Apple discontinues HomePod to focus on HomePod mini

I meant to post about this before now, but last Friday, TechCrunch reported that Apple was discontinuing the larger HomePod in favor of focusing on the HomePod mini.

The original HomePod is available “while supplies last”, however as of this writing you can still get an original HomePod in white from Apple, and the space gray model is sold out. You still might be able to get one from a third-party retailer.

I cannot say that I am surprised by this move. There has not been any hardware update to the HomePod since its introduction in 2017 and its release in February of 2018. After it was released, I wrote a couple of different reviews about the HomePod.

The original HomePod produces great sound, and I am somewhat sad that they are not doing any updates to the product because the HomePod produces much better sound than the HomePod mini. At the same time, I get needing to focus on one HomePod product and the HomePod mini being the focus makes sense. Given how many people are price conscious, you can get three HomePod minis for the price of one HomePod, and therefore creating a stereo pair of HomePod minis is still cheaper, even with AppleCare+ and tax included.

If Apple is going to focus on the HomePod mini, I hope they plan on releasing updates on a regular basis, otherwise I feel as though the HomePod mini will go the way of the HomePod and there will be no Siri-enabled HomePods available.

The original HomePod will continue to receive updates, but the real question is for how long. I suspect that it may only be a a few years of support left for the original HomePod, in terms of software updates, but I could be wrong.

Source: TechCrunch

HomePod mini: A Review

Two Space Gray HomePod minis on a shelf.

At their 2017 World Wide Developer Conference, Apple announced a whole new product line. It would be a smart speaker that would not only be your smart assistant but would also be an AirPlay speaker. Even though it was announced in June of 2017, it would be seven and a half months, January 26th of 2018 to be exact, before you would be able to pre-order one. They were released on February 9th, and sold out before they went on sale.

One aspect to the original HomePod that a lot of people questioned was the price. It cost $349 when it was released. Apple is known as having a premium product, and this price was definitely a premium.

It was a mere 14 months after it became available, but Apple reduced the price from $349 to $299, while this made it more affordable, but it was still a bit too much for many to be willing to purchase one. When it was released, I did write up about my thoughts on the HomePod. You can read both part 1 and part 2 of my HomePod review for my thoughts on the product.

Not long after the HomePod was released many wondered if, or when, another HomePod would be released. In particular, they were wondering if Apple would release a smaller HomePod. It would take two and a half years, but Apple finally did release a smaller HomePod, they called it the HomePod mini. Apple announced the HomePod mini at their “Hi, Speed” event on October 13th, 2020.

At the time of its announcement, Apple also announced when it would be available for pre-order. Pre-orders for the HomePod mini went live on November 6th, with the devices beginning to arrive during the week of November 17th. I ordered two HomePod minis.

This review will cover some aspects that are similar to my original HomePod review. These topics include the size, how it sounds, and Siri. There will also be an area covered, which I was not able to cover last time, and that is using the HomePod minis as a stereo pair. Before all of that though, let us start with the internals.

Internals

Both the original HomePod and HomePod mini are powered by Apple’s system on a chip. The original HomePod has an A8 system on a chip. The A8 was introduced in 2014 with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. This processor is more than enough to power the original HomePod.

Th HomePod mini also has an Apple system on a chip within it, but it not the A8. Instead it is the same one that is within the Series 5 Apple Watch, which has an S5 within it. The S5 is a more powerful and yet more power-efficient processor than the A8.

HomePod mini internals.

Much like the original HomePod, the HomePod mini has a built-in power cord. The end of the power cord is not the same as the original HomePod. Instead, the end is a USB-C plug. Included with the HomePod is Apple’s 20-watt power brick. The HomePod mini needs the 20-watt power brick. Using anything less will not work. I tried plugging in a HomePod mini into the USB-C port on my 2017 iMac and all I got was an orange light on the top of the HomePod mini.

