Friday, October 7, 2016

Apple iPhone 7 Plus Mini Review

Apple launched the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in the United States, Canada, Australia (Hi, Jodi!), the United Kingdom and other locations around the world on September 16.

Let's just get a couple of things out of the way right from the get go. First, iPhone 7 Plus has, practically, the exact same body as the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus. The next major redesign is expected to be the 2017 model, which will mark the tenth anniversary of iPhone. Secondly, the 3.5mm headphone jack is gone. Done. Stick a fork in it.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, despite their names, are actually the eleventh generation iPhone models. This includes the original iPhone, released in June 2007, and the iPhone SE, released in March of this year.

iPhone 7 Plus Hardware

Exterior Changes and Enhancements

New for the 2016 model year, iPhone 7 Plus comes in two new finishes - the high gloss Jet Black and, my personal favorite, matte Black. Gone is the Space Grey option. Silver (aka White), Gold, and Rose Gold round out the color options. Besides two new color options, there are some other differences you should be aware of.

As for the rest of the exterior of iPhone 7 Plus, the camera bump frame is now part of the back plate. The plastic antenna lines that ran across the back of the iPhone are gone. The antenna lines that do remain are much harder to see as they almost perfectly blend into the case. There is a real possibility that if you aren't looking for them, you won't see them on the Jet Black or matte black iPhone models.

iPhone 7 Plus has the exact same dimensions and weight of the iPhone 6S Plus. Sadly, while an iPhone 6S Plus case technically "fits" the iPhone 7 Plus, the cutout for the camera is all wrong and you will have to buy a new case, or cases if you like to switch things up regularly. At least we got a bonus last year with the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus cases being interchangeable. Looking ahead to next year, I do not expect the cases to interchangeable either due to the rumored exterior casing changes.

Stereo Speakers and the Lighting to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are now outfitted with stereo speakers. To get stereo sound, Apple kept the original speaker at the bottom right of the device and added a new and improved speaker at the top of the phone. The speaker that you hold near your head when making a phone call is also the other have of the stereo speaker pair. To test out the sound quality of the new iPhone, I used both, my iPhone 7 Plus, my iPhone 6S Plus, and my 5K iMac to play The Del-Vikings' Come Go With Me (Single Version) from their album "20th Century Masters - The Millenium Collection: The Best of The Del Vikings" which was purchased form iTunes.

I started the test by first listening to the song on my 5K iMac with my 20 year old Cambridge Soundworks small desk speakers and sub-woofer. Then, I listend to the first 30 seconds on the iPhone 6S Plus, followed by the same 30 seconds on my iPhone 7 Plus. To my old ears, I personally felt that the iPhone 7 Plus most closely matched the warm, rich sound from iTunes on my iMac. On the iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 7 Plus, the volume was set to 50%. Just for fun, and to use a song that my kids would know, I repeated the same test with Taylor Swift's Blank Space from her "1989" album. I still felt that the iPhone 7 Plus offered a better listening experience than the iPhone 6S. Your opinion of the sound quality and my selection of music will vary.

The elimination of the 3.5mm headphone jack has gotten the Internet in tizzy. For me, it's not a big deal for a few reasons, not least of which, when I listen to music or podcasts on my iPhone I do so with a pair of wireless PowerBeats ear buds. At the office, I have a pair of old Apple ear buds that came with my work issued iPhone 4S. So I have an extra Lightning to 3.5mm adapter at the office. Again, as with the stereo speaker test, the results are subjective, but I found the sound quality of music played back on to the PowerBeats and iPhone 4S era ear buds with the adapter to be the same as that of my iPhone 6S Plus. I did get burned once by not having a 3.5mm jack on my iPhone 7 Plus when I had to drive my wife's car to work. Her car doesn't have Bluetooth and iPhones connect to the in-car stereo via a...yup, you guessed it! A 3.5mm aux headphone jack. (I know. We're living like savages! It is 2016, after all!) So, I listen to FM radio on the way to work and used my adapter on the ride home so I could catch up on my podcast queue.

The Display and the Home Button

During the iPhone 7 launch event that took place on September 7, Apple spent a lot of time talking about the display in the new iPhone. Looking at the same Home screen (the exact same icon arrangement with the exact same wallpaper) I can't see a difference between them. I am sure that there are technical differences that I do not know to look for or am not trained to detect, but in terms of every day usage, I just don't see the difference.

I was expecting the iPhone 7-series phones to have the True Tone feature that debuted earlier this year on the (baby) iPad Pro 9.7". I guess that's a feature that will have to wait until the 2017 iPhone.

