.
While the changes presented here are significant, in the grand scheme of things they may seem incremental.
Should You Upgrade?

The decision to upgrade or rather my endorsement to upgrade depends mostly on what your current device is. If you are using a phone older than the iPhone X I would highly suggest upgrading. The speed, battery, and camera improvements will be monumental for your user experience. If you have an iPhone X or newer, it depends on if you want the best iPhone you can get. Full disclosure, I am an iPhone XS Max user, and I am upgrading to the 11 Pro Max. I love taking photos on my iPhone. I, however, was beginning to fall out of love with the camera experience on the iPhone. The more I saw pictures from Googles Pixel 3. The new camera updates to the 11 Pro have me excited again, and I’m eager to have a comparable camera experience to Google’s phones.

If you don’t primarily use your iPhone for photography, and the battery life is exceptional on your current iPhone, I would hold off and wait for the 2020 iPhone. In 2020 Apple should be ready to refresh the design of the iPhone significantly and finally make some changes to the notch.

Samsung Unveils The Expensive Galaxy Note 10 Plus, But it’s Still Cheaper Than Last Years iPhone XS Max.

 
It’s no secret, flagship smartphone prices are on the rise and climbing to extraordinary heights. Apple started this trend with its first thousand-dollar iPhone back when the iPhone X released. Apple pressed its customers, even more, then Apple announced the follow up to the iPhone X, the Xs Max and Xs. The top of the line iPhone XS Max with Max storage of 512 GB will cost potential buyers about $1500 after taxes and fees. Samsung has been trying to increase its prices as well, most likely trying to improve its profit margins. Samsung, however, has taken a different approach to their pricing. Their prices continue to climb with Apple, but they seem to undercut them by about $100-$200 consistently. For comparison, Samsung’s new Galaxy Note Plus with 512GB and 5G compatible is 1399.99 concerning Apples iPhone XS Max with 512 GB and no 5G option priced at $1449. Contrary to Apple’s Pricing Strategy, Samsung feels compelled to assure you that your money is well spent. Let’s go over what all Samsung is offering this fall.

Galaxy Note 10 (Not Plus)
This year Samsung decided it would try offering two different models of its Note phones. The first and more affordable option is the Base Galaxy Note 10. The note 10 features a 6.3″ 1080p AMOLED display with very minimal bezels. The Note 10 uses the infinity “O” variant of its display meaning it has a single small circular cutout placed directly centered near the top pf the phone. This camera layout is in contrast to the Galaxy S 10 (Plus) which has a dual camera cutout in the shape of a pill in the right-hand corner of the phone. Speaking of Cameras both the Galaxy S 10 and the Note 10 have triple-lens cameras on the rear of the device. The Note 10 has two 12MP ( Mega Pixel) cameras one has a wide-angle lens, and the other utilizes a telephoto lens. The final lens has a 16MP sensor that is used to take ultra-wide photos. The handsets will also come in a variety of colors with an iridescent gloss continuing their psychedelic phone aesthetic. Instead of facial recognition, the Note 10 will continue to use an ultrasonic fingerprint reader that is embedded in the bottom of the display. The base model of the Note 10 ships with an impressive 256 GB of storage, it, however, does not feature a Micro SD card slot. Pricing for the Note 10 Starts at $949.

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 1.59.54 PM
Photo Credit: Samsung

Galaxy Note 10 Plus
The Note 10 Plus is nearly the same with its smaller counterpart, but this version of the phone does have a few key differences. First is the screen size. The Note 10 Plus features a 6.8″ display and a Quad HD resolution. Also different from its smaller brother is the option to utilize a Micro SD card for expandable storage. Samsung is finally making its user base pay a premium for that feature. Another feature that is exclusive to the Note 10 Plus is the depth sensing camera on the back, a 512 GB storage option, and the option to have a 5G modem in the phone. The Smaller Note 10 won’t have a 5G option. Pricing for the Note 10 Plus is as follows. $1099 256 GB, $1199 512 GB, and $1399 512GB and 5G. Again I have to reiterate even the fully specked Note 10 Plus with 5G capabilities is cheaper than the maxed out iPhone XS Max nearly a year after its release. Hopefully, this years’ iPhone 11 will have killer features that will justify its sticker price. Otherwise, I fear many looking to upgrade will jump to Samsung’s more affordable offering.

