League of Legends is coming to the iPhone. Sort of.
The game (a wildly popular esport in the Moba genre) is being adapted to an iPhone-specific version called League of Legends: Wild Rift.
It’s unclear how different this version is, but it seems unlikely it will be cross-compatible with the desktop original. It looks pretty though!
Now we get The Chip Bit. We already had this last month – the A14 Bionic is the same chip that was in the new iPad Air. So you’re forgiven if you’re getting a bit of deja vu right now: the chip is 50% faster for graphics performance than any other smartphone chip, Apple says, and is the first to be fabricated using a 5nm process (that’s the size of the transistors on the chip. It is very small), but we’ve heard a lot of this before.
One new feature coming to the iPhone 12: “Smart Data Mode”, which lets the phone drop down to 4G automatically if it doesn’t need the speeds to save battery life. It’s a sideways acknowledgement that this is going to be a bumpy transition.
The phone also features a new display technology: “ceramic shield”, a new type of screen which is “tougher than any smartphone glass”. It has four times better drop performance, apparently, “the biggest jump in reliability we’ve ever had on iPhone.”
The new iPhone 12 has picked up the OLED screen of the iPhones 11 Pro, giving it a sharper, brighter and more colourful screen, according to Kaiann Drance, the company’s head of iPhone marketing.
That also makes it smaller than the iPhone 11, with an industrial design that resembles a cross between the iPad Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro.
And so, onto the iPhone 12:
Cook brings out the CEO of Verizon, Hans Vestberg, to talk a bit more about 5G. British readers can ignore most of this for multiple reasons: for one thing, Verizon is a US-only carrier; but for another, the specific technology Vestberg is talking about is mmWave 5G, which is not used much outside the USA.
Vestberg discusses the benefits of the technology, which Verizon has dubbed UltraWideband 5G: it’s extremely fast. He doesn’t bring up the downsides: it gets blocked by trees and panes of glass, which means coverage is limited to very dense urban areas.
Vestberg ends: “5G just got real,” before handing back to Cook.
Back to Tim, and onto the main event: the iPhone.
“The Next Generation is here,” Cook says: “Today, we’re bringing 5G to iPhone.” It will bring more responsive gaming, real-time interactivity, and faster uploads and downloads, he says, and you can get faster speeds even in densely connected areas.
“Each generation of cellular network technology on iPhone has enabled breakthrough innovations… and 5G is the most exciting step yet,” he adds.
You would think, to hear him, that Apple invented 5G, rather than being nearly a year late to the technology.
Really impressive pricing: The HomePod Mini, in black or white, will be just $99, with pre-orders opening November 6, shipping ten days later.
Apple turns to a brief overview of all the things Siri can do on the HomePod Mini. Its sub-par smart assistant has always been the weakness of the HomePod line, particularly now that the company is gradually allowing audio from services other than Apple Music, but Apple is insistent today that Siri is smart enough to “help you get things done around the home”.
One cute new feature, Intercom, lets users send a message to their family across a network of linked HomePods, as well as their Watches, iPhones and other Apple devices.
It’s… a mini HomePod!
The company says, unsurprisingly, that it comes with a “compact design” that still has “truly big sound”. The S5 chip inside the smart speaker – the same one that was inside last year’s Apple Watch – enables “computational audio”, the company says.
When you place two in the same room, they intelligently become a stereo pair, and if they’re in the rest of the house, you can have multiroom audio. If you have a newer iPhone, it can “feel like your devices are physically linked” thanks to the UWB chip in new phones.
What’s not clear yet is what the trade-offs are versus the HomePod (Maxi?). The smaller speaker presumably has some, but obviously we’re not going to hear about them today.
Tim Cook launches straight into an “exciting new product for the home.”
“We focus on three key attributes: first, they must be easy to use; we design our products to work well together; and we design them to protect your privacy.
“We applied these principles when we made the HomePod. And now, we want to bring this experience to even more people.”
It’s the HomePod Mini, folks.
And we’re off. Some gentle electronica and muted colours fade into the orange and black of the company’s event invitation, which bore the tagline “Hi, Speed”, before we cut to a nice time-lapse montage of Apple Park. It’s like Koyaanisqatsi, if that film was soundtracked by breathy pop rather than Philip Glass, and if it was about how pretty Apple’s HQ is.
This is the third event Apple has held since lockdown forced the company to abandon its normal glossy affairs in its Steve Jobs Theatre, and it will be interesting to see if they continue to evolve their presentation.
WWDC, in the summer, was presented largely like the keynotes of prior years, albeit with more pre-recorded cutaways: it even opened with Tim Cook on stage, albeit with the camera facing out onto the empty auditorium.
But by last month’s iPad launch, the show had become more freeform: Cook walking down a corridor in Apple’s office cut to a segment presented from a gym, and then a moody blue-and-black shot inside the company’s “secret research labs”.
One trend that will probably stick around is the increased pace of the whole affair. Without pauses for Apple employees to whoop enthusiastically, or the need to deal with guests to walk on and off stage, the events have been much faster, and more information-dense, than previous years. This time, I’d be surprised if we went past 90 minutes. Good news all round – except for us livebloggers, who now have to type twice as fast as normal just to keep up.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live blog of Apple’s latest press event. We’ll be kicking off at 10am Pacific Time – that’s 6pm UK time, and 4am in New South Wales if you’re staying up for all the latest news.
We’re expecting to see no less than four new iPhones today, as well as a grab-bag of other products including, potentially, the launch of Apple’s first own-brand over-ear headphones.
If you want to watch along live, Apple is streaming the event on YouTube, which I’ve also embedded above. Otherwise, stick around here, and we’ll keep you up to date with the important news, translate the technobabble, and just quietly ignore most of the advertising over the next few hours.