3D Touch is the same as it has always been from the iPhone 6S-series. I encourage everyone who has an iPhone 7-series phone to 3D Touch everything to discover new shortcuts. Apple, distressingly, keeps 3D Touch actions well hidden in the UI and you will need to discover them on your own. Show of hands: Who knew the Stocks app has a 3D Touch action?

iPhone 7 Plus also has a new, solid state, 3D Touch solid state physical Home button. The new Home button is fully integrated Touch ID sensor, which isn't mechanical like all of the past Home buttons on older iPhones. Instead, to simulate a button press and the "click" feel, the iPhone 7 Plus Taptic engine vibrates. I know the button isn't moving, but my mind sure think it does. You might need a day or two to get used to it. You can use the new Home Button feedback setting (Settings > General > Home Button) to control how forceful the haptic feedback is. There are three options. I prefer the "2" setting myself.

The Hardware Changes You Cannot See

Mercifully, Apple has finally abandoned the 16GB memory configuration. Hallelujah! The last few years have proven particularly challenging for people like my wife who always get the "cheapest" iPhone and then promptly fill it up photos of the kids and cat memes downloaded from Facebook and Instagram. What space is left after that is filled with a handful of apps. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus provide some relief.

Starting with iPhone 7 models, Apple has doubled the amount of memory for each of the storage tiers. The new storage options are 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. This change, which many have felt was long overdue, I think, will give people like my wife a better customer experience overall. I should note here, that if the iPhone 7 Plus was a car, the Jet Black version would be considered the "special edition" as it is only available in the 128GB and 256GB storage configurations. I recently saw an iPhone 7 at Apple Trumbull. It looked nice, but it was covered in finger prints and I could see at least a half dozen scratches in it's glossy finish on the back. That would drive me insane. I do not regret my matte Black color decision. Not for one second.

iPhone 7 Plus Dual Camera System

A new feature that is only available in the iPhone 7 Plus, and the primary driver for my decision to continue to be a paying member to the "Plus Club", is the new and improved 12MP cameras. Yes, as in two. The iPhone 7 Plus has the standard 1.8 aperture wide-angle 12MP camera that was included in the iPhone 6S Plus. New this year is the inclusion of a 2.8 aperture telephoto camera. Both cameras work in tandem and give you the option to use a 2x optical zoom or a 10x digital zoom. I am not a "camera guy". In my initial tests in direct sunlight or a well lit room, photos taken with the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 6S Plus look equally crisp. A picture of my cats in waiting for breakfast in my kitchen in low light looked much better than I was expecting. (I didn't have my iPhone 6S Plus with me at the time, so I have no comparison photo.) A second photo is took at a wedding this past weekend of my wife and her sisters with very low light was better than I expected, but does get "muddy" when I start to zoom in. Apple is also working on iOS 10.1, which is currently in beta testing, that will add a new digital bokeh photography option. Bokeh photography, in layman's terms, is that cool style where the subject is in sharp focus while the background is blurred out. Personally, this is the camera feature that I have wanted to be able to do for a long time, but never knew what it was called or how to do it. There is no work as to when iOS 10.1 will be released. If I was a betting man, I would guess that iOS 10.1 will be out before the end of the year.

For people who prefer the smaller iPhone, Apple is now shipping optical image stabilization in the 4.7" model. Previously, optical image stabilization was a feature that had been reserved for only the larger 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus. Now all iPhone 7-series owners will get the feature.

Water and Dust Resistance

Lastly, there are three invisible enhancements to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that you can't see, but will be glad are there. Starting with the iPhone 7-series, iPhone is now splash, water, and dust resistant. iPhone 7 has received an IP67 rating under IEC standard 60529 (Apple, Inc., 2016). Your iPhone fell in the pool? Not a problem. Youngster watching video on your iPhone and spills their drink on it? Not a problem. You put your iPhone in a blender and then turned it on? Yeah, sure. You will have a bit problem. iPhone 7 can save your bacon from life's every day problems involving water. It is not impervious. Just keep in mind that "water resistant" dones't mean "water proof". Knowing is half the battle.

iOS 10

iPhone 7 Plus ships with iOS 10 by default. iOS 10 is, in my opinion, a pretty good release. It's fast and stable. Some of the changes will take some getting used to, like the swipe to unlock gesture going way and the new look and feel of widgets, Notification Center and Control Center. I am still not a fan of the recent iterations of the Music app and the Apple Music service.

In day-to-day usage, I don't see any major differences with iOS 10 running on my iPhone 7 Plus and my work issued iPhone 6. Many of the differences I have come across so far are the little things on the iPhone 7 Plus. For example, when in Fantastical, when flipping the wheel to set the date and time for events there is Taptic feedback that you would expect if you were turning a well made dial knob. Similarly, when you zoom in or out on a photo, there is a little bit of feedback when you reach the maximum zoom levels (both in and out). Also, using the pull the refresh gesture in Mail there is a bit of feedback too. These little "finishing touches" are not essential to the overall iPhone and iOS 10 experience, but they do add to the fit and finish of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.