Buyers Beware: Nintendo Has Unveiled Two New Switch Models

 

Rumors about the now confirmed Switch Lite and a potential “pro” upgrade to the Switch have been circulating the internet for over a year now. Finally, these rumors have proven to be at least partially true. In a series of minimal press announcements, Nintendo has announced the upcoming Switch Lite. The Switch Lite will be a smaller console that can only be used in handheld mode. The Switch Lite will not be able to interface with the Joy-con controllers like its bigger sibling physically. There are a few games that can only be played in docked or tabletop mode, and the Switch Lite won’t be able to play those games. Thankfully the Switch Lite has more than just caveats. The console will get a significant boost to its battery life ranging anywhere from 3-7 hours depending on the game being played. The system will also come in three new colors. These colors will include grey, yellow, turquoise, and a special edition Pokemon Sword and Shield color variant with a graphic on the rear displaying the new legendary Pokemon. Most impressive Nintendo has managed to shave $100 off the MSRB of the Switch Lite meaning it will retail for $199 instead of $299 which is the price of the base switch model. The Switch Lite will be released this Autumn on September 20th. 

switchlitepokemon2.jpg
Photo Credit: Nintendo 

 

Nintendo didn’t Stop with the Switch Lite. They have also announced a new version of their base switch model will be rolling out this fall. This Switch will be branded identically to the previous Switch model, which means consumers are going to have to be vigilant to make sure they are getting the updated console. The updates to this version of the Switch aren’t significant enough to warrant a new name or even the “NEW” moniker Nintendo has used in the past for their 3DS systems. This newer model Switch is confirmed to have better battery life than the previous Switch and its new Lite variant. The battery life for this Switch will range anywhere from 4.5-9 hours of gameplay depending on the game being played. The updated Switch unit will be priced at $299, the same price as the original Switch. It’s safe to assume the older Switch models with the inferior battery life will also still be priced at $299. To avoid buying the older units, shoppers should look at the serial numbers on the boxes. The code for the newer units should begin with the letters “XKW.”

I wouldn’t be too concerned over this as the holiday season is approaching. I anticipate Nintendo will flood store shelves with the newer switch models and Switch Lite, so chances are you will get the newer models if you buy one this fall.

If you have been holding out on a Switch I would recommend waiting until this fall so you can get the best that is being offered, and if you currently already own a switch I don’t see much need to upgrade. If you are worried about battery life, I recommend spending less money and getting an external battery pack.

As for those holding out for a Switch Pro rest assured it isn’t coming out this year or likely next year, so go ahead and find a good deal on a Switch when you find one.

The LAST Thing Nintendo Needs is a “Less Powerful” Switch.  (Switch Mini Rumors) 

Rumors concerning the impending reveal of a new “Switch Mini” are causing quite the stir online and within Nintendo’s own board meeting. Investors directly ask executives about the possibility of the Switch Mini at a recent meeting. Nintendo only critically said that they wouldn’t prematurely announce any new hardware so they could preserve a sense of “surprise” for their audience. 

Nintendo is no stranger to releasing various hardware iterations of their gaming consoles. The last being their “New” Nintendo 3DS which boosted CPU speeds and a few hardware tweaks. The company also released the Nintendo 2DS Which was essentially a wedge-shaped 3DS without the 3D capabilities. Nintendo released the 2DS to achieve a lower price point for their customers who might be willing to give up 3D elements to their games in exchange for a more affordable product. 