I think the reason for this arrangement is so Apple can produce the same HomePod mini and the only difference needed to ship it anywhere is the USB-C power brick, which Apple already produces for usage with other products.

Size

When I received my HomePod minis, my first thought was that they were much smaller than I thought they would have been. They are definitely a lot smaller than the original HomePod.

HomePod mini in its box.

The size is not only noticeable in the physical size of the HomePod mini, but also in the box. In fact, the HomePod mini is 3.3-inches high by 3.9-inches wide. If you compare this to the original HomePod, which is 6.8 inches high and 5.5 inches wide, the HomePod minis are absolutely diminutive. Here are a few comparisons.

Original HomePod box next to the HomePod mini box.
Original HomePod box next to the HomePod mini box, top view.

Even though they are of a small size, they are not are not small on sound, which we will cover in a bit. First though, let us look at the setup of the HomePod mini.

Setup

When you first power on a HomePod mini and if your iOS device is in range, you will get a setup prompt, like the one below.

Initial screen when setting up the HomePod mini.

The next steps are to select which room the HomePod mini is in, from the ones available in your Home app. This is followed by whether or not to allow “Personalized Requests”, as is shown in the screenshot below.

Personalized Requests screen for HomePod mini setup.

Here you can either “Use Personal Requests” or “Don’t Use Personal Requests”. If you opt to use personalized requests, you will then see another screen. This is the “Siri for Everyone” screen, which indicates that you Siri will be able to personalize requests for everyone in the home.

The next screen is the “Transfer Accounts and Settings” screen. This will use the Apple ID that is logged on your iOS device and use that for the HomePod mini. Once you tap on “Transfer Settings”, the HomePod mini will continue setting up. It will look like the screen below.

HomePod mini "setting up" screen.

After you have setup an individual HomePod mini, if you happen to setup a second one, as a stereo pair, you will see something a bit different during the setup of the second HomePod mini.

Setting up a Stereo Pair

If you have a second HomePod mini, and you begin setting it up, you will get a different prompt after the initial setup screen. This screen asks if you want to setup the two HomePod minis as a stereo pair. The screen will look like the one below.

First step of setting up a second HomePod mini.

You will then be asked which room, as the second step. The third step will now let you select which side of the room the second HomePod mini is on. The screen will look like the one below.

Selection of second HomePod mini's place in the room. The options are left or right.

Once you select left or right, you will be able to tap continue on the “Siri for Everyone” screen and then you will transfer the settings again to the second HomePod mini. At this point the HomePod mini stereo pair will be setup and you will see a screen like the one below.

HomePod mini

The final screen is the one where the HomePod mini stereo pair completion screen.

Now that we hav the HomePod minis setup, let us look at how they sound.

Sound

When you look at the HomePod mini, you might think that it would have a tinny sound to it, but it does not. While it does not have a much bass as the larger HomePod, it does not, but it does not sound bad at all.

I use the HomePod minis in a stereo pair, we will cover that in a bit, almost exclusively. For the room that they are in, the two smaller HomePod minis as a stereo pair has worked quite well, most of the time anyway.

There have been instances when I am watching something on the Apple TV and the sound will seem to cut out on one of the HomePod minis. It usually only lasts a few seconds, but has been as long as 30 seconds, and then it gets corrected. It has happened over multiple items that I do not think it is a source issue, but I cannot rule it out.

One thing that I have noticed is that using the HomePod minis in a stereo pair, from the Apple TV, the volume has to be set higher than was needed on the original HomePod, in order to get the same volume out of the HomePod minis. The volume does not need to be significantly higher than the original HomePod, but it is definitely higher.

While I use the HomePod minis in a stereo pair most of the time, I have used just one of the HomePod minis on its own. A single HomePod mini on its own sounds decent when listening to music. Again, a single HomePod on its own will not be able to fill up a room, but if you are using one to listen to music while working, it will work quit well.

I do not use the HomePod to listen to podcasts or audiobooks, just music or as an output for the Apple TV, so I do not have any experience on that front. However, I do have experience using two of them as a stereo pair.