Over all, if you are looking to upgrade to a new iPhone this year, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus offer some excellent features if you are coming from an iPhone 6 or earlier iPhone. The storage upgrades alone are worth it. If you have an iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6S, I am not as confident saying hands down you need an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. With iOS 10, a free upgrade for all iPhone 5 and later model iPhones, the decision needs to be much more personal, in that you need to weight the pros and cons of buying a new iPhone. If you are the tech nerd in your group of friends, you probably will want to upgrade. If you like to take great quality photos with your iPhone, you will probably want to upgrade. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note7, you will absolutely want to upgrade to iPhone 7 Plus - if for no other reasons, iPhone doesn't explode. If you are happy with your current iPhone, I don't think that there is a single "gotta have it" feature of the iPhone 7-series that demands that you go out and get one right now. All-in-all, if you need or want a new iPhone, there is a lot to like about the iPhone 7-series.

iPhone Handsets and Release Dates

iPhone (2G) - June 29, 2007
iPhone 3G - July 11, 2008
iPhone 3GS - June 19, 2009
iPhone 4 - June 24, 2010
iPhone 4S - October 4, 2011
iPhone 5 - September 21, 2012
iPhone 5S - September 20, 2013
iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus - September 19, 2014
iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus - September - September 25, 2015
iPhone SE - March 31, 2016
iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus - September 16, 2016


Apple, Inc. (2016, September 7). iPhone 7 Tech Specs. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from

Friday, September 30, 2016

Apple iPhone 7 Plus Unboxing

Last Thursday, I found and purchased my Apple iPhone 7 Plus.  The road to getting it was a bit bumpy, but that is a story for another time.

What follows are my thoughts on purchasing, unboxing, and setting up my new matte black, iPhone 7 Plus 128GB.

 We all knew that supplies of all models of the iPhone 7 Plus were constrained.  It was almost by accident that I rolled out of bed and found stock at Apple New Haven.  I placed my order, setup my pick up window.  It's time for another road trip for Dad and I to pick up a new iPhone!

Any day I get to wear an Apple t-shirt is a good one in my book!

When I arrived, the New Haven store was busy, but I was whisked in since I had a pick-up reservation.

While we waited, Dad checked out the new Apple Watch Series Two display while I was looking at the new color assortment of iPhone 7 Plus cases.

Jim has my new iPhone 7 Plus brought out from "Backstage" and the fun begins!

When I was ordering, I was torn between the new Jet Black and matte Black colors.  I am very happy with the way that the matte black iPhone 7 Plus looks.  Stunning!

I'm glad my Dad was able to go with me to pick up my new iPhone 7 Plus!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Notes on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Upgrade Process

Update: Friend of the blog Mike C called me out for not mentioning that Bluetooth devices also need to be paired with your new iPhone after performing an iTunes or iCloud backup restore.  That oversight has been corrected below.

Congratulations on getting your new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus!

Now that you have your brand new iPhone it's time to upgrade from your old one.  While the process will vary from person to person, I have come up with a list of six steps to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Step 1: Unpair your Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch is a great tool for notifications, fitness tracking, taking a quick phone call or sending a dictated text message.  To ensure all of your data stays intact while moving over to your new iPhone, unpair it from your current iPhone.  Doing so backs up your Watch data to your iPhone.  To help, Apple has posted a support article called Unpair your Apple Watch and iPhone to help you navigate the process.

Step 2: Backup your current iPhone with iTunes.

When you use the latest version of iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC to create an encrypted local backup, iOS will also backup sensitive data including fitness and activity data and email account passwords.  Using iTunes to create an encrypted local backup of your iPhone is a different process that the nightly iCloud backups you are probably already doing.  To refresh yourself on how to use iTunes to backup an iPhone, look at Apple's How to back up your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch support article; specifically the "Use iTunes" section.

When you run an encrypted backup, you also preserve your Apple Watch data in the process, allowing you to restore your data to Apple Watch later on.

Make sure that you write down your encrypted iTunes backup password!

Step 3: Power off your old iPhone.

At this point, I like to put my old iPhone into airplane mode.  The point is that your old iPhone should not have network access.

Step 4: Power on your new iPhone and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the initial setup.

This step assumes that you are activating your iPhone at home.  If you purchased your iPhone at a retail location and a well-meaning sales associate tried to setup your iPhone you may have a different experience.

Step 5: When prompted, select the option to restore your iPhone data from an iTunes backup.

