I just finished watching the two-hour Apple live event. It was interesting, as usual, though without a great deal of relevance to ebooks and ereading. Special guest appearances included an appearance by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario himself, to promote a new iPhone Mario game, and an appearance by John Henke of Niantic to show off a new Pokémon Go interface for the Apple Watch. There’s a new, waterproof Apple Watch, and a new CPU for the old one that’s staying on.
The biggest news is, of course, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. As expected, these phones dropped the analog earphone jack in favor of using the Lightning connector for earphones, though both a set of Lightning earphones and a Lightning-to-earphone-jack adapter will be included with the new phone. There’s also a fairly-impressive-looking set of wireless earbuds called the Apple AirPods—truly wireless earbuds that you just stick in each ear, without even a connection to each other. Connecting them to the iPhone, or other Apple devices, is made considerably easier than pairing Bluetooth speakers, though I don’t know that I’d necessarily find them worth the $169 asking price.
The new iPhone 7 is also IP67 dust- and waterproof. As Android Authority explained when the Samsung Galaxy S4 was declared IP67 in 2013, a few years ago, this means it’s completely dust-proof, and can survive immersion at up to 1 meter depth for up to 30 minutes. That’s not quite as good as the 50-meter rating for the new Apple Watch, and you’re obviously not expected to take your phone swimming or scuba diving, but it does mean the phone will probably survive the odd accidental drop into pool or tub. Which is better than you can say for the Kindle Oasis!
The presentation made a great deal out of the iPhone’s new camera capabilities, including the iPhone 7 Plus model with a built-in telephoto camera for taking even better photos, but that doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with ebooks. One thing that might is that the new Retina HD Display is said to have even better ability to present colors—something they repeatedly noted didn’t come across as well on the presentation display, but that people will absolutely notice when they look at the screen on the iPhone itself.
Another important point is that the iPhone 7 will have the best battery life of any iPhone yet, due in part to the use of Apple’s new A10 processor. The processor includes a pair of low-energy, high-efficiency cores for use with tasks that don’t take up a lot of processing power, such as checking email—or, presumably, when reading ebooks.
Something else worth mentioning is that iPhone storage capacities are doubling again—the basic model of iPhone 7 comes in at 32 GB, with the more advanced models boasting 128 GB and 256 GB. Apple is also doubling the capacities of the 6S and 6S Plus phones it will continue to offer alongside the new line. That’s certainly room for a lot more ebooks, though it seems more likely Apple was thinking about music and movies when it made the change.
In fact, ebooks and other print media didn’t come in for a lot of mention during the presentation at all. There certainly wasn’t any mention of iBooks or the new “iBooks Storytime” feature Nate Hoffelder expected to hear about. Presumably that will come later on, perhaps once iOS 10 launches in a couple of weeks. Photography, games, and fitness seemed to be the main orders of business, along with a little mention of music. Are ebooks simply “yesterday’s news” as far as Apple is concerned? Or do they simply recognize that they’re not the gosh-wow feature they used to be?
So, the new iPhone is as spiffy a device as any new iPhone ever was, and waterproof for bathtub reading, too. The lack of a headphone jack is still more than a little offputting, and I’ve already seen Facebook friends avowing an intention to switch phone operating systems over it, but the inclusion of the adapter dongle at least means people who’ve already bought expensive headphones will be able to keep using them. It remains to be seen how quickly other manufacturers will follow suit.