Stereo Pair

One of the features of both the original HomePod and the HomePod mini is the ability to use two of them as a stereo pair. However, you cannot mix and match HomePod models. For instance, you cannot have an original HomePod and make a stereo pair with a HomePod mini. This is just not possible.

You can create a stereo pair for two HomePods or two HomePod minis. In fact, if you have one HomePod mini configured in a room and add another, of the same type, the Home app will ask if you want to create a stereo pair automatically.

As you might expect, using a pair of HomePods in a stereo pair. I would have never done this with the original HomePod. Mostly, because I could never justify purchasing a second HomePod for $300 after paying $350 for the first HomePod.

Siri

The HomePod and HomePod minis are designed to be your virtual assistant. Siri works similarly on the HomePod mini as other Apple devices. The HomePod mini can be used as a HomeKit Hub, so you can use it to control all of your HomeKit-enabled devices.

I have not had any issues with Siri, although I do not use Siri all that often. The only issues that I have had are with its inability to turn off a specific light. However, the Home app has issues contacting that particular light every so often, so I do not think it is an issue with the HomePod itself, instead an issue with the light bulb.

Other Items

There are a couple of other items that need to be covered. These are updates, switching positions, and AirPlay. Let us begin with Updates.

Updates

After I did my initial setup of the HomePods, I knew that there was an update available, to HomePod software 14.2. As is the case with the original HomePod, this is done through the Home app. If there is an update, the Home app should inform you. There may be instances when it does not, so you can go and check for an update in the Home app.

HomePod Mini update to Version 14.2

Switching Positions

When you have a set of HomePod minis configured, you may end up moving them while re-arranging them. If you need to identify which HomePod is which, you can by performing the following steps:

  1. Open the Home App.
  2. Locate the HomePod mini stereo pair.
  3. Tap and hold on the HomePod mini stereo pair to bring up the now playing information.
  4. Scroll up to bring up the settings.
HomePod mini Settings
  1. In the first grouping, tap on “Audio Settings”. This will bring up the “Audio Settings” screen.
  2. Tap on one of the HomePod minis to identify it.
  3. If needed, you can tap on the “Swap” button, in the middle of the screen to swap the HomePod minis.
Audio Setting screen for a stereo pair of HomePod minis.

The ability to swap the HomePod minis with the tap of a button can be quite convenient if you need to swap them. Similarly, if you need to identify a HomePod, there is the easy way to identify them.

AirPlay

One thing that you are able to do is just the HomePod mini as an AirPlay destination. If you are using an Apple TV 4K, you can use a HomePod, or a HomePod mini, as the default output for the Apple TV. This is a nice addition that would also be good to have in the Apple TV HD.

Even though you may not be able to set a default audio output on the Apple TV HD, you can still AirPlay from one, as you have been able to in the past. Furthermore, you are able to AirPlay to multiple items simultaneously. While you cannot add a regular HomePod as a stereo pair with a HomePod mini, you are able to AirPlay to both a HomePod mini stereo pair, you can actually use an Apple TV to airplay to both simultaneously. While this is not a true stereo pair, it can be used as pseudo-stereo pair.

Closing Thoughts

Even though they have only been available for approximately two weeks, it is easy to see that the HomePod minis are already super popular. As of this writing the HomePod minis from Apple have a 3 to 4 week shipping range from Apple.

The HomePod mini does not have nearly as much bass as the larger HomePod, but that is to be expected. Even though it is much smaller than the original HomePod, it still has pretty good sound.

If you have multiple HomePod minis you are able to pair them together in a stereo pair. Doing so will provide you with even better sound than a single HomePod mini. This can be beneficial in a larger room. While you can pair multiple HomePod minis together, you cannot put a larger HomePod and a HomePod mini together in a stereo pair.

