Apple CEO Tim Cook hosted a special event today (Sept. 12) at the brand-new Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., in which the company unveiled three new phones: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and all-new iPhone X, which Cook called "The biggest leap forward since the original iPhone." The company's executive team also introduced several updates and innovations to its retail operations and Apple TV, with the biggest changes saved for the Apple Watch.
The event opened with a voiceover from Apple's legendary co-founder Steve Jobs, which Cook called "fitting" when he took the stage shortly after 1 p.m. EST; the theater's debut heralds the opening of the forthcoming Apple Park, which Jobs helped design before his death in 2011. After Cook spent a few minutes speaking about hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Florida and Apple svp of retail Angela Ahrendts introduced updates to the company's retail stores -- rebranded Apple Town Squares -- the event got into the product side, the most-anticipated part of the event. And there were several small updates for Apple's music fans, among a slew of other new features and innovations.
Company COO Jeff Williams spoke about the Apple Watch Series 3, which for the first time will allow users access to Apple Music to stream its 40 million songs, podcasts or Beats 1 radio shows (it also has cellular access and a series of health-related updates and initiatives). Those Series 3 watches will work with Apple's AirPod earbuds and run $399 a pop with cellular service and $329 each without, with orders beginning Sept. 15 and availability starting Sept. 22. Apple TV will also be more tightly integrated with Apple Music in its new iteration.
The bulk of the presentation was spent on the company's three new iPhones, beginning with the upgraded iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The two have completely redesigned glass exteriors, wireless charging, AR capabilities and a brand new interior chip called A11 Bionic, which Apple senior vp worldwide marketing Phil Schiller called "The most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smart phone." For music fans, the updates were minimal, though the speaker on the phones were said to be 25 percent louder. With 32GB, 64GB and 256GB editions, the iPhone 8 starts at $699, and the iPhone 8 Plus begins at $799.
But the real star of the show was the long-rumored iPhone X, an overhauled phone with a water- and dust-resistant screen covering the entire front of the phone and a "super retina display," which Schiller said was "the first OLED display great enough to be on an iPhone." The most notable upgrade was the announcement of Face ID, with which the iPhone X will be able to recognize its owner's face -- even in the dark -- with the phone's neural engine specifically designed to protect against Face ID being fooled by photographs, masks or fake faces. (Schiller put the possibility of someone else being able to unlock the phone via Face ID at "roughly one in a million," though allowed that an evil twin could pull it off.) The iPhone X will begin at $999 and start shipping at the end of October.
Conspicuously absent in the announcement, however, was an expected update to Apple's HomePod smart speaker, which many had expected would get an upgrade as the home audio/smart speaker market gets crowded with Amazon's Echo and Dot, Google's Home and SONOS' suite of new speakers, the latter of which are expected to be unveiled next month.