What Apple didn’t announce at By Innovation Only
There can be no denying that Apple’s By Innovation Only event on 10 September was packed full of rapid-fire announcements. We got a new 10.2″ iPad, Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 11, and iPhone 11 Pro (in two sizes), along with pricing and release details for Apple Arcade and Apple TV+.
That’s a busy morning. But we didn’t get everything we expected or hoped for. The rumor mill was abuzz with lots of leaks leading up to the event, and it painted a picture that, as usual, didn’t quite match reality. Here are some of the things we heard about and hoped to see, but didn’t.
The most obvious omission (if you can call it that) was Apple’s Tile-like trackers, which most have taken to calling Apple Tags. There were multiple rumours – from reliable sources, no less – of their existence prior to the event, with some even claiming references to them in internal iOS 13 software builds.
The tags would supposedly use Bluetooth and/or Ultra WideBand (UWB) technology to allow you to find objects in the Find My app, including an AR mode.
We still think these are coming, maybe even this year, and they just weren’t ready to be revealed yet. If Apple has an event in October, we could see them there. Otherwise, we might see them in a spring event (typically held in March).
As expected, all iPhone 11 models come with a new super wide-angle rear camera. Prior to the event, it was rumoured that a feature called Smart Frame would use that camera to capture some additional imagery around regular-angle shots, which we could then use to re-frame our photos after they were taken.
There wasn’t a single word about a feature like this on stage, and it’s nowhere to be found on Apple’s iPhone 11 promo sites.
Bi-directional wireless charging
Part of the Qi wireless charging standard is support for an option “bi-directional” wireless charging feature. So not only could your phone be charged wireless, but it could serve as a wireless charger for other devices.
In other words, you could place AirPods (inside their wireless charging case) or another iPhone on the back of your new iPhone 11 to wirelessly charge them.
Apple even reportedly moved the Apple logo down to the center of the back of the iPhone 11 to make it clearer exactly where devices should be placed to charge.
But this feature seems to have been scrapped at the last minute. Apple made no mention of it, it’s not on the Apple site, and it’s not even rumoured for a future software update. The logo did get moved down to the centre of the back of the iPhone 11, though.
Apple Pencil support
We always thought the rumour that the new iPhone 11 Pro would support the Apple Pencil (or that the company would even make a smaller one just for it) was sketchy at best.
Sure enough, the new iPhones don’t support the Apple Pencil.
Sleep tracking on Apple Watch
We’ve also heard reliable rumors, backed up by some early internal code references, about sleep tracking coming to Apple Watch. Perhaps that will land in a future software update, but it’s not being promoted as a core feature of the Apple Watch Series 5, nor of iOS 13 or watchOS 6.
128Gb starting storage for iPhone 11 Pro
Some tipsters led us to believe that the iPhone 11 Pro’s base model would have 128Gb of storage, up from the 64GB storage of the iPhone XS. That didn’t happen – the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max all come with 64Gb of storage to start, with upgrades available.
The ‘Rose’ sensor co-processor
A late iPhone 11 rumor stated that a new sensor co-processor, codenamed ‘Rose’ or ‘R1,’ will handle processing for many more types of sensors, including Ultra-Wideband radio and even camera motion tracking.
There was no mention of it, and it’s not called out in Apple’s specs at all. The page does make mention of a new U1 chip that enables UWB support, which can be used to precisely position and orient the iPhone 11 in relation to other UWB devices. But that’s not quite the same thing.
Maybe “Rose” is a part of the iPhone 11, and is simply not specified by Apple. The company did make mention of M-series motion co-processors when they were new, but hasn’t called them out in the last few years.
A smaller notch
Lots of early rumours claimed that the TrueDepth module that houses the Face ID hardware and front-facing cameras would shrink by a significant margin on the new iPhones.
While Face ID is now claimed to work at a wider angle than before, the actual notch that contains the TrueDepth hardware looks to be about the same size as before.
An upgraded Apple TV
A rumour circulated shortly before the event claimed that Apple had new Apple TV hardware on the way, with an upgrade to the A12 processor. It wasn’t a shoo-in for this event, but would have gone well with the release date and pricing announcements for both Apple Arcade and Apple TV+.
An updated Apple TV makes sense, but everyone agrees that the product needs a redesigned remote far more than a more powerful processor. Perhaps there will be more about a new Apple TV device during an October event, still before the launch of the first Apple TV+ shows on 1 November.
Maybe it has been shelved until next year. Or maybe, with the TV app available on smart TVs and much broader AirPlay 2 support, Apple doesn’t necessarily see a need to update the Apple TV hardware just yet.
IDG News Service