If you are looking to get a speaker with a virtual assistant in it, you cannot go wrong with the HomePod mini. The $99 price point makes it being 1/3 the cost of the original HomePod, means that you can put them in more rooms throughout your home. With multiple HomePods you can use the new Intercom feature included in the HomePod operating system 14.2.

When I first ordered the HomePod minis, I only ordered two. At the time I thought that would be enough. However, in reality, I should have ordered a third one in order to use while working. This is because my work area is separate from where I use the HomePods as a stereo pair.

If you have been looking to get a HomePod, but have been deterred by the price, I recommend getting the HomePod mini. The price of $99 while not an impulse buy, it more palatable than the original HomePod and although it does not have the same bass and sound as the original HomePod, it is still quite good. Overall, the HomePod mini is well worth the $99 investment, and if you can, get more than one, because using them as a stereo pair is even better than a standalone HomePod mini.

Additional HomePod Availability

Apple has announced that the HomePod will go on sale in Greater China, including Hong Kong, this Friday, January 18th, 2019.

The HomePod supports AirPlay 2, which allows applications to send music to the HomePod. There are many apps available that can send their audio to the HomePod. Specifically in Greater China there are some apps available including:

  • QQ Music
  • DeDao
  • iHuman Story
  • Dragonfly FM and Penguin FM in mainland China
  • Spotify
  • KKBOX
  • JOOX
  • Podcasts (in Hong Kong)

These are just some of the apps available for use with the HomePod. Besides these audio apps, there are also China specific programs available. One is called the “New Artist of the Week”

The New Artist of the Week”. This program provides new talent with a prominent platform across greater China for their work to be discovered. Since launching in 2015, Apple Music has featured the debut releases of popular new artists coming from all over Asia, with music spanning a wide variety of genres and languages. New artists from mainland China include Corsak, Chace, Lucie Cheung, Gong, Dean Ting and Lu Xianghui. Popular playlists include The A-List International Pop, Today’s Hits, Best of the Week, The A-List Mandopop and Mandopop Replay, containing recent Mandopop hits from the past five years.

The HomePod will be available for HK$2799 or RMB 2799 and is available in both white and space gray. AppleCare+ is available for the HomePod for HK$349 or RMB 329.

HomePod is currently available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Spain. HomePod is compatible with iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation).

Source Apple

Apple’s “Gather Round” Event Round Up

Today Apple held their September “Gather Round” event. As expected, Apple released unveiled new products. But for only two product lines, the Apple Watch and the iPhone. Let us start with the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch was introduced four years ago in September of 2014 and released in April fo 2015. In the interim releases additional features have been added and they have all fit into the same physical sizes of 38mm and 42mm. The Apple Watch Series 3 added a cellular option. The latest version, the Apple Series 4, offers a whole new look.

Externals

The Apple Watch Series 4 starts with two new screen sizes, 40mm and 44mm. The screens now go edge to edge, and the bezels have been reduced to allow you to see more on the screen at one time. This is because the new screen sizes have over 30% more physical screen. While the screens are bigger, the Apple Watch Series 4 is thinner, by 0.7mm. Your existing Apple Watch bands will still work with the Series 4. Along with the screens, the Digital Crown has been modified to include haptic feedback, which will help you know when an action is taken.

Watch Faces

With the redesign of the screen the Apple Watch faces have also changed. There is a new “Breathe” watch face that comes in three variations that will allow you to simply tap on the watch face and start a “Breathing” session. Besides the new “Breathe” watch face there is another new watch face that will allow you to have up to eight complications on it at once. This allows you to see the information that you want to see, all at a glance. This includes added people’s faces to the watch face which you will be able to contact them with one tap.

The Modular Watch face, which is the one I use most often, is also getting redesigned to allow more information to be shown from stocks, weather, and other sources. The ability to customize the Apple Watch face even more than you could before will help the Apple Watch become an even more personalized device.

