Innovation

Apple's Sept 7 event: Top 10 things the pros need to know

The iPhone 7, new Apple Watch, wireless headphones, and an iWork update could make life better for professionals. Here's how, and the other important details from Apple's September 7 event.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, and more on September 7, 2016.

Image: James Martin/CNET

Apple's annual September product event was loaded with announcements, as executives unveiled a dual camera, lightning jack headphones, and a waterproof Apple Watch—and even some Carpool Karaoke.

Here are the top 10 takeaways for tech and business professionals.

SEE: Apple iPhone 7: The smart person's guide

1. All new camera for the iPhone 7

Perhaps the most important update is the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus cameras, which promise to make the world's most widely used camera better. Both the 7 and 7 Plus feature optical image stabilizer, a wider f/1.8 aperture lens that lets 50% more light in, a new 12-megapixel sensor that is 60% faster, and four LED flash that puts out 50% more light and reaches 50% further than the iPhone 6s. Since a lot of business professionals already use the iPhone to take pictures for work, improvements to quality will be a positive for business use.

The iPhone 7 camera does 100 billion operations in 25 milliseconds, said Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, speaking at today's Apple event. This is thanks to a new ISP chip that automatically uses machine learning to look for objects and people, sets exposure, focus, color, and captures cinema standard wide color. It can also take multiple photos and fuse them together into the perfect image.

"This truly is a supercomputer for taking pictures," Schiller said.

On the iPhone 7 Plus, you get all this, along with a second, 12 megapixel camera. One lens acts as a wide angle and the second one as a telephoto lens. Using both lenses together creates a zoom feature that can move in up to 10x, while maintaining sharp clarity in the photo. You can also use the double camera setup for portrait photography: The cameras' machine learning capabilities create a depth map from the image, that keeps the person in front in sharper focus, and blurs the background. It emulates a DSLR's narrow depth of field to create a sharp foreground object with a blurred background.

"It's a huge breakthrough in what can be done with smartphone photography," Schiller said. Plus, the depth effect is generated in real-time as you're looking at your screen, which even high end DSLR cameras cannot do at this point, he added.

2. Lightning audio replaces headphone jack

The rumors were true: Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. Since many business travelers spend lots of time with their headphones on in airplanes and on walks and runs, these changes matter.

Instead of the traditional 3.5mm audio jack, Apple is asking users to connect headphones via its Lightning connector, in order to reduce ports and improve audio quality. But, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will include an adaptor for traditional headphones. It also opens the door for wireless audio.

3. Wireless headphones

Apple announced its rumored wireless headphones, Apple AirPods. The headphones don't use bluetooth but use Apple's first wireless chip, the W1, to deliver what Apple claims is high-efficiency playback and a consistent, reliable connection. Infrared sensors detect when each bud is placed in your ear, and you can access Siri with a double tap. The AirPods can quickly and automatically pair with an iPhone when it gets nearby. They can run five hours on a single charge, and a charging case delivers 24 hours of battery life. You can also make phone calls with them.

However, it remains to be seen if AirPods will work only with the new iPhones, or with other audio devices. The Beats line will also release three new wireless headphone sets using the W1 chip.

4. Apple Watch Series 2

In one year, the Apple Watch became the #2 watch brand in the world, behind Rolex. It is also world's the top-selling smartwatch, CEO Tim Cook announced. Most of the people we see in the wild still wearing Apple Watches are business professionals who are also interested in health and fitness.

The company unveiled the Apple Watch Series 2, which includes a dual core processor that is up to 50% faster than that for Series 1, and a display that is twice as bright. It also runs on watchOS 3, which includes several new health and fitness features, and a new app called Breathe reminds users to take a moment to do a deep breathing exercise and enhance mindfulness. WatchOS 3 also lets switch watch faces just by swiping, offers easier messaging that allows you to double tap to send a quick replies, and changes the dock button so that you can use it to access your favorite apps. A quick-updating, built-in GPS now offers directions, and creates a color-coded route map showing a runner's varying speeds.

The Apple Watch Series 2 comes in a variety of styles, including aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic casing options.

5. Waterproof Apple Watch and iPhone 7

While the Series 1 Apple Watch was splashproof, Series 2 is swimproof, and water resistant up to 50 meters deep. New seals and adhesives closed off all entry points except one: The speaker, which needs air to produce sound. But even that was built to eject water after a swim.

The iPhone 7 is also now waterproof and dustproof.

6. Customizable iPhone home button

The iPhone 7 home button was redesigned to be more responsive, reliable, and customizable for everyday use with Siri, Touch ID, Apple Pay, and general multitasking. The button is now a solid piece that's force sensitive, enabled by a new taptic engine that supports different, distinct vibration patterns for different notifications. Further, the home button can be programmed by third-party apps to create new feelings and experiences.

7. New iPhone retina display

The iPhone 7's retina HD display will be 25% brighter than the 6S, with a wide color gamut and 3D touch capabilities. Ian Spalter, head of design at Instagram, took the stage to announce a new Instagram update coming in October that will adapt all photo filters to take advantage of the iPhone 7's new enhanced color spectrum.

8. iWork updates

iWork productivity tools popular among businesses will now allow multiple users to collaborate in real-time. Much like Google Docs, colleagues can now edit the same file in Pages, Numbers, and Keynotes live. You can work on these files and add in images, graphics, text, animations, all in real time from Macs, iPads, iPhones, or the web.

9. Apple's new Everyone Can Code program

Apple's new Everyone Can Code program is a cornerstone of the White House ConnectEd initiative. It involves a new app that teaches Apple's Swift programming language. More than 100 schools and districts worldwide are teaching with Swift Playgrounds this fall.

10. When you can order the new stuff and how much it costs

The iPhone 7 starts at $649, and comes in 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB capacities. The iPhone 7 plus starts at $769, with the same storage capacities as the iPhone 7. Pre-orders begin Friday September 9, and the devices are available to buy in more than 25 countries from September 16.

Apple Watch Series 2 is priced at $369. The Apple Watch Nike+ is also $369. Apple Watch Series 1 with the enhanced dual core processor now starts at $269. Both the new Series 1 and Series 2 watches are available for preorder on September 9. Both watches will go on sale the following week.

The AirPods will sell for $159, shipping in late October.

iOS 10 and Watch OS3 will both be available to download on existing Apple devices on September 13.

Also see

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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