Apple today announced three new iPhones and a new pair of Apple Watches. This hardware will run the latest operating systems from Apple, meaning iOS 12 for the iPhones and watchOS 5 for the Watch. Apple has put together a guide for developers to help them ensure their apps are prepared for the new phones and wearables on day one.
The new phones have new screens, new processors, and new cameras. The three devices are the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and the iPhone Xr. The first is a refreshed version of last year’s iPhone X, while the Xs Max is just a larger version of the Xs. The Xr is a more affordable all-display phone. What’s most important is that all three are powered by the A12 Bionic processor from Apple.
The A12 Bionic is Apple’s first 7nm process chip. Huawei may have announced kits 7nm Kirin 980 last month, but it appears that Apple will be first to ship a 7nm processor. The A12 bionc has a 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU, and 8-core NPU (neural processing unit). It’s the NPU that really turbo-charges the new iPhones. The A12 Bionic can handle five trillion operations per second. The neural engine was built for advanced, real-time machine learning, allowing it to see patterns, offer predictions, and learn along the way. Together with the CPU and GPU, the neural engine is an augmented reality powerhouse. As such, Apple has opened up the Neural Engine to the Core ML platform, which means developers can add real-time machine laerning to their own applications. The A12 Bionic also targets MLKit, ARKit, and Metal, three heavy-duty developer toolsets.
The screens introduce some drool-worthy specs. The iPhone Xs has a 5.8-inch OLED with 2,436 by 1,125 pixels and the iPhone Xs Max has a 6.5-inch OLED with 2,688 by 1,242 pixels. Both offer a pixel density of 458ppi and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000 to 1.What’s most impressive is that the displays adopt Dolby Vision and HDR10 with a wide color gamut. This means games can provide richer worlds that offer more nuance for people to explore. The Xr changes things up a bit. It is a 6.1-inch LCD with 1,792 by 828 pixels.
Apple hopes developers will update the UI of their apps to match these new screens. “If you’ve already updated your app for iPhone X, simply build your app with the iOS 12 SDK and test in Simulator, included with Xcode 10, to make sure it looks great on iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR,” said Apple in a note to developers.
In addition to the new iPhones, Apple overhauled its smartwatch. The Apple Watch Series 4 makes a big change thanks to new 40mm and 44mm screen sizes. These larger displays can contain far more information. In fact, Apple says each watch face can support up to eight complications. Apple has a guide on how to design for the new displays here.
The device packs the new Apple S4 processor with a custome 64-bit, dual-lcore processor that is twice as fast as the processor in the Series 3. The speaker is louder, the mic has been optimized for phone calls, and Siri should be more responsive.
The biggest aspect of watchOS 5 for developers to worry about is Siri Shortcuts. This are customizable routines that end users can create to tackle several tasks at once. Developers will need to ensure their apps are updated with the proper support for Siri Shortcuts in order for them to function proiperly.
The Watch 4 targets health and fitness in a big way. The wearable has improved heart rate monitors and advanced software that can detect a-fib. Moreover, the Watch’s digital crown can read the elelctrical signals from your finger and generate an electrocardiogram. The FDA has approved the Watch 4 as a medical device. Those who develop health and fitness apps will be able to put this data to use in myriad beneficial ways.
The devices go on sale soon. The iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Watch Series 4 all land in consumer hands September 21. The iPhone Xr arrives a bit later on October 26.