Some online are suggesting that the Switch Mini may have various technological compromises to achieve a lower price point for consumers. These compromises may be the lack of Joy-cons, a smaller and lower resolution screen, a smaller battery, and perhaps a lower clocked CPU and GPU. Of all of these potential cuts, the clock speed of the CPU and GPU and the battery capacity should be unchanged. 

 

960x0
Photo Credit: Honson

Quite frankly, the LAST thing that Nintendo needs is a less powerful Switch unit. I love my Nintendo Switch despite the raw power difference between the Switch and other consoles, the Switch is still my go-to device for gaming. This is primarily due to the unique selection of games such as Zelda, Xenoblade, and Splatoon, for example. I do however have to admit that the current version of the Nintendo Switch is underpowered. Yes, I said it! Because it’s true! It’s 2019, and Nintendo has YET to provide a home console that can reliably deliver at LEAST a1080p resolution or 60 fps across its games. Some do hit that mark but surely not enough do. Current Generation consoles like PS4 Pro and Xbox 1X are already flirting with 4K resolutions, so needless to Say Nintendo is falling behind on that front. 

While Switch Ports like Doom and Wolfenstein are impressive “given the hardware,” I think, fans would just like comparable ports of AAA games without the stipulations. I get it, the Switch is a Hybrid console, so sacrifices had to be made, but also better design choices could have been made. This is where the conversation gets back to the switch mini. If the Switch Mini is less powerful than the current generation Switch, how on Earth will performance fare especially with the switches more ambitious games like Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (which at some points struggles to run on the current hardware).

217633_screenshot_01_l
Photo Credit: Nintendo/ Monolith Soft: Xenoblade 2

I hope that the current Switch model gets a significant price drop and instead of a Switch Mini, Nintendo reveals a Switch-Pro with advanced specs, improved performance, and visuals for existing games. 

Questions About iOS We have After WWDC.

During this year’s WWDC, Apple debuted its future for its various operations systems. Highlights included iOS 13, MacOS Catalina, and the debut of Apple’s newest operating system iPad OS. While Apple revealed a great deal about these upcoming software releases, there are still many questions we have about the operating systems themselves, including how they will affect existing devices, and to what degree the new features will be implemented.

iOS 13

Screen Shot 2019-06-06 at 2.24.33 PM.png
Photo Credit: Apple

My biggest question about iOS 13 is regarding the new Dark Mode. I wonder if Dark Mode will present “true blacks” on OLED devices such as the various iPhone X models except for the XR which uses a liquid retina display which is an LCD. When I say a “true black,” I mean pixels being entirely turned off while using dark mode. If this is the case, I iPhone X(s, Max) could see gains in battery life because fewer pixels have to be illuminated and thus are saving energy. Older iPhones and the XR will of course not be able to achieve true blacks dude to the nature of LCDs, but I’m sure the Dark Mode will still be much easier on the eyes, there however just won’t be any battery savings. 

TvOS 

As a gamer, you can imagine that I was excited at the announcement that the Apple TV would natively support PlayStation and Xbox One controllers. This is fantastic news as I have been highly reluctant to purchase one of the expensive MiFi controllers that were compatible with iOS and TvOS. As I already own multiple PS4 controllers, I now feel empowered to try out more games on my Apple TV. I am, however, more curious about the support Playstation and Xbox controllers will have with iOS, Mac OS, and iPad OS. The Nintendo Switch is one of my favorite gaming consoles due to its very portable nature, other devices I always have with me are my iPad, my MacBook, and my iPhone. I have never liked only having a touch screen for gaming inputs, and I know I could have purchased one of those MiFi controllers, but as I said, I already have enough controllers at home laying around. A few years back, I bought Final Fantasy 7 and Transistor on iOS, but I just didn’t want to play with touch controls or buy a new controller to play them. But now I have the option to play both of these games on my Switch. I historically haven’t had a problem with double dipping on games, when they release on a platform that is more in line with my play-style, and I’ve been on the fence about purchasing these games on Switch. But now my decision will depend on if I can natively use my PS4 controller with my iPad because in that case, I will stick with those games on iOS. 

