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Apple iPhone 7 Announced

Apple just concluded their annual iPhone event with some surprises and disappointments. The biggest surprise was just how accurate the rumor-mill was leading up to the event. This was also the biggest disappointment; as Apple officially announced the end of the analog headphone jack on the iPhone.

SpitFit 2

Before getting into the iPhone, Apple announced the next generation Apple Watch. The segment primarily focused on the needs of swimmers and runners. Runners will like the new built-in GPS, so you can have accurate jog logs without bringing your phone. Swimmers can now take their watch into the pool, with a new fully waterproof design.

A challenge in designing a waterproof smart watch is keeping water out of the speaker. Apple has designed a special ejaculator into the speaker, to eject water when it comes out of the pool. The new SpitFit 2 is also available in a ceramic body, which is good news for those of us with nickle allergies.

They still haven't found a killer app for the watch, but they sincerely hope that Pokemon Go will be it. This seems unlikely, since the game is losing users rapidly. We've yet to see a compelling musical use for the watch, but if you can think of one you'll be able to get the new series 2 on the 16th, starting at $370. watchOS 3 officially launches on the 13th of this month.

If They Only Had a Clue

Apple took some time to pat themselves on the back; citing their "courage" for dropping the analog headphone jack. This put to rest rumors that they were merely assholes trying to sell new Beats headphones. Then they started trying to sell us new Beats headphones...

Seriously. That's how this went down. VP Phil Schiller said there was one word to describe the decision to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack: "courage." They tried to assuage fears by saying the iPhones will ship with a lightning-headphone dongle, and then they tried to sell us Beats by Dre. No one making music should be using Beats. The low-end ones are fucking horrific sounding, but even the high-end models color the sound heavily. If you're making music you do not want your mids being mangled by your headphones, nor bass boosting, nor any of the other shit headphone manufacturers come up with. You want studio reference monitors, which are often cheaper.

They also announced AirPods, which use proprietary wireless audio instead of Bluetooth. There's no way of knowing what the quality or latency will be on these. The only thing we can be sure about is that they had a very hard time making these look cool. Unlike wireless headphones that hide the battery around your neck, the AirPod battery dangles out of your ear.

Black is the New Black

Chinese sources had everyone expecting an iPhone 7 Pro today, but one was not announced. Instead they had the usual iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Since the rumors out of China were otherwise entirely accurate I wonder if we'll see an iPhone 7 Pro announced early next year. Similar to how the Apple Watch was announced separately from the iPhone initially.

The iPhone 7 Plus now sports some features photographers will like. The larger frame now houses 2 separate lenses, one for wide-angle, and one for 2x optical telephoto. This is a nice feature for anyone dissatisfied with digital zoom, but there is still up-to 10x zoom for when you want to take crappy photos.

That was the only major feature addition in this iteration of the iPhone, and again only on the iPhone 7 Plus. They now offer two different types of Black cases. A matte version, and a high-polish finger-print-magnet version called Jet Black.

After heaping all this shit on Apple, I will give them credit for finally dropping 16GB as the starting storage on the new phones! 32GB is now the standard, which is still half the size of the base Samsung Note 7, but at least that is a usable amount of storage. The iPhone 7 32GB will be $650, and the iPhone 7 Plus 32GB is $770. Pre-orders begin this Friday the 9th, and they will ship next week on the 16th.

Reader Comments 36

About time, I kept looking for your post on this Tim. :-) I love your picture selection for "Courage."

Well, besides the negative on the headphone jack I was encouraged to see up to 256GB storage. so, the advantages for us will be the A10 processor (and variants for the next iPads), and the storage capacity...otherwise there was very cool news for photographers.

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Toz Bourne

'Special ejaculator'???😂

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Matt

Not sure about the AirPods...maybe if they come with a discchord branded rubber bandy leash or somethin'...;-p

Seriously though...how to adjust volume, skip track, repeat, etc.. Siri??