At this time, select the option to restore from an iTunes backup and connect your iPhone to your Mac or Windows PC.  I like to have iTunes already launched before connecting the iPhone for restoration.  In iTunes, select the backup you performed in Step 2 as the one to be restored to your new iPhone.

Step 6: Sit back and have a refreshing beverage of choice, following any iPhone and/or iTunes prompts to complete the restore.

For me, this is the hardest part about getting a new iPhone - the waiting for all of the data to transfer from my Mac to my new iPhone!  Be patient.  It can take a long time to restore your data.  One the restore is done, take a look around to make sure everything is working normally.

Step 7: Pair your Apple Watch to your new iPhone.

When you start the pairing process, you will be prompted to restore your Apple Watch data from a backup. Select the backup that was created as part of Step 1 to restore all of your health and activity data.

Miscellaneous Odds and Ends

Here are some things to consider doing after you have completed your iPhone upgrade.
  • Change your iPhone device name by going to: Settings > General > About > Name
  • Pair up Bluetooth devices like Beats headphones, wireless speakers, and car hands free systems
  • Verify your loyalty cards are setup.  You may need to re-login to your online member accounts
  • Setup Apple Pay credit and debit cards
  • Sync any iTunes purchased ring tones and alert sound effects
  • Double-check that iCloud is setup the way you like by going to: Settings > iCloud
  • Corporate users will want to validate their Microsoft Exchange server settings

The process of backing up and restoring an iPhone and Apple Watch can seem to take forever, especially when you are excited to start using your new phone.  Taking the time to follow these simple steps will get you up and running as quickly as possible can keeping all of your settings and data intact.

Forwarding Messages To and From an iPad Using Your iPhone

Earlier today I was presented with an interesting question about Messages on iPad and iPhone. I'll paraphrase it as: "How can I sent a text from my Wi-Fi iPad to someone using an Android smartphone?"

I thought the answer involved making sure the recipent's telephone number was used or that the iPad needed to be tethered to an iPhone in hot spot mode. The phone number was strike one and the tethering option was strike two. I was close, but no cigar. Here's the real answer: Text Message Forwarding from your iPhone.

The Text Message Forwarding feature on an iPhone allows you to compose, send, and receive text messages on your iPad.

To setup Text Message Forwarding:

1. Sign into the same iCloud account on your iPhone and iPad.
2. On your iPhone, go to: Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding
3. Slide the toggle switch next to the iPhone you want to use for message forwarding

Enabling Messages Forwarding feature in iOS 10
4. On your iPhone, enter the security code that appears on the iPad screen

Message Forwarding PIN confirmation in iOS 10

That's it! Once the iPhone and iPad are "paired" for message forwarding, you can send and receive text messages on your iPad with all of your "green bubble" friends.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Looking Forward to Apple iPhone 7 Plus

"Just thinking what a difference a week makes."

Those were some of the first words my Dad said to me this morning when I told him that I had finally tracked down an elusive matte black Apple iPhone 7 Plus.  At 5:46 this morning I was able to purchase a Sprint edition iPhone 7 Plus with an in-store pick up reservation. And, as usual, my Dad was right. Last week, after missing out on the launch day shenanigans that has become my small scale WWDC-like event, I was in a pretty rotten mood.

After all, I thought I did everything "right". I marked the iPhone 7 Plus as a favorite in the Apple Store iOS app, I work up at 2:50am on pre-order day (Friday, Sept. 9), and make sure everything was up-to-date for my Apple Pay credit card. But alas, as soon as I was able to get into the store app to place my per-order, the iPhone 7 Plus was already showing a three week backorder.

Fast forward six miserable days later (just ask my wife and kids), and it's a whole new ball game. While I am still disappointed that I missed the launch party, I am still pretty excited that I am finally getting my new iPhone 7 Plus today. I still get to wear and Apple Store t-shirt. I still get to pick up my iPhone in person at an Apple Store. And my Dad will be there with me. Not to shabby for the first full week of iPhone 7 sales.

To my fellow Apple nerds who are still trying to chase down an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, it would seem that supply is starting to loosen up. My recommendation is to use the website to see which Apple retail stores have iPhone 7 inventory. Once you find a store, use the iOS Apple Store app to make your purchase and pick up reservation.

Looking ahead to next year's 2017 10th Anniversary iPhone, I am planning on pulling out all the stops to make sure I don't miss launch day again. I am planning to do the pre-order shipping directly to my home and then arriving at a local Apple Store at Zero Dark 30 (anytime after 3:00am) to get in the walk ins line. Crazy. I know. But I am a Smartphone Fanatic, after all.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Feelings About This Year's iPhone Preorder Process

It isn't often that I can say this, but I am feeling let down by Apple. Before that gets blown out of proportion, let me explain what I am talking about.