iPadOS 

Screen Shot 2019-06-06 at 2.33.44 PM.png
Photo Credit: Apple 

 

Year after year, changes to the software experience on iPad had stolen the show at WWDC, and this year was no different. This time, Apple defined a new pedigree for the software experience on iPad by giving the device its own operating system. iPadOS is the new name of the software that will now power iPad Devices. At this time, iPadOS isn’t a significant departure from the iOS experience on iPad but is different in a few key ways. A notable update is that multitasking is now improved on iPadOS. Multitasking has been improved by allowing better window management and allowing multiple windows of the same app to be displayed. Two of the most desired features that I wanted for iPad (https://iphonetennismatch.com/) are finally making their way to the tablet. The First feature is one that Apple omitted from their presentation, but none the less is present in iPadOS and will for many vastly improve their iPad workflows. That feature is mouse support on the iPad. This feature won’t be immediately apparent as Apple wants you to primarily utilize the iPad’s touch screen to navigate menus and apps. The support for mice and trackpads will be found in the accessibility section of the settings app and can be toggled on or off. It has been confirmed that Apple’s own Magic Mouse and Trackpad will be compatible with iPads on iPadOS. The cursor will be the same found In the assistive touch function found in iOS. Whether or not Apple will add a proper cursor or be more forthcoming on the addition of this feature will remain to be seen.  The Second feature that I anticipated coming to the iPad was the adoption of native support for using an iPad a second display for the Mac. Apple did publicize this feature during its keynote, and they called this feature “Side Car.” It has been confirmed that this feature can be used via USB-C and a wireless Bluetooth connection. There are however questions on whether older iPads that use a lighting cable will be able to utilize the Side Car feature, or if older Macs will be able to interface with newer iPads using this feature as well. According to some sources, All iPads that can support iPadOS will be able to use the Sidecar feature with Macs that can install MacOS Catalina. I do hope that this is the case as it wouldn’t force current Mac and iPad users to upgrade their devices to take advantage of this feature. 

Our Wishlist & Predictions For The World Wide Developer’s Conference

 

With WWDC less than a month away and with rumors spreading concerning which features will come to iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and TvOS this fall, it seemed like an opportune moment to share our wishlists and predictions for the World Wide Developers Conference.

 iOS13 

My number one wish for iOS is a system-wide Dark Mode for iPhones and iPads. Dark modes for phones and laptops are popping up everywhere. Last year Apple gave us hope by announcing dark mode for MacOS, and I’m hoping this year the iPhone and iPad will follow suit. Even Google is getting in on the action as at their Google I/O event, they announced a system-wide dark mode was coming to the latest version of Android. As other operating systems are adopting this feature, I anticipate the inclusion of dark mode on iOS is very likely.

Apple Finally added a user accessible file system to their iOS devices on iOS 11, while this addition was much appreciated, a fuller-featured file manager should be encouraged. Adding more robust support for external storage and management of files stored on those devices would be ideal. Apple wants us to envision the iPad as a viable replacement for our laptops but to do that the iPad needs to function more like a laptop in critical ways such as file management. Due to constant pressure from competitors and Apple’s user base, I anticipate this feature is moderate likely, but it will be implemented in Apple fashion (file type restrictions, installation restrictions, etc.).

I’ve been praying for the addition of a native option for using the iPad Pro as a secondary display for Mac. I’m very hopeful this feature will finally be made available for my mobile workflows. I do however believe if this feature is implemented, it will only be available on iPad Pros with a USB Type C Port, as the lightning port might not have enough bandwidth to support a high-resolution extension of a Mac display. This feature has been available for some time with the use of third-party apps such as Duet and Astropad, but due to the bandwidth of the lightning port video output is highly compressed and the refresh rate is much lower than traditional monitors and displays. 