Internals

The outsides have been redesigned, but so have the internals. The Apple Watch Series 4 now sports a 64-bit dual-core S4 processor, which is 2x faster than the previous S3. The Apple Watch has been equipped with a heart sensor since its introduction, but there is a second generation heart sensor, which can perform more measurements. This includes when your blood pressure is too low.

The biggest improvement though is the ability to have the Apple Watch Series 4 take an electrocardiogram reading. This is done by starting up the ECG app and placing your finger on the Digital Crown. This will create an electrical loop which will allow the app to gather the necessary data. You can then take the information and send it to your doctor in a PDF format. The ECG app has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration, who is in charge of any medical devices and their claims. It should be noted that the ECG app is coming later this year.

One other area of improvement is the accelerometer. The Accelerometer and gyroscope in the Apple Watch Series 4 has been improved to be able to detect 32 g-forces, which is up from 16 g-forces on the Series 3. This improvement allows for a new motion detection, falling. It is bound to happen to us at one time or another. In a majority of cases the only outcome is the embarrassment when it happens with others around. However, in the event that it is more serious, the Apple Watch Series 4 will be able to do more than just detect the fall. If you do fall and there has not been any movement for over a minute, the Apple Watch Series 4 will automatically contact emergency services. Along with this the emergency contacts will also be notified. It is not a feature that anybody wants to have to use, but in the event it is needed it will be a very welcome change.

Colors, Materials and Pricing

The Apple Watch Series 4 comes in two models, a GPS-only model, and a GPS + Cellular. The GPS Model comes in an aluminum finish and can be Silver, Space Gray, or Gold. The GPS + Cellular comes in aluminum or stainless steel. It is also in the same colors, Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. The Gold on the stainless steel model is a slightly different shade of gold. The Nike+ version is only available in Silver and Space Gray and is aluminum only. The Hermes version is in stainless steel only.

The Series 4 starts at $399 for the 40mm GPS only model, the 44mm model is $429. The aluminum GPS + Cellular is $499 and $529 respectively. The Stainless Steel is $699 for the 40mm and $$749 for the 44mm with a sport band. If you go with the Milanese Loop the price goes to $799 and $849 respectively. The Stainless Steel model is GPS + Cellular only. The Nike+ models are also $399 for the GPS only model and $499 for the GPS + Cellular. The Hermes version starts at $1,249 and goes up to $1,499.

The Apple Watch Series 3 remains and is now $279 for the 38mm, and $309 for the 42mm. If you want the GPS + Cellular version, that will cost $379 and $409 respectively. You can buy the Apple Watch Series at the new lower prices right now.

Pre-orders for the Apple Watch Series 4 start on Friday, September 14th at 12:01am Pacific Time. It will be available on September 21st. Now, let us look at the iPhones.

iPhone

Last year Apple showed off a whole new interaction method with the iPhone X. The iPhone X removed the home button which also replaced Touch ID with Face ID. Many speculated that the iPhone X This year Apple is bringing Face ID to even more of the iPhone line up. Instead of the two new phones that were introduced last year, there are now three new phones, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

Displays

Last year when Apple introduced the iPhone X, it was not certain how well it would be received, given the radical redesign. The screen of the iPhone X was larger than the screen on the iPhone 8 Plus, and it was still physically smaller. The screen size on the iPhone X is 5.8 inches. This year there is a replacement for the iPhone X, the iPhone XS, pronounced “Ten S”. It is still sporting a 5.8-inch screen and it is still OLED, which means the colors will be as good as ever. That is not all. The iPhone XS also now has a bigger brother, the iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XS Max sports a 6.5-inch OLED display.

The all new iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch LCD display. However, it is also

The screen resolutions for the models are 2436 by 1125, at 458 pixels per inch, for the iPhone X, 2688 by 1242 at 458 pixels per inch, for the iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XR on the other hand is 1792 by 828 pixels, at 326 pixels per inch.

All of the iPhone have True Tone displays, the Wide Color Gamut (Display P3), and a Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. Now, let us look at the internals.