I became an iPhone customer back with the iPhone 4S - when the iPhone first came to Sprint.  Up until then, I had been a Palm Pre user and was enjoying WebOS.  Ever since the pre-order period for iPhone 4S, I have gotten up at 2:50am ET to place my preorder.  Getting up at 3am to order a phone seems crazy to most people.  But Apple fans understand.

And so it went, for each iPhone I purchased since then: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6S Plus.  I even did so for the orignal Apple Watch Sport order.

This year, in preparation for ordering iPhone 7 Plus, used the iOS Apple Store app to go in and tag my preferred iPhone and accessories as Favorites (blue heart) so that I could quickly place my order.

Everything that we had been hearing in the media, whether it be from journalists writing for newspapers or bloggers writing on news and fan sies suggested that there would not be a redesign this year.  The big, exterior case changing redesign that we have come to expect every other year would skip a beat in 2016 and would instead be held back until 2017 - the tenth anniversary for iPhone.  With this three year "tick-tock-tock" cadence for the current iPhone 6-series body style, the usual negative Apple headlines started rolling in.

"Apple's New iPhone Isn't a Game Changer, But It Might Be Good Enough" wrote Steven Russolillo on Sept 8.

Geoffrey A. Fowler chose "iPhone 7 First Look: Practical, but Not Jaw-Dropping" for his Sept. 7 headline.

"Apple's New iPhones Arrive, as Glow Fades" is my favorite headline from Robert McMillian's piece on Sept. 5 - a full two days before Apple's Sept. 7 press event to actually introduce the new iPhones.

Also from Sept. 5, Ryan Knutson and Thomas Gryta write "Apple's New iPhones Face Upgrade Challenges".

But coverage like this from the journalists and bloggers is to be expected.  After reading articles like these from The Wall Street Journal, you would think that virtually no one would want to buy such a ho-hum 2016 iPhone.

However, these headlines aren't the reason why I'm let down by Apple.  For that, we must turn to an August 5 AppleInsider piece by Matt Milano covering an investors note from RBC Capital Markets' Amit Daryanani.  In the piece, Daryanani suggests that one-third of all iPhone 7 sales will be that of the more expensive iPhone 7 Plus models.  The major differentiator of the larger iPhones has been its superior camera technology.  The iPhone 7 Plus continues this trend by offering both the standard wide-angle lense and a brand new telephoto lens.  In Milano's coverage of the RBC report, this new camera technology is expected to "be the culprit in limiting availability at launch, with suppliers expected to struggle to keep up with demand at launch" (Milano, 2016).

And this is where my feelings of being let down and disappointment with Apple come in.  Even after marking my favorites in the Apple Store iOS app and waking up at 3am ET to get my pre-order in nice and early, I still wasn't able to get my iPhone of choice on launch day.  I know.  I can't get a new cell phone on a day I want to get it.  #FirstWorldProblems.  Still, it doesn't change how I feel.

Over the years, I have built up this unrealistic expectation that Apple would reward it's most fanatical fans.  Notice that I didn't say their best customers.  I'm talking about fans.  Crazy people.  Like my Dad, Rob T., Mike C., and myself who wake up in the middle of the night to place an order for the newest Apple toy.  Let's also not forget the getting up early and the waiting in line extravaganza that was Apple Store Trumbull's opening weekend.  All of that was just so I could get a free Apple t-shirt.

I came to believe that if I was dedicated enough to wake up in the middle fo the night to order a new iPhone, i would be rewarded with the best new hardware on launch day.  As it stands right now, that won't be the case this year.  For me, the best part about Apple opening a new retail store, or selling a new gadget is the excitement about getting in line and being one of the first people to have the new i-Whatever-It-Is.  Apple long ago stopped attending East Coast trade shows, which themselves are all but gone now.  Without anything else to attend, launch day at the Apple Store provided that sort of excitement.  And bragging rights in nerd circles.

The sale of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus starts on Sept. 16 - a week earlier than that of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus which went on sale on Sept. 25.  I seriously doubt that one week would make any significant difference in iPhone 7 Plus manufacturing, supply constraints, or how many iPhone 7 Plus models would be available for sale around the world on launch day.

I know that I will have a new iPhone 7 Plus on Oct. 10, the day my preorder is supposed to arrive.  Since I have already taken Friday Sept. 16 off from work, I plan to get in the standby line at my local Apple Store at some absurdly early time in the hopes that I can still get an iPhone 7 Plus on launch day.