Multitasking on iPad has significantly advanced over the last couple iterations of iOS, but to truly compete with desktop operating systems, the iPad needs to implement windowed multitasking. These windows need to be arranged as desired or arrange in a split screen configuration as well. Again due to the competition and demand from its user base, I would assume the addition of this feature to be very likely as Apple continues to persuade users that the iPad is a viable replacement for laptops.

 Besides, better multitasking tools on iPad, Apple should also add mouse support to the iPad Pro. With the addition of the Apple Pencil and support for external keyboards, I find my fingers rarely touching the iPads screen. I notice this in specific workflows, especially when I decide to try typing documents on the device. It’s always an inconvenience to move my hand towards the touchscreen to adjust my cursor, and when I try its never as accurate as a mouse’s input. As Apple would have to rework most of their first party apps to utilize mouse support, I would say the addition of this feature is unlikely to slightly likely. 

WatchOS 6

I personally don’t want or expect too much from the next version of WatchOS. The Apple Watch is already one of the most feature-rich smartwatches on the market and understandably one of the most popular wearables. The Apple Watch does have some glaring omissions to its software offerings that wish Apple would finally address. First, I would like Apple to allow support for third-party watch faces. An SDK for building watch faces and a spot in the App Store would create an entirely new development sector for Apple and developers. The only new watch faces Apple Watch owners get are from Apple directly or collaborations other companies have arranged directly with Apple. Examples of this are Pixar’s Toy Story watch faces and Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse watch faces. I would also appreciate more options with the Watch Face options Apple gives us by default. For example, I like to use the live Jellyfish* watch face, though all of the jellies shown are fine, I’d like only one or two of the pictures to be in the rotation. Apple, however, gives you an all or nothing option on that front. Apple also provides a few minimalist watch faces in various colors, which I do enjoy. However, I do wish Apple Watch users had access to a color wheel to choose more specific colors for these watch faces. 

MacOS

As much as people say that Apple needs to pay closer attention to the Mac, I personally feel that Apple has every configuration of Mac desktops and laptops available to a vast variety of users. Also, MacOS seems to get newer and more impressive software features faster than any platform maintained by Apple. MacOS is feature rich, fast, stable, and reliable. I expect Apple to build on this and to further refine its desktop operating system. I personally don’t have many wishes for MacOS as any changes I want to make to the OS or UI I can change with an app. Any new features Apple decides to bring to the Mac will be quality of life changes that I didn’t know I needed or wanted, and those are my favorite kinds of features.

It’s Time for Apple to Start Acting Like It Owns Beats Audio, and Finally Kill It 

When Apple acquired the enormously popular brand Beats Audio in 2014, it stunned the technology market. This acquisition had analysts wondering what Apple planned to accomplish with Beats now under their ownership. I, being someone who follows Apple very closely, knew Apple was preparing to enter the headphone and audio market. I figured within a year or two they would begin rolling out their own branded audio hardware. As anticipated Apple released the first generation of AirPods in the winter of 2016. AirPods was Apple’s take on truly wireless headphones which were quickly growing in popularity at the time. Apple developed the W1 chip that would be the Bluetooth controller for the AirPods, allowing both earpieces to seamlessly and wirelessly connect to iOS devices with ease. I said to myself, “FINALLY,” Apple’s acquisition of Beats has taught them what they need to know about making a solid pair of headphones and hoot market them with Apple branding. Apple then did something that surprised me. Alongside the new, shiny, and Apple-branded AirPods, Apple also released Beats X headphones. These headphones weren’t “truly” wireless as the earbuds were connected via a cable, but these headphones did feature the new W1 chip that had all the same software and hardware integration with iOS devices that the AirPods had.

At the time it had been two years since Apple had purchased Beats, but no significant new model’s of Beats headphones had been announced. Most models were quietly refreshed, some wired options were given a lightning cable connection, and others were given lightning ports for charging. Marketing for Beats had taken a sharp downturn, while ads and product placements for AirPods seemed to be everywhere.

