Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s warm southern drawl is always pleasing on the ears and at yesterday’s special event, also known as "iPhone Day", it was no different. As I watched with hovering hands over an open laptop and pizza box (I’ll let you decide which got most attention), one thing I already knew was re-affirmed: this is an incremental year, not a disruptive one.
Confirming the hottest trend on every marketer’s lips this year, gaming is set to go high-def and highly adopted, thanks to Apple’s new subscription-based Arcade service. It’ll bring exclusive games from big-name studios to a new tab inside the App Store every month in more than 150 countries for £4.99 per month for as many as six users.
And while the tech giant tries to redefine itself as a service company by launching a similar subscription for exclusive telly content (directly going up against Amazon and Netflix), it’s actually in the weeds of the hardware and software announcements that little nuggets of potential creative greatness lie.
Here are the six easy-to-miss gems waiting for us to turn into brand gold.
Apple Watch is getting a compass…
I know – big deal, right? Well, not so fast. A compass sounds mundane, but the technology wrapped up in it means developers can now leverage five real-time data points: heading, incline, longitude, latitude and elevation. The potential to build brand experiences that can get such granular information about our users' physical locality is huge. Dynamically adaptive city-wide treasure hunt, anyone?
…and a decibel reader
Another extension on the Apple Watch Series 5 is a new app called Noise. The decibel reader can measure ambient sound and notify wearers when it reaches dangerous levels. Great for city-dwellers, festivalgoers or perhaps even new parents. Tapping into noise data can help us build out richer experiences that take into account even more real-world context. Perfect for any brand playing in noisy spaces.
The new chip means better AR
Apple’s A series chips have led the industry for years in terms of speed and its latest iteration, the A13 Bionic chip, doesn’t disappoint. I’ll spare you the nerd specs (you can get those here, if you’re so inclined). The recurring theme across three of the chip’s most important components is a boost in performance in tandem with serious energy savings. The A13 has the fastest central processing unit and graphics processing unit of any smartphone, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in augmented reality. We can now flawlessly place virtual objects around physical ones, thanks to these processing units, meaning AR is getting more immersive, more magical and more anticipated.
For the first time, you can use both cameras simultaneously
This may sound trivial, but never before has it been possible to capture what the user sees, and the user themselves, at the same time. Imagine empowering your audience to film an experience and their live reaction to it at the very same moment. The creative possibilities are vast and exciting.
Spatial awareness just next-levelled
The iPhone 11 Pro’s U1 chip gives the device another sense: the ability to feel where it is in relation to other devices sporting the same chip. For now, this means faster transfer of files over AirDrop if you’re pointing at the destination device. But the creative possibilities here are huge for those wild enough to dream up new applications. In the meantime, we can all take inspiration from Adidas’ AirDrop-fuelled sneaker drop at Coachella this year. Using real-world physical proximity to trigger virtual events is perfect for any brand that wants to truly bring people together.
A new cultural phenomenon?
Last and perhaps a little irreverent, here comes the "slofie". You guessed it – it’s a slow-mo selfie. With the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro’s updated 12-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing cameras, millions will now be able to capture their own mugs at 120 frames per second, for better or for worse. The perfect opportunity for health, beauty and well-being brands to offer their audiences physical spaces to look their best in slow motion. One to keep in mind for your next experiential set-up.
Gracie Page is innovation lead at VMLY&R