In the end, it's me, not Apple, that is the reason for my feeling let down.  Apple never guaranteed that I would be able to get the iPhone I wanted on launch day.  I know that, and I accept it.  But it doesn't make it sting any less.  But don't think I won't be stalking and the iOS Apple Store app looking for an opportunity to snap up an iPhone 7 Plus sooner than Oct. 10.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

First Impressions from Apple's Special Event - September 2016

Today was Apple's annual September "Special Event" to show of the new iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, and the all new AirPods.  The event was held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California at 10:00am PT.

The following are my first impressions and thoughts as I watched pre-recorded video stream from the Apple website.

This year's opening video is of Tim Cook joining James Corden for Carpool Karaoke (One Republic - I've Lived, Lynryd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama).  Corden and Cook were joined by later joined by Pharrell Williams.  I've never watched Corden's show, but it looks interesting based on this video short.  I think this speaks a lot about Apple's future: Apple Watch, Apple TV and new, original streaming content, and of course, Project Titan.  Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but we don't see a Mac, iPhone, or iPad in the frame.

Welcome and Updates

Apple Music Update

Carpool Karaoke will be coming to Apple Music early next year.  Did we know that already?  I knew of the partnership, but honestly, where Apple Music is concerned, I am tuned out.

Apple Music now has 17 million paying subscribers.  That's up 2 million since the last update.

Tim mentioned that there have been 70 exclusives for customers to listen to new music on Apple Music.  I wonder what is going to happen to that number over the coming year now that labels, specifically, Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge, is slamming the door shut on exclusives?  I had the distinct impression over the last year that Apple, like every other streaming service, was trying to use exclusives as a way to draw subscribers.

It's been 10 years of the Apple Music Festival. Free steams from Apple devices. I probably should have been watching more.

App Store Update

140 billion app downloads since it's launch in the summer of 2008.

Apple is still the preferred platform for app developers with 2x the payouts over the Android platform.  I don't see this changing in the next 3-5 years.  Android is just a mess in terms of software updates and getting the majority of users on a current release.  Tim will get to brag about this for years to come.

Nintendo is coming to iOS in a BIG way!  Tim beams as he brings Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto on stage for the introduction.  For me, this is a much, much bigger deal that Niantic's Pokemon Go coming to iOS.

Super Mario Run will be an iOS App Store exclusive.  This is a major win for Apple.  Super Mario Run will be yet another side scrolling running game.  Even though it is not a port of Super Mario Bros. from the Nintendo consoles, it looks and feels like a sibling.  I am so glad to hear that this game will be a paid up front game and won't resort to nickel and diming players for coins, time delays, and other scams that other endless runners and "freemium" games resort to.  (I alway felt that this is where Rovio lost it's way with their Angry Birds games.)

Education Update

Apple's education initiatives has always been in their DNA.  I'm living proof of that.  Much like the kids using these Apple //s, when I was in the forth grade, I was completely hooked on the Apple //e and Apple.

Apple is putting it's money where it's mouth is with free hardware for schools (Apple TV in each classroom), teachers (MacBook Pro and iPad), and most importantly, students (iPads).  The big challenge here is to make sure that there are people in these schools that can put all of that hardware and software to good use.

As someone who has a career in IT because of Apple's education initiatives back in the 1980s, I'm glad to see the next generation of technology users and creators being given the same opportunities.

Everyone Can Code initiative teaches kids (and adults) how to program in Apple's new programing language, Swift.  I gave both of my girls iPads that can run iOS 10 and Swift Playgrounds so that they can learn.

iWork Update

iWhat? Oh, iWork.  Does anyone use iWork anymore?  In recent years, I have felt that Apple keeps Pages, Numbers and Keynote around just to have some extra checkmarks on a requirements list somewhere in Apple headquarters.  With inexpensive Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions, there aren't many reasons to not be using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  That said, I do think iWork documents can be make to look much more impactful than their Office counterparts.

Susan Presscott, VP of Worldwide Apps Product Marketing comes out to talk more about Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.  Real-time collaboration is coming to all editions of the iWork apps.  Ok, live edits from the Mac, iPad and iPhone are impressive.  But also throwing in iWork on the web - ok, that's a neat party trick.  I just wish it hadn't taken so long to get here.  Google's Docs, Sheets, and Slides and Microsoft's Office 365 web apps have been able to do this for a while now.

New Products Introduction

Apple Watch Series 2

Apple Watch was launched 18 months ago with a focus on notifications, Apple Pay, and fitness tracking.  Apple is claiming that they are the #2 watch maker by revenue only behind Rolex.  Apple Watch is the #1 fitness tracker.

Jeff Williams, Apple's COO, comes on stage to reintroduce watchOS 3.0 and it's key features, including Messages, Breath, and SOS.  If you are into Pokemon Go, you may be excited that the game is coming to Apple Watch.  After watching the demo, I'm still disinclined to download and play the game.