September 07, 2016  | person_outline a1

I really hope this headphone thing starts pushing iOS music devs to start porting to android. While I do like my air, if the next ipads have no headphone jack then thats it. I wont 'upgrade' to something that now requires a dongle to be compatible with every other audio device I own

Supposedly the android latency stuff has been addressed in marshmallow which I really hope is the case, plus they did add alot more audio related features in M. Stuff like gadget and various synths are really the only reason Im stuck on ipad for now

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Evan

Eeeek. No headphone socket, that's interesting at the very least. What's the headphone dongle look like!

Evan -- I don't hold much hope with Android.

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Charlie

Oh, looks like the dongle won't allow charging at the same time.

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Charlie

Did a quick search for the Lightning to headphone jack adapter.

Dammit.

So if you use the adapter, you lose lightning. If you use lightning, you lose headphone. I was hoping it would be a splitter. They essentially snuffed an output source. One I use moderately frequently when I just want to plug it into a speaker and plug in a midi keyboard.

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Yur2die4

"This put to rest rumors that they were merely assholes trying to sell new Beats headphones. Then they started trying to sell us new Beats headphones..."

I had to stop three times, was laughing so hard at this. Ah jeez...

@Evan - it's better than the whopping 500ms (half a second!) latency it used to have but... pro audio favors latency under 10ms and they're not prioritizing this as a featureset.

The proliferation and ongoing support for many, many more hardware models - over 4000 compared to the handful of iOS devices - and older OS versions means this will likely either never get solved fully or require some kind of dedicated hardware/OS just for music production, which will take the price point back into Apple-land.

I would love to be proven wrong. But then, I would love a lot of things.

----

On a side note: feel kind of like mobile music might benefit from dedicated portable hardware devices the more I go on. I'm kind of stymied by iOS right now tbh; it was great as an exercise in what's possible, but ultimately feel like physical knobs, etc. are much more appealing in a tactile sense.

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Nonny Moose

Just don't buy it , boycott it , arseoles
But some of the worlds morons will

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Fuckem

I haven't used an iPad or
iPhone without a sound card except for casual listening. Maybe we will
See sound cards built into headphones now. I say about time. But then we'll need wireless charging. Anyways Apple is the
Only hope in the music world
Much as we may Bitch and complain. We will surmount their obstacles or
At least the
Companies will heroically and like Aplle, courageously!

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Psysword

We still don't know if the iPad will lose the headphone jack. They wouldn't seem to be facing the same internal space constraints as they mentioned on the phones. And why would they expect to sell any iPads for the next six months if consumers are expecting such a change?

September 07, 2016  | person_outline a1

The new wireless ear pods might be a good move or a bad move - I'll wait until they ship before deciding.

Remember - this is the company that brought out the original iMac without a floppy drive... and everyone screamed about that at the time. Who cares now?

"No more tangled wires" might be what phone consumers want...?

September 07, 2016  | person_outline Simon

^ Wireless charging!

@Tim Webb- the Apple store lists the AirPods as simply 'bluetooth'; and compatibility going back to iPhone 5. Likewise the $9 3.5mm to lightning dongle (so, anything with a lightning connector; and presumably iOS 9+ since audio via lightning has been available to Macs since then).

September 07, 2016  | person_outline a1

So how the fuck are we supposed to get sound out of this fancy new waterproof phone when running guitar/mic/keys in through the lightning port?

Did Apple consult with any of the audio app developers about this? Seeing as Apple Tim banged on at the end about how important music is to them.

Or did he just mean the music they sell.

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Bob

@a1: Interesting. They didn't mention Bluetooth at all during the presentation. It was all (hype) about their own thing.

I thought this was an odd time for them to make this push. Bluetooth 5.0 is coming out in about a year. At least that would make some sense if you're going to push people out of conventional headphones. Perhaps their tech is based on the Bluetooth 5 spec, which was finalized in June. Bluetooth 4.5?

