Apple announced today that its absent-minded engineers somehow forgot to put a standard 35-millimeter headphone jack on its new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus electronic telephones. The omission can only be characterized as a colossal boner, unless you are an Apple executive, in which case it can only be characterized as “courage.” That’s how marketing honcho Phil Schiller put it—he said it more than once, without laughing—during a presentation for the media in San Francisco today.
The specific nature of Apple’s courage, according to Schiller, is to create the streamlined wireless audio system that other corporations were too cowardly to invent. The new tech is embodied by the new $160 AirPods—sold separately—which are wireless versions of Apple’s recognizable white earbuds. After connecting the AirPods with a one-step pairing process, users can enjoy five hours of listening time on a single charge, and then you can charge the earphones in their little charger, which can hold 24 hours of charge. Once you use that up, though, you need to charge the charger, but get this: You can charge the charger and charge the earphones at the same time. We are so blessed!
Thus a company that prides itself on simplicity has transformed the process of plugging in your headphones—an activity so simple that it requires no thought—into yet another game of “Oh shit, did I remember to plug those in last night?”. Because heaven forfend a single aspect of our modern life could be free from battery life concerns, or firmware updates, or finicky connection protocols. The analog headphone jack has been around for “more than a hundred years,” Schiller noted, which in most contexts would be a testament to enduring design, but in the context of a Silicon Valley keynote means it is total garbage that we should replace with a $160 accessory.
New iPhones will still come with wired headphones that connect to the digital Lightning port. And because Apple is courageously terrified of consumer backlash, the iPhone 7 line will include a free Lightning-to-analog adapter dongle that you will lose within a week. “Some of you have equipment with the old connector,” Schiller observed, his contempt palpable.
Apple touted the phones’ new cameras, which are better than the old cameras. With optical image stabilization across both iPhone 7 models and a dual-lens configuration that enables optical zoom on the larger iPhone 7 Plus, the new phones can achieve a look that emulates the appearance of high-end digital SLR cameras. Yet “we are not saying to throw out your DSLRs,” Schiller said, generously.
Apple has also invented some more computer chips, as is its wont, to make this year’s phones faster. The iPhone 7 line was purported to excel in terms of graphics performance: Viewers witnessed the phones’ rendering prowess in an onstage demo of some wizards-and-lightning-bolts game that a developer described as “visceral.” It looked like every other wizards-and-lightning-bolts game you have ever seen.
Both iPhone 7 models will have the courage to resist dust and water. The water safeguards adhere to the “IP67 protection standard,” which you know is good on account of it has letters and numbers in it. And the home button is no longer really a clickable button, but—like the trackpads on Apple’s MacBook line—a solid-state sensor that generates the feel of a click through vibration feedback when you push on it. (This technique is actually pretty effective on the MacBooks.)
The phones come in five finishes, including a high-gloss treatment known as “Jet Black” (seen at the top of this article). After years of shortchanging its customers with inadequate storage space in its base models, Apple has doubled the storage capacity on all pricing tiers for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (as well as iPhone 6s line, which now occupies the mid-range of Apple’s phone offerings). The iPhone 7 starts at $650 for a 32-gigabyte model; the 7 Plus starts at $770 for 32 gigs. Pre-orders begin Sept. 9, with deliveries ensuing the next week.
Prior to its iPhone presentation, Apple announced Apple Watch Series 2, which improves the wearable computer’s water resistance through re-engineered seals and a neat trick where the speaker blasts water out of its cavity, like some sort of vomiting child on your wrist. The second generation also includes a faster chip, integrated GPS, and a brighter display that exudes 1,000 nits of light. In case you were wondering, “That’s a lot of nits,” according to Apple COO Jeff Williams, who introduced the new models.
The exorbitant gold “Apple Watch Edition” versions have been quietly dropped for Series 2 (although Apple will still market luxury models created in a partnership with Hermes). In addition to the familiar gray aluminum, black aluminum, and stainless steel cases, Watch Series 2 will be available with a glossy white ceramic case that Williams claimed is “four time harder than stainless steel.” Suck on that, stainless steel. Try being a little more courageous next time.
Trevor Edwards, a Nike brand executive, demonstrated a “Nike+” model of the Watch that encourages you to exercise by bombarding you with Nike marketing messages. For instance, every Sunday, the Nike+ Apple Watch will tell you to run by proclaiming that it’s “Just Do It Sunday.” This somehow makes running “easier,” according to Edwards. And here you thought running sucked because it’s boring and painful! Nope, it’s because your wristwatch didn’t shout enough slogans at you. The experts at Nike have solved that problem.
John Hanke, the CEO of Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs, showed off an upcoming Pokémon Go Apple Watch app. Nobody seemed to care. The crowd was considerably more animated for the surprise revelation of an imminent Mario game for iPhone, Super Mario Run, which A.V. Club games editor Matt Gerardi covered earlier.
Apple Watch Series 2 is priced at $370 and up; the slightly revised Series 1 line starts at $270, which gives you the original Watch specs with a dual-core processor upgrade (but no integrated GPS).