Apple Watch Series 2 has been introduced.  In Watch Series 2, you can wear Watch in the water - swimming, surfing, or kayaking - up to a depth of 50 meters (164.04 feet).  The speaker has been redesigned to eject water out of the speaker canal.  Like walks and run, there will now be two new work outs for indoor pool swims and open water swims.

Apple's S2 SiP is now has a dual core CPU and a twice as fast GPU which, along with watchOS 3.0 this will really help speed up apps.  There is also a new, brighter display (1000 nits) and a standalone GPS.  To cool thing about Watch Series 2 with it's built-in GPS is that the GPS will connect very quickly with satellites (we'll see) and can also show you map data with color coded speed information in the Activity app on your iPhone.  I like to walk and I think these new features will be enough to push me over the line to get a new Watch.

Apple Watch Series 2 will come in the same aluminum and stainless steel options as before and will include a new ceramic version.  Over all, my Apple Watch Sport edition has held up better than I thought it would, but it does have a few hairline scratches on the display and the body has two small nicks.  Maybe the ceramic, which is supposed to be 4x stronger than the stainless steel edition is for me.  If the price is right.

Remember the Nike+ FuelBand?  No? I don't blame you.  Myself and three other people bought them before Apple Watch existed.  Now, as part of Series 2, you can get Apple Watch Nike+ Edition.  This is the logical conclusion for the FuelBand product, which I liked a lot, actually.  Nike+ will be available in four colors.  While I'm crazy about the bands, at least it is good to know you can swap them after your run.

The new Watch line up will include a "remixed" original Apple Watch, now called Apple Watch Series 1, with the same S2 processor as Series 2.  The price will be $269 for Series 1 and start at $369 for Series 2.  Both Series 1 and 2 Apple Watch models will become available for pre-order on September 9 (this Friday) and watchOS 3.0 will arrive on Tuesday, September 13.  Both Series 1 and 2 will go on sale on September 16, and the Nike+ edition will follow in "Late October".

While I like the idea of Watch Series 2, at $369, I don't think that I am going to jump on the launch day band wagon.  I like my Apple Watch, and I have worn it every day since I got it (except for a week in December when I forgot it at home while away on a business trip), I don't feel that I get $369 worth of value out of it.  Like my iPad Air, I think my Apple Watch Sport edition is good enough for now.

Since there was no mention of the body size changing, I am left wondering whether or not the new Series 1, 2, and Nike+ editions will use the same quick swap lugs as the original Apple Watch Sport and Stainless Steel editions.  I would assume so.  And I think that leaves the door open to me getting a Series 2 Watch down the road if I can still use my existing set of six bands.

Apple iPhone 7 and iOS 10

Tim Cook quickly re-introduces everyone to iOS 10, highlighting Home Kit and updates to Messages.

Tim introduces the new iPhone 7 with a Johnny Ive video.  We got a Johnny Ive narrated video!  Phil Schiller comes out on stage to talk about the new iPhone 7.

Jet Black is the new high gloss color.  Black now replaces Space Grey.  Silver, Gold, and Roes Gold (don't call it 'pink') round out the color options.  Navy Blue? Nah. Sorry Rumor Mill.  I've always been a "black" iPhone guy and I don't think that will change this time around.  Jet Black looks great in photos, but I think the "Just Black" version is in my future...maybe.

(By the way, is anyone else bothered by the fact that in the middle of the iPhone 7 introduction, the MacBook's spacebar and right Command key are not centered on the Force Touch track pad?  I can't un-see this now. Sorry.)

The new "Force Touch" Home button seems cool.  I won't have to worry about getting a mushy Home button like I did on my iPhone 4s.  I will have to leave my final judgement until I get my hands on iPhone 7 before I can make any definitive rulings on this one.

I am excited that iPhone 7 is now water and dust resistant.  Apple has been seen as "losing" against a handful of Android phones on this feature for a while now.  I don't often worry about water and dust, but I am happy to know that those protections are now part of the enclosure.  Falling in the pool, or the toilet (Come on!  You were all thinking it too!) won't be a problem any more.

The camera in iPhone has long been the go to camera over point in shoots for years now.  Optical image stabilization as a standard feature in iPhone 7 is a great move by Apple.  Even the flash got an upgrade that throws 50% more light.  I will want to see how much better low light photos are when taken with an iPhone 7 Plus over my current iPhone 6s Plus.  The new Flicker sensor sounds like a fantastic upgrade too.  And I'm sure that the kids are going to love the new 7MP FaceTime HD front facing camera for all of those ridiculous selfie and SnapChat photos.

Did someone just say "two cameras", "wide angle" and "telephoto"?!  Sign me up for the iPhone 7Plus!