Saw a humorous site offering 3.5 mm jacks that make the iPhone 6 flat when inserted... as a cheap way to upgrade to the 7 :P

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Yur2die4

I thought it was only us Brits that moan about everything. Guess what, some people still want their floppy disks! Or their SCSI connector. Time moves on and things change. I'm sure @Tim Webb will be getting one of these non-headphone jacks phones soon. I did moan about floppy disks being made obsolete but that was lessons learned for me. I'll be getting the black beauty 128 GB.

I'm sure the next Samsung phone will not have.......headphones jack. Bring it on.

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Medo

I completely disagree with Apple's decision to remove the headphones jack from the iPhone and i hope they won't do the same to newer iPad models as well. I instantly knew this would upset many iOS musicians including myself. But a solution for the lack of a headphones output could be a guitar/mic interface like the Sonic Port VX:
http://line6.com/sonicport-audio-interface/sonicport-vx/

I own one and it uses the lightning connector for both the audio inputs and outputs. It has guitar and aux inputs as well as a built-in stereo mic and its own headphone jack and also dual monitor outputs. It can charge your device as well when hooked up to a power source.

Since it is a digital interface there will be no audio bleed or feedback. Older analog interfaces that uses the headphones jack (like the original iRig) have that problem a lot. The Sonic Port VX is quite a nice interface although i still prefer my iRig Pro which is more compact and a little bit better sounding imo, but that one won't be practical anymore for the new iPhone 7 because it is only an input device.

I assume there might be other interfaces on the market probably that can do the same or new ones might be released soon since there will be a bigger demand for these kind of all-in-one lightning solutions.

....just a thought. Hope it helps take away some anger ;)

I really hope their wireless version has a lot less latency than regular bluetooth. I think they were deliberately vague about what 'wireless' technology these Airpods are using. And they also didn't say anything about improved latency. So i have my doubts about this whole wireless route.

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Dutchee

Fuck Samsung.

I've had multiple devices that ranged from "no, we're not going to update your Tab on T-Mobile because they didn't pay us enough; we did update every other combination globally though" to "oh yeah, all that cool stuff that worked when you got your Note 2, Note 3, and Note? Well we're breaking that with various Android updates that we didn't bother vetting all the additional features to make sure they worked with all the other Samsung stuff you own."

And they dragged their fucking asses for YEARS in bringing a device with 64 GB of storage, and then 128 GB. Hell, they announced they'd make them, and then change their minds. Now they announce, sell, then test their devices in the field as recalls are just SO much cheaper than internal QA, right?

Fuck them.

FUCK SAMSUNG. FUCK SAMSUNG. FUCK SAMSUNG.

I had 3 Nexus 7 2013 (FHD) devices and out of those three and three Note 4 phones, guess which ones could cast directly to either my Samsung TV or my Samsung HDMI puck? Yep, the Nexus 7 slates. Because the Note 4 came out and then they released a stupid patch to try and fix the Miracasting ability on the Note *3*. Awesome.

64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, and up. Move on. And after seeing the drivel on the "Courage" from Engadget yesterday, I've decided that I must be clearly courageous. Not because of my day job at a little base in south eastern AZ, but because I read about people whining in regard to the "misuse" of the word.

Fuck them.

Let it bring on the clickbait BS, I don't care anymore. I've lived the military for most of my life, and have a variety of friends and family that work in law enforcement and general "first responders." Guess what...they don't refer to themselves as courageous. So get over it.

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Fauxfreshness

Where is the big icock you suck to turn it on? Must flip down from the back?

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Anonymouse

@Medo: Here in the US we tend to cycle out our phones every 2 years. And because of cheap bundling options that's surprisingly affordable. This month marks my 2 years with an iPhone 6 Plus and ordinarily I'd be upgrading now without a second thought.