Internals

All three of the new iPhones have an A12 Bionic chip, which is up to 50% faster than the A11, in CPU tasks and 15x faster with Graphics while being 40% more efficient.

The iPhones also has a new Face ID system, which is faster. This is due to the faster storage and even faster secure enclave. There is also an upgraded Neural Network chip. The iPhone XS Neural Network chip houses 8 processors. Last year it was able to process 600 Billion transactions per second. The A12 version is capable of handling 5 Trillion operations per second. The A12 Neural network is capable of performing real-time machine learning with CoreML and through applications. This ability will also work well within Augmented Reality applications by allowing real-time updating of information.

Cameras

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have an improved camera system. The new camera includes Dual 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras, Wide-angle with a ƒ/1.8 aperture, a Telephoto lens with a ƒ/2.4 aperture with Dual optical image stabilization. There is a new feature as well, called Smart HDR.

Smart HDR will take more than just the four images that HDR takes. Instead it will take an additional interleaved set of images, and one additional image. These nine images will then be processed to find the best composite image and will provide you even better quality images. To go with Smart HDR, you can also use the new “Advanced bokeh effect”. The advanced bokeh effect will allow you to change the depth information for a portrait photo after the photo is taken to show the just the right amount of background.

By contrast, the iPhone XR has a single camera lens. But it still sports many of the same features. These include a 12MP wide-angle camera with an ƒ/1.8 aperture, Smart HDR, Portrait Mode with advanced bokeh effect, Optical image stabilization, and much more.

The Face ID Camera has also been improved. It is still a 7 megapixel camera, but it can now support 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps.

Dual Sim

One area where the iPhone has not been as advanced as other phones is when it comes to having multiple SIMs. This year, the phones all have Dual-SIM support. Dual-sim support is great if you need to have multiple phone lines, but want to use the same physical phone. This could be having one number for personal and another one for work. Another possibility is when you are traveling. You may want to keep your home phone number but may also want to have one for the local country. The capability for Dual-SIMs is made possible through the use of a physical SIM as well as an eSIM, which has been present in the iPads.

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR will be able to differentiate between the two lines. And you can even label them to your liking so you can easily see who is calling and be able to answer appropriately. There is a special model for China that will have two physical SIMs.

Differences

There are some differences between the iPhone XS/XS Max and the iPhone XR. For instance, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are made out of stainless steel, where the iPhone XR is aluminum. The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are rated at IP68, which means that it can be submerged at 2 meters for 30 minutes without causing issues. The iPhone XR on the other hand is rated as IP67, which means it can be submerged at 1 meter for 30 minutes without issue. The last change is that the iPhone XR does not have 3D Touch, which for those users who are used to it may be an issue.

Like last year the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max come in three colors, Silver and Space Gray. There is also an additional color, Gold. This contrasts with the iPhone XR which has six different colors, Yellow, White, Coral, Black, Blue, and (PRODUCT) Red.

Storage and Pricing

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max come in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB models. The pricing for the iPhone XS is $999, $1149, and $1349 respectively, while the iPhone XS Max is $1099, $1249, and $1449, respectively. Pre-orders for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max start at 12:01 am Pacific on September 14th, and they will be available on September 21st.

The iPhone XR comes in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB Models. The pricing is $749, $799, and $899 respectively. The pre-orders for the iPhone XR start on October 19th, and will be available on October 26th.

Entire iPhone Lineup

With the introduction of new models, some older models have shifted in terms of price. The new lineup is the iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone 7 comes in 32GB for $449, and 128GB for $549. The iPhone 8 is $599 for the 64GB and $749 for the 256GB.