Fast forward to 2019 and Apple is now ready to refresh its AirPods with a second generation. This time around the AirPods are equipped with an H1 chipset. The H1 is supposed to allow for even faster Bluetooth connection and hands-free Siri activation. I believe that Apple is gradually phasing out the Beats brand and was offering an olive branch with the Beats X that launched aside the first generation of AirPods. Apple however still has more olive branches to provide. With very little press and marketing, Apple quietly announced the Power Beats Pro. Unlike the Beats X, the Power Beats Pro are truly wireless like the AirPods and offers a charging case also like the AirPods. Unlike the AirPods the Power Beat’s charging case doesn’t support wireless charging.

To my surprise, the Power Beats is also, shockingly, more expensive than the new AirPods even with the wireless charging case. AirPods 2nd Generation with the wireless charging case cost $199.00, and the new Power Beats Pro will cost $249.95. What doesn’t make sense is why Apple is selling a pair of headphones that they own, but aren’t “Apple Branded”. These headphones also come at a $50 premium over their own headphones that they are heavily marketing and actually are “Apple Branded”.

Companies will often own or manage several brands that can sometimes offer similar products. Car companies are well known for implementing this strategy as they usually offer cars at various price levels and styles to accommodate the tastes of multiple markets. One could argue that Apple is using this strategy with its Beats acquisition. The majority of the Beats line-up has been mostly unchanged since Apple’s acquisition. It is clear Beats Audio is not a primary focus for Apple. I believe Apple still offers Beats for enthusiasts who still demand the Beats sound signature. The youth and athletic market that Beats had locked in for years is now being turned over to Apple as teenagers, and young adults purchase AirPods. AirPods are trendy and seen as a status symbol to teenagers and young adults, and Beats are viewed more like a relic of the not so distant past.

Apple is just getting started in the audio industry. With the release of AirPods and their HomePod home speaker, it is clear Apple is going all in on their own branded audio hardware. It’s evident that the future of Beats audio is bleak and the brand is existing just to supplement Apple’s hardware offering until it releases their own on-ear and over-ear headphones. Beats Audio has various endorsement deals currently in effect with other all known brands that include Disney and the NBA. Apple is likely waiting for these deals to expire before they finally kill Beats Audio and eventually establish themselves as a premium provider of audio hardware.

Apple’s Paradigm Shift to Services has Begun

 

During Apple’s keynote event today, Apple as expected, announced a series of services. These services include “Apple News +”, “Apple Card”, “Apple Arcade” and “Apple TV +”. Apple is broadening and deepening the scope of their ecosystems. They are attempting this strategy in hopes to entice you with their offerings and then lock you into providing reliable streams of revenue.

Apple News Plus
Apple released its News app 3 years ago at the peak of personalized and curated news feeds. Today they are expanding this vision by offering a premium version of this service called Apple News Plus. Along with the usual web articles that have been offered and continue to be free, Apple has invited prominent News and print media outlets into their service. Outlets like National Geographic, GQ, and Essence magazine will now be able to be read in their entirety and unlimited as long as customers subscribe to this new service. Readers of the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times will now be able to read the paper on all of their Apple devices with the subscription as well. Apple has worked with these publishers to optimize and enhance their content for iPhones and iPads. Animations, transitions, and high resolution “Live Covers” will be used to immerse readers into the content they are consuming. Live Covers, will function like Apple’s Live Photos, but only for magazine Covers. Based on the demonstration that was shown during the keynote its looking like the News app may start looking like newspapers from Harry Potter, only in color. Apple News Plus will be 9.99 a month, but this service is supported by Apple’s family sharing feature. This means up to 6 people including the subscription holder can enjoy accessing Apple News Plus at no additional charge.
Apple Card
In an update to Apple’s “Apple Pay” service, the company is now offering their own branded credit cards. Apple plans to simplify the credit card experience and equip customers with the tools to safely and securely manage their finances. Apple ambitiously has “claimed” to have eliminated all fees associated with this card. This includes the removal of annual fees, late fees, and fees associated with exceeding spending limits. In order to offer a credit card, Apple had to partner with the bank Goldman Sachs and the company Master Card. Apple will offer cash back for purchases made on the card in the amount of 2% daily on purchases made on the card and 3% from purchases made at Apple retailers.