This time out, I'm having to do some real hard thinking about it. The battery in my iPhone 6 Plus is starting to die so I'd like to get it swapped.... but I use my headphone jack for everything! Either plugging directly into my audio interface for music making, or just to listening to music in my car. I don't want to fuck around with some dongle just to plug my phone into my car. That really could be the deal breaker for me.

I will finally be able to make my ios music underwater performance!

Am i too old? Are they stupidest hype nerd?

I'm on a break right now with ios music, seems like I won't go back... But will keep on reading you Tim!

September 08, 2016  | person_outline half d

The two big obstacles to getting the sound to your ear and gear: LATENCY and COMPATIBILITY.

Apple drums up the courage to tell their users:
1. You can't sync/charge and listen at the same time.
2. Add an adapter to your life.
3. Everything you hear will add an extra 5-10ms of latency to your experience.

Apple's "courage" in removing the CD/DVD-ROM drive was probably timed about right-- even though that chapped me at the time. And Apple's removal of the audio input jack-- though it sucked, wasn't the end of the world-- it just meant I had to always carry around some extra gear. Oh well.

However, in this case, think about how far back corded headphones go. This is a bold step.

It would have taken far less courage (on all of our parts) if they'd kept 3.5mm on there for a couple generations while the transitional tech is developed. Forcing people to adopt your tech by bricking their existing gear? Courage isn't the right word for that. It's got a little contempt mixed in there.

One thing feels forebodingly familiar: Because they used "Courage" to describe this, that means they aren't going to back down with whatever fallout there is. No matter consumers respond, they'll stick to it.

September 08, 2016  | person_outline stub

@Tim Webb and @Stub
I'm sure you guys realize things do change and sometimes that change is not readily acceptable as it is either a financial burden or it forces you to change your workflow? Somebody has to push that button to usher in a new way of doing things. Apple for sure have the courage to push those buttons when they think fit.

When Apple made a computer without a floppy disk I thought then the company will die. Wrong. That change left me with useless floppy disks. I probably still have some of them somewhere :)

I had a friend who was an awesome drummer and when drum machines arrived he refused to embrace the new tech saying all beats would become sterile and so he refused to learn how to program the bloody things. Drum machines and software beat machines and all that are all the rage now. They are part of the music scene for real. My friend was left by the wayside. He did regret not embracing that huge change though.

Hey, I'm sure you guys will find a way to incorporate the new iPhone into your workflows. On the way home today, I saw an article in London's Evening Standard that there has been a spike in people buying wireless headphones. So you see the beat goes on.

@Tim, when you do the new site, there'll be some folks who would say they prefer the old site. You can't win all the time. Keep up the good work and best of luck with the new site. I for one will welcome it if and when you do it. Peace.

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Medo

@Medo

The difference is those changes actually brought something beneficial to the table. Long before apple got rid of the floppy drive the advantages of other methods were already being used everywhere, just not widely for the home user. I.e. on college campuses floppy drives still existed but the majority were already using flash drives for everything because it made sense, and was a logical cost effective upgrade that brought many advantages with no downsides because the method to access that data was widely available on every device.

This in no way provides an advantage over anything that currently exists and is solely there to drive lock-in and profits. There already exists a wireless standard, and since these new headphones they are selling are backwards compatible I doubt they bring anything new to the table. If there were readily available 5$ BT headphones in every store like today with wired headphones, then maybe, and if they had 24hr battery life so charging wasnt an issue, then maybe. But now you have eliminated compatibility with millions of pre-existing devices, getting rid of the floppy drive did not really do that because it just required a one time transfer of data from floppy to new media and caused the loss of a few dollars in disks. Getting rid of an entire port causes the loss of use of headphones that cost many magnitudes of orders more.

Even then there is still a benefit to having a headphone port since it allows easy connection to any audio device you can think of. Want to plug it into your audio receiver, done, want to plug it into any mixer, done. Want to plug in other non-standard but useful devices like square, done. Now instead you need an easily lost and proprietary dongle to do any of that all while removing the charging ability while you do so.

