Apple Unveils iPhone 7 And 2nd Version Of Watch

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) –  Apple’s iPhone is getting an updated home button and will come with water and dust protection.

Apple says the iPhone 7 is now force sensitive, so responses can differ based on how hard you press the home button. It’s similar to what Apple has done with a trackpad in a slimmer MacBook model last year.

Apple says it’s upgrading the camera and flash components for the new iPhone 7, and it’s making an even bigger change in the iPhone 7 Plus.

The larger model will come with two digital camera lenses. One will be for regular shots and the other will have telephoto capabilities, giving you a two-fold zoom. Smartphones typically have resorted to software tricks for zooms, resulting in fuzzy images when blown up.

Both lenses will take photos at 12 megapixels.

The two lenses will also sense depth and allow users to blur backgrounds in images, mimicking an effect that typically requires changing the lens aperture in stand-alone cameras.

Other smartphone makers including LG and Motorola are also starting to offer models with dual lenses to improve picture quality. While many consumers likely feel their current phone cameras are “good enough,” analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research says the extra capabilities may appeal to millions of people who like to post photos on social media, in the hope of impressing friends and earning “likes” for their posts.

Dawson says the new smartphone cameras still don’t match the capabilities of SLR cameras, but they offer improvements that may appeal to the “vanity” of social media users.

Other camera improvements include a new flash with four rather than two shades of color to match ambient light. High-end photographers can get images in RAW format, which allows for more versatile editing, matching what many leading cameras now have.

The iPhone 7s are getting more storage.

With people storing more photos and video on their phones, Apple is joining rival phone makers in making the starter model 32 gigabytes, rather than 16 gigabytes before. The main iPhone is still priced at $650. The larger Plus model is increasing to $770, instead of $750.

Apple is doubling storage in higher-priced models, too – to 128 and 256 gigabytes.

The new phones will ship Sept. 16, with orders to start this Friday.

The new phones are getting faster processors, water resistance, better cameras and more colorful screens, while losing a traditional headphone jack in favor of wireless headphones and those that use the Lightning charging port. Apple also says the iPhone 7 will have better battery life – about one or two hours more from recent models.

Older iPhones will get price reductions, and last year’s models are also getting double the storage.

Meanwhile, Apple says its new wireless headphones will ship in late October for $160.

Those who aren’t getting a new iPhone will still see improvements with a new mobile operating system called iOS 10.

Among other things, the software will add more intelligence to Apple services like Maps, Photos, the iPhone keyboard and Siri, the voice-activated digital assistant. There’s a new Home app to control appliances.

In a big change for Apple, the company is also opening Siri and its iMessage service to work with apps created by independent developers. Siri will be able to send message to a contact on LinkedIn, the professional social network being bought by Microsoft, or to a friend on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service. Siri can also send money with the Square Cash service or search for pictures on Pinterest.

Apple is also allowing developers to build apps for iMessage, although the options so far appear to be mostly sending payments or ordering food. It’s also adding bigger emoji and other visual effects for iMessage, including what it calls “Invisible Ink,” which blurs an image in a message until a recipient swipes a finger across the screen.

A new version of Apple’s smartwatch will come with GPS tracking for more accurate workouts and enough water resistance to swim with it, although the company didn’t mention anything about its expected battery life.

Although the first Apple Watch can tap the GPS on a companion phone, that means carrying the phone with you as you hike or run. GPS isn’t common in smartwatches, though the upcoming Samsung Gear S3 will also get GPS.

The previous Apple Watch model is resistant to splashes, but not extensive use in water.

Apple says one of the engineering challenges has been sealing the speaker port, which needs air to work. The company said it designed the speaker to eject water after workouts. Fitbit has one swim-proof model and Garmin has a few, but the capability isn’t common.

The Apple Watch update was announced 17 months after the first model came out. The “Series 2” watch will also get a faster processor and a brighter display for outdoor use.

New styles include a case made of ceramic and a run-centric design made in collaboration with Nike.

The original model is getting a price cut, to $269 from $300, and will get a faster processor. The Series 2 Apple Watch will start at $369. The updates are coming Sept. 16. Existing watches can get new software on Sept. 13.

“Pokemon Go” is coming to the Apple Watch.

John Hanke, CEO of “Pokemon” creator Niantic Labs, says the idea is to allow you to focus more on your surroundings and not the phone while playing. It’s coming later this year.

Hanke says the game has been downloaded more than 500 million times, and people playing have collectively walked 4.6 billion kilometers (2.9 billion miles).

Hanke said, “It’s certainly been a busy summer for us.”

He announced the watch app at an Apple event in San Francisco on Wednesday. CEO Tim Cook joked that the watch app might let him finally break out of Level 2.

Earlier, Apple announced that the Mario video game is coming to iPhones.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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