Apple will offer a virtual version of their card that will live on your iPhone with its data protected on the secure enclave partition of Apple’s processors. Its data will be encrypted and only stored on the iPhone. Apple will also offer a physical version of this card. The card will be made of titanium and will only feature a name and the Apple logo on the card. The card number, CVV, and signature won’t be present on the card for increased security. This card is to be used wherever Apple Pay is not supported. Details on where customers can get a physical card haven’t been made available at the time of writing. The Apple Card Service will be made available this Summer.

Apple Arcade
In an update to Apple’s App Store service, the company is now offering a subscription to mobile games that have been developed and curated in direct partnership with Apple. The games in this subscription will only be available through this subscription and only available on Apple devices across iOS, MacOS, and TvOS. Apple only offered a few teasers of the upcoming games offered in their service and announced that pricing for this service would be announced at a later date. The service is expected to launch in the fall of this year. The game service will operate through paid subscription only, which means none of these games will be free to play, feature adds, or offer in-game purchases. The service will, however, support family sharing, which means the entire family will be able to enjoy this gaming subscription across different devices.

Apple TV Plus
Today Apple finally unveiled its Apple TV streaming service. Actors, directors, and composers, filled the audience and graced the stage to give us a peek at the original programming that would be exclusive to Apple’s service. Apple also announced that its TV App would be getting an update to accommodate its streaming service and its new Channels feature. “Channels” is an option for customers to subscribe to individual content providers like HBO, Stars, and Showtime. Apple’s original content would only be available to subscribers of their TV Plus service. As its a paid service it will also be ad-free and arriving this fall.

On a final note, Apple introduced TV Legend Oprah Winfrey to introduce an unnamed project that she and the tech company were collaborating on. The only information we were given is that this program would be something like a book club.

Apple’s services could very well turn the tide for this company which is currently seeing sales slumps and fluctuating stock value. Apple needs to produce content that is engaging and provocative, but they also need to match the quality of its content with the quantity as well. Competition is heating up in the streaming world especially with Disney launching their own streaming service this fall as well.

Apple Continues to Refresh Its Product line. Today its Air Pods 2

On Monday Apple refreshed its budget end iPads, Tuesday Apple gave its iMac line up a spec bump, and now today, on Wednesday, Apple is finally announcing Air Pods 2nd generation.

Air Pods have quickly become one of Apple’s most popular accessories. As lightweight truly wireless headphones, its users truly feel like they are living in the future. Air Pods introduced the W1 chip which was a controller for the Bluetooth chip, which help the headphones seamlessly connect to iOS devices. The hardware and software integration between Air Pods and iOS devices is what sets them apart from other wireless headphone options.

Today Apple plans to continue pushing their hardware forward with the introduction of Air Pods 2nd Generation. The 2nd Generation of Air Pods features an upgraded chipset. The W1 chip has been updated to the H1 chip (Headphone chip). With this new chip, the Air Pods can more reliably connect to iOS devices and now supports hands-free Siri activation.

There is still good news for early adopters of the original Air Pods. While the new Air Pods can ship with a wireless Charging case, the new wireless charging case can be bought separately and used with the original Air Pods.

The new Air Pods were rumored to come in a new matte black color, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Also, the new Air Pods also didn’t receive a significant design change, actually the only thing that changed was the internals to accommodate the H1 chip.

Undoubtedly, Air Pods will continue to be popular and sell millions of units, the mystery is, however, what Apple product will they refresh next? Rumblings around the internet suggest that the iPod touch is next, but only time will tell.