If lightning was an openly available spec, like usb, so that it could be implemented on every device out there without license fees then I could see an argument, but once its locked behind proprietary specs and fees, then I see no advantage what so ever and it just points to greed

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Evan

And now this (re: Android)

Fixed Link

September 08, 2016  | person_outline Nonny Moose

I'm pretty sure Apple mixed-up the meaning of courage for arrogance.
* Apple would demonstrate courage if they would redesign iTunes from scratch and face the many compaints about lag, bad GUI, broken smart playlists, gapless play, lack of NAS integration etc.
* Arrogance shows when some bonus hungry Apple staff members ignores the complaints of millions of users trough decades and push their egocentric ideas for they are convinced to write history.

I doubt that consumers complained about their devices being too thick, not waterproof or overwhelmed by the many connection options.

So now I watch, with malicious pleasure, how Apple will pay €13 billion tax obligation to Ireland.

September 09, 2016  | person_outline Marcel

@Evan says "The difference is those changes actually brought something beneficial to the table" (in retrospect I might add)

My question is how do you know this is not going to be beneficial? When that floppy drive change occurred there was a massive output of anger and frustration etc if you had a computer then, you would remember that everyone said Apple was doomed including myself.

People love what they know. I get that. When Steve Jobs made that analogy of faster horses, he hit the nail on the head. People don't like change especially if they have to change the way they do things. This change will bring new stuff to the piece. I'm not being cynical but tech always changes. The master copiers Samsung will probably come up with their own take on this but that's another story. Each to their own.

Apple is Apple. They are always one step ahead of the curve. When the iPhone arrived, people greeted it with scorn and contempt. Remember Balmer of Microsoft? Now look at where we are. A whole lotta studios on the iPhone for example. If Apple had stuck to the Nokia model, you probably would still be making music on your 4 track rather than on your iPhone.

The ability for using your current headphones has not been taken away. You can still use them. This change will definitely irk some people and some of us are thinking bring it on. My audio technica M50X hasn't died. I will get to use it albeit with an extension cable. So what? We always have a choice in these things so some people will jump to android etc but that's their choice as well.

People are always cynical about Apple and their business model aka they will lock you into this or that.... Apple are there to make money as well you know. Their business model isn't a race to the bottom but that is their choice. You can buy their stuff or better still you can try to out innovate them. I've had an iPhone since iPhone 3 and it keeps getting better and better. If the iPhone 7 is not to your standards, you can always look for alternatives. Some of us will just plough on. I'm not a soothsayer but I know there's creatives out there chomping at the bit to jump onto this new technology and make innovations.

1998 - floppy disk
2005 - dial up modem
2008 - cd/DVD drive
2012 - 30 pin connector
2015 - usb 3 ports
2016 - headphones jack

I trust this company. It has inconvenienced me over the years but time and time again they have got it right. Not everyone will agree with my analysis but that's the beauty of life. We can agree to disagree.

The Apple upgrade program has arrived in the UK so here we go again. I'm looking at the 7plus. Might be expensive but my 6 16GB has been valued at £235 so there is hope. Peace.

September 09, 2016  | person_outline Medo

I can't plug an iPhone 7 into a mixer, an amp, or any other device that works with the headphone jack.

How is that in any way beneficial?

This is about more than just headphones.

September 09, 2016  | person_outline Bob

Can anyone show me reference class cdrom or floppy drives which cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a grand each? Then there's no comparison between Apple's "daring" moves of the past and this one. I could agree with an all-digital signal path for transferring audio to devices like mixers if that's all there was to it, but this is also dicking over people with investments in quality audiophile gear. It's just blindly following past patterns without thinking about if it's really appropriate or just different for the sake of being edgy.

And personally I've never liked the loss of ethernet ports on my computers either. It's not something I've been able to get over, nor am I likely to anytime soon. Copper and fiber are still more secure and dependable than wireless. There are damn good reasons for keeping choices open. But wireless is cool and hip with all the kiddies, so screw those of you who want options, says Apple.