But, wait!  Schiller has more! Shallow depth of field is coming to iPhone!  This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but didn't know what the feature was called or how it was done.  Sweet!  All I will need to do now is to select the new "Portrait" setting in the iOS Camera app...coming later this year in a software update for the iPhone 7 Plus.

The Retina Display gets some nice upgrades too, but no True Tone from the iPad Pro 9.7".  Bummer.

After using the iPad Pro 12.9" for eight months now, and watching TV shows on it, I am looking forward to having stereo speakers on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Apple we go! Begin Internet melt down!  There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on that iPhone!  Oh, wait!  I already own a pair of PowerBeats wireless Bluetooth ear buds.

900 million Lightning devices in use today.  JBL Lightning ear buds are held up as an example of Lightning ear buds that are available today.  And, Apple will put a pair of Lightning EarPods in the box with iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.  Ok, so far, so good.  AND...Apple is putting a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in the box with iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.  Nothing extra to buy.  Existing accessories will still work.  Internet crisis averted.  Case closed.

Apple has three reasons for taking away from the 3.5mm jack.  1. Lightning is a digital audio connection.  2. 3.5mm jack is over 100 years old and is taking up space that is needed for new technologies.  It's time to be "courageous" and move on.  3. Wireless is the future of devices.  I'm ok with all of those reasons.  Oh, yeah, and AirPods.  As in wireless.

AirPods are the wireless "vision" of what ear buds are supposed to be and are powered by a new SiP called the W1.  The AirPods are introduced by a second Johnny Ive narrated video.  I'm pretty excited about the automatic pairing feature of AirPods to connect with all of my Apple devices.

Bluetooth pairing has aways been messy and so has been moving my PowerBeats between my iPad Air and iPhone 6s Plus; so much so that I don't ever do it.  Now, that problem is solved.  Boom!  One step setup with your iPhone.  One.  Step.  One step.  And with the magic of iCloud, once AirPods are paired with your iPhone, they can seamlessly connect to Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac.  Sweet!  Tangled up ear bud cables just became a thing of the past.

The W1 chip is also coming to the Beats Solo3, PowerBeats3 and the new BeatsX.  I think I'll put off buying new Beats Solo headphones and try the AirPods first.  They will go on sale in "Late October" for $159.

The new iPhones are going to be powered by the new Apple A10 Fusion SOC chip.  This thing is packing 4 processing cores.  Two super high speed and two "1/5 performance cores" that are going to extend battery life by optimizing on the fly which set of CPU cores to put processes on.  The same trick works for the GPU too.  It's going to be a while for Samsung to try and copy that.  All of this adds up to an extra 2 hours of battery life on the iPhone 7 and an extra hour of battery life on the iPhone 7 Plus as compared to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.  Not too bad.  I'm assuming those numbers include running on low power mode once the iPhone drops below 20%.  That's great.  On light use days, I'm already squeaking by on two days of use between charges.

Shocker!!  The 16GB iPhone is GONE!  The new entry level iPhone starts at 32GB, the 64GB gets replaced by the 128GB, and the 128GB is replaced by a new 256GB option.  Wow!  I was not expecting this at all.  I go for the middle Plus model, so that means a very nice, very roomy bump from 64GB to 128GB. The iPhone 7 will start at $649 and the new iPhone 7 Plus will start at $749.  Also, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are getting bumped to 32GB and 128GB models.  Thanks, Apple!

Pre-orders go live for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this Friday, September 9.  And, if you are super excited for the new iPhone, we will only have to wait one week to get them on September 16!  (And yes, if I can get in line crazy early to get my at 8am, you already know I'm going to do that.)

iOS 10 arrives on Tuesday, September 13, as expected, along side watchOS 3.  Presumably, tvOS will go live on September 13 as well.

Musical Guest

This year's musical guest is Sia who performed The Greatest.  I'm feeling old because I have no idea who Sia is - and I didn't really like the song.  Don't get me wrong.  It wasn't as bad as the socially awkward U2 performance that gave us the Songs of Innocence train wreck.  But let's face it, that's a low bar to get over.

Wrap Up

Lots of new technology is this year's iPhone line up and I'm pretty excited for it.  Nothing out there running Google's Android operating system can touch iOS 10 and iPhone 7.  Clearly NOT the exploding Samsung Galaxy 7 Note.

So, to recap, I am getting and iPhone 7 Plus 128GB with iOS 10 and the AirPods.  The new Beats Solo3 and Apple Watch Sport Series 2 are on the wait and see list.

In closing, I would like to quote James Corden from the beginning of the keynote as I think it is most appropriate for a fan boy like myself:

"This is it, bitches!  Get in line!"