AppleCare

Apple’s iPhones have always had an option to add AppleCare to them. This warranty protects you from accidental damage and allows you to get it fixed for two years. This also includes hardware and software support. There is a new option, “AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss”. This is, as one might expect, more expensive. It includes all of the AppleCare+ offerings, but also provides you with protection against theft and loss. There is one additional payment option for AppleCare+, you can pay for it monthly instead of all up front. This may help some people be able to afford the iPhone and pay for the warranty over time. This is available on all iPhones. Here are the AppleCare+ Costs:

Device AppleCare+ Monthly AppleCare+ Full AppleCare+ Theft and Loss Monthly AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss Full
iPhone 7/8 $5.99 $129.00 $9.99 $199.00
iPhone 7/8 Plus $7.99 $149.00 $12.99 $249.00
iPhone XR $7.99 $149.00 $12.99 $249.00
iPhone XS/XS Max $9.99 $199.00 $14.99 $299.00

iOS 12 and HomePod

iOS 12 will be released on September 17th and is a free update for all users. On the same day, the HomePod will also get an update which will allow you to do a couple of new things. The first is to make and take phone calls directly on your HomePod. Along wit this you will also be able to start multiple timers on the HomePod, which will be great for some users. The last new feature is the ability to ping your devices from the HomePod to help locate them in the house.

Closing Thoughts

Even though Apple’s September event focused on only two products, the Apple Watch and the iPhone. The Apple Watch has seen its biggest set of improvements to date with the Apple Watch Series 4. This includes as a set of larger screens, redesigned watch faces, and a set of new sensing capabilities. The ability to get an ECG right from the Watch and then being able to send it to your doctor will help many users. What could also help save lives is detecting a low blood pressure situation. The biggest of all though is the new fall detection. In the case that you do fall, if you do not get up within a minute, the Apple Watch will contact emergency services and your emergency contacts, so that you will be able to get the assistance you need.

The new iPhone lineup is one that has something for everyone. All of the new iPhones sport the A12 Bionic processor, edge-to-edge screen, the faster Face ID, faster graphics, processor, and the new Neural Engine and the inclusion of advanced bokeh effect with depth effect control.

While there are differences between the iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS models, they are minor differences. These include the iPhone XR being made out of aluminum instead of stainless steel like the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and IP67 for the iPhone XR and IP68 for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Additionally, the iPhone XR coms in six colors, and the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max only comes in three colors.

The inclusion of the iPhon XR shows that all future iPhones will have edge-to-edge bezels and are definitely the future of the iPhone.

Apple September Event Predictions

On August 30th, Apple Announced that they would be holding their September event. This year’s event is titled “Gather Round”. As with the other Apple events, I offer up my predictions. Unlike other events, the September event is somewhat easier to guess what will be announced. Here are my guesses.

iPhone

Ever since 2011, with the release of the iPhone 4s, Apple has been releasing iPhones at their fall event. In 2011, it was October. Since the iPhone 5, it has been September. This year is likely no different. I am thinking there will be three new iPhones released. These will be the replacement for the iPhone X, a larger model, and the oft rumored 6.1-inch LCD model.

I am guessing that all three of these models will have the same general design as the iPhone X. This means that there will be very small bezels as well as Touch ID being replaced with Face ID.

Naming

The one thing that is always difficult to guess is the naming. For a majority of iPhone releases, there have been two cycles for names. iPhone 3G, 3GS, iPhone 4, 4s, iPhone 5, 5s, and iPhone 6, 6s. There was no iPhone 7s, because the iPhone 8 was announced last year instead. I have no idea what they will call these phones, so this is merely a wild guess. I am going to guess that the two OLEd models will be called the iPhone Xs. At the same time, the LCD model will be called the iPhone Xc.

I give the likelihood of the iPhone X replacement and a larger one at 100%, while I give the probability of the 6.1-inch LCD model being released at 90%. I give the probability of the naming at 50% for each name.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch, released in 2015, and unlike the other iOs-based devices, it has remained largely unchanged since its release, at least physically. The Apple Watch Series 3 did get slightly thicker, but only by a millimeter.