But hey, it worked out fine all those other times despite the grumbling they caused, so obviously our gripes this time also hold no merit.

September 09, 2016  | person_outline Arrrghonaut

I'm not fond of analog connections anyway. The buzzing and thumping we have to protect our ears and speakers from... No loss to me. Of course, will the digital switching be silent?

This will shake out over the next few years and won't affect me until I buy a new device, and I don't see that happening soon. I'm not bothered. By the time it's my turn, there will be plenty of connectors. I also won't be using wireless audio probably ever. The obsession with wireless is not sustainable. There's only so much electromagnetic spectra and it's already a problem (USB3 causes interference with Bluetooth??).

There's already a connector announced by Logitech or someone with two lightning ports (one for audio and one for power/other connections). Everything is going to be fine.

I've watched connectors and storage devices change for decades now and it's always a catastrophe to somebody.

September 10, 2016  | person_outline dysamoria

Yeah, I know I'm late to the party. The entire 'headphones thing' for some reason, I find it difficult to care.

The iPhone 7 does have one rather 'big' feature that excites me, even though it has gotten very little press. And that is the DCI-P3 display. Which probably doesn't get mentioned because it's not one of those simple 25-words-or-less features like "no headphone jack".

Basically, the iPhone 7 (and the iPad Pro 9.7") can display a wider range of colors. This is a step forward on the path towards the full 4K spec. 4K is not just increased resolution; it's also 120fps and the Rec.2020 color gamut. It's a bit difficult to explain without pictures, but - we've been living happily for years with the Rec.709 color gamut, which you can think of as 8 bits Red, 8 bits Green, and 8 bits Blue. Rec.2020 will up that to 12 bits Red, 12 bits Green, and 12 bits Blue. Currently, no-one makes a Rec.2020 television - they're still trying to figure out how to do it - but everyone is confident that they'll get there. In the meantime, the DCI-P3 display is kinda "halfway" there - you can think of it as 10 bits each of Red, Green, and Blue.

I didn't see the actual Apple announcement, so I don't know if they even mentioned this. And, arguably, this has little to do with music. But as technical achievements go, this is actually pretty big. This is one of those things where a lot of seemingly minor stuff is going to have to change before we'll notice the impact - but the day will come when the GIFs and JPGs you've saved today will look kinda pale and old compared to tomorrow's 36 bits per pixel images.

(I don't have time to look this up, but I believe that JPG can be tweaked to store an arbitrary number of bits per pixel - but it's not common).

September 13, 2016  | person_outline Mister Pickle

@pickle that is interesting, maybe the first tablet/phone display to support HDR. BTW 10bit is very common, not even a halfway measure. The majority of 4k tvs out now support HDR10bit (early ones do not though) and LG and visio have both said all their 2016 4k tvs support dolby vision, which is the 12bit HDR (dolby vision decoders are also backwards compatible with the HDR10 standard)

We have been messing with some of these tvs and streams at work, do embedded software for a certain tv provider, and the difference between 8 and 10bit is very noticeable, so much so that you wouldnt want to go back to 8bit if you ever had the choice. The 4k olympics feed that went out this year to everyone originated from an NHK 8K 10bit feed btw

September 13, 2016  | person_outline Evan
September 28, 2016  | person_outline Nonny Moose

Thanks for pointing that out, Nonny! Excellent article.

Yup, thanks for posting that article Nonny. Covers a lot of the issues I've seen over the years.

I fought tooth and nail to keep Snow Leopard going but eventually I hit a critical mass of software that I'd paid good money for dropping support for it. Reluctantly I upgraded to Mavericks and ultimately settled on Yosemite. Here's hoping Sierra turns out good, but I have little faith in big fruit these days.

While I use Windows every day, I just don't want to go near it for music production. It just feels better on the Mac side.

September 29, 2016  | person_outline Bob
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