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5 Big Announcements from the Apple Launch Event

09/11/2015 04:10 EDT | Updated 09/11/2016 05:12 EDT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
The new Apple Watch with a Hermes band is displayed following an Apple event Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in San Francisco. Apple staked a new claim to the living room on Wednesday, as the maker of iPhones and other hand-held gadgets unveiled an Internet TV system that's designed as a beachhead for the tech giant's broader ambitions to deliver a wide range of information, games, music and video to the home. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

By now the dust has settled from Apple's launch event on Wednesday, and you've probably had a chance to read the recaps from the two hours worth of announcements. Based on the live Twitter stream and the post-event recaps, there are a few things everyone can agree on: first, the media had it pretty spot-on in their predictions for the event, which made it less of a surprise than events in the past. Second, this event was one of the largest in Apple's history, jam-packed with announcements and updates for Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone, and the Apple TV product lines. And finally, #emergencyselfie is the new hashtag to watch (thanks to the new "take a selfie" button on the new iPhones).

I was lucky enough to attend the event along with 7,000 other media and Apple employees, my first-ever Apple launch event experience. The excitement in the air was palpable, the Wifi signal was strong, and the lineups to get to the good seats were long (I snagged second row). While the iPad Pro was the day's biggest announcement, it wasn't what got really excited. Here's a recap of what I'm taking away as the most exciting announcements of the day:

Hermès x Apple Watch - One of the biggest consumer complaints about wearable tech is that it's not fashionable (hello Google Glass), so wearable tech companies are increasingly trying to position themselves as fashion brands instead of tech gadgets. It's why Fitbit collaborated with Tory Burch to make a stylish fitness tracker, and why Apple had a 12-page spread in Vogue earlier this year. The Hermès collection comes in three styles (my favourite is the double-wrap), plus a customizable watch face, and starts at $1,500 CAD. The partnership is one more step into the fashion world for Apple, and it also allows them to sell in luxury boutiques and upscale department stores. Expect more of these designer collaborations as Apple tries to appeal to style-conscious consumers.

Apple watchOS 2 - the arrival of Apple's watchOS 2 on September 16 means that watch apps will start running natively on your wrist, and start being a wrist-first experience. While they still need an iOS companion app, they'll run faster. Right now I use my watch primarily for fitness tracking and notifications (everything from flight boarding times to text messages), but I imagine this will change as we see new apps like Facebook Messenger roll out (there are 10,000 Watch apps in total). The update for watch I'm most excited about is native apps for Watch, which would mean developers could create watch-specific apps -- hopefully we see that added in the coming months.

Apple TV x Siri - After the event Apple had a couple demo areas set up so we could see the new products in action. One of the coolest demos was for Apple TV, which has a new Siri-enabled remote. Now finding something to watch is as simple as saying "show me romantic comedies" -- Siri will retrieve any relevant movies from across your various subscription services and video apps (iTunes, Netflix, shomi, CraveTV, etc), and you can then qualify the selections (only new movies, only movies with Kate Hudson) and start watching without touching a remote. You can also ask Siri for the weather or the latest sports scores, which are displayed on the bottom of your TV screen, so it seems like Apple is eliminating the need for a second screen - why open your weather app on your iPhone if you can just ask Siri to display it onscreen? Tim Cook said at the event that he believes the future of TV is apps, so the new Apple TV also has its own App Store -- I'm excited to see what type of apps developers will dream up for my TV.

iPhone 3D Touch - Everyone in the room was a little taken aback when they debuted the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which look exactly like the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. They must have anticipated that, because their tagline for the new models is "the only thing that's changed is everything." It was when they announced 3D Touch that I realized this isn't just a newer iPhone 6. Right now we tap, pinch, and swipe to interact with our iPhone, but 3D Touch means that the phone will recognize pressure -- so you would tap lightly to elicit a response, but press harder to enable different reactions, called peek and pop. Peek means you can glance at a photo or email without actually opening it (sorry email read receipts), and pop means you can press harder to actually open that content. I can't wait to see how this works in practice, and to me this is a defining feature that will make people put the iPhone 6s at the top of their wish list.

iPhone Live Photos - I love cinemagraphs, sometimes also called living photos, so I loved the live photos feature in the iPhone 6s camera. When the feature is enabled your phone will capture 1.5 seconds of video on either side of the image, so when you press down on it you can see the action surrounding that snap. Cinemagraphs are different, since they allow you to animate only one part of a photo, for example a spinning bicycle wheel, so live photos are quite different but equally as cool (check out Flixel's gallery of really beautiful cinemagraphs). As The Verge notes, live photos aren't GIFs or cinemagraphs because they include sound and they're not videos. I'm excited to test them out!

There you have it, my list of killer features and announcements from the Apple event.

Erin was a guest of Apple Canada at the event. The opinions in this post are her own.

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