I predict that the Apple Watch Series 4 will be released and it will be significantly redesigned. It is my guess that it will have less bezel and have a more edge-to-edge screen, yet it will have the same physical size of the watch.. With less bezel, the screen itself will be larger. The fact that the screen is bigger, means that that there is more area to put the battery. The Apple Watch Series 3 has plenty of battery life to last through an entire day, so it is not my guess that the battery life will increase. Actually, my guess is that at it will remain the same battery life, but the bigger screen will let the battery be thinner. This will result in the watch being thinner, which will be a welcome change for users.

I give the likelihood of a new Apple Watch being announced at 100%, with the screen having less bezel at 85%. My guess is that battery life remains the same at 75%, and the Apple Watch Series 4 being thinner at 90%.

HomePod

The HomePod is Apple’s latest iOs-based accessory, and is less than a year old. The HomePod has been available for just about seven months and it is likely to see an update, to iOS 12. The one feature it will likely include is Siri Shortcut support, in particular for third-party apps.

I give the likelihood of a software update for the HomePod at 95%.

iPads

It would not be unprecedented for Apple to announce the release of new iPads. Apple released the current iPads at last year’s WWDC keynote. It is possible that they will release new ones, however it is also possible that they will not. If Apple does announce new iPads, here is what I think they will have.

My guess is that the iPad Pros are the only ones that will be updated, since the 9.7-inch iPad was updated in March. The new iPad Pros will have reduced bezel, with no Touch ID but instead will have Face ID. I think the screen sizes will remain the same, at 10.5 inches and 12.9-inches. The reduced bezels means the the physical size of the iPad devices will be smaller, which will allow easier handling.

It is also possible that the new iPads will remain the same physical size, but the screens will be a bit larger. If this is the case, the current 12.9-inch iPad would end up being approximately 14.5 inches. It would be great to actually have an even larger iPad, but within the same physical form factor.

I give the probability of new iPad Pros at 60%, because there is already a lot of stuff in the keynote. If iPads Pros are announced, I give the likelihood of them having Face ID at 100%, reduced bezels at 95%, and being the same physical size at 50%, and retaining the same screen size at 50%.

Accessories

Apple sells many accessories for their iOS-based devices. One product that was announced but has not been released is the AirPower mat. In case you do not remember, the AirPower Mat is supposed to allow you to charge three devices simultaneously. The ones that Apple showed are an iPhone, the AirPods, with a different case, and the Series 3 Apple Watch. The AirPods were supposed to be usable with a different case, which would be sold separately, but has not yet been made available. The Apple Watch has always had inductive charging, so it

I give the likelihood of Apple announcing that the AirPower Mat being available at 75%, a new set of AirPods at 35%, and a new AirPods case at 95%, provided the AirPower Mat is released.

Macs

It is possible that Apple will announce new Macs, however, the keynote is already a bit full, and it is likely that the new Macs would warrant some additional time than just a few minutes. So it is my guess that the likelihood of new Macs being announced at 5%. I rally do think that thy will need their own event, or at least press releases, or journalist meetings.

Recap

So let us recap my predictions. These are ordered in highest percentage to lowest percentage.

Prediction Likelihood
New 5.8-inch iPhone model 100%
New larger OLED iPhone model 100%
New Apple Watch Model 100%
New iPad Pros having Face ID, if iPads announced 100%
iOS 12 release date being announced 100%
HomePod software update 95%
New AirPods Case, if AirPower mat released 95%
New iPad Pros, having reduced bezels 95%
New 6.1-inch LCD iPhone model 90%
New Apple Watch being thinner 90%
New Apple Watch bezels being smaller 85%
AirPower Mat Released 75%
Apple Watch battery being the same 75%
New iPad Pros Announced 60%
New iPad Pros, being same physical size 50%
New iPad Pros, having same screen size 50%
New AirPods 35%
New Macs 5%

Those are all of my predictions. We will know all about what Apple announces on Wednesday, September 12th at 10:00 am Pacific Time.

And while you wait for the keynote, you can pre-order my iOS 12 e-book for $3.99.