Live From the iPhone 5 Launch

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11:48 Dave Grohl, before playing “My Hero,” hit just the right chord with his intro in talking about meeting people around Apple. “You realize that they’re just people that have taken it upon themselves to change the world. And then you meet them, and you realize they’re just flesh and blood — they’re just people. And that’s incredibly inspiring.”

Nicely put. Sounds like something Steve Jobs would have said.

That’s it for the live blog. Thanks for sticking with us. Until next time.

11:42 Cook is about to introduce the musical guest. Suddenly, I’m very psyched about the iPod/iTunes portion of the show. Who’s it going to be? Drum roll … Foo Fighters.

11:40  Cook is reviewing the news of the day. They’re all great products, he says, “but what puts Apple way out in front of the competition is how well they all work together …. Apple has never been stronger, and that’s because of the dedication and creativity of our employees around the world …. They are doing the best work of their lives, doing work that has real significance.”

11:39   Cook is back on stage, and shows a new iPod TV ad, with dancing iPods jumping around. Very reminiscent of the early iPad ads.

11:33 Okay, here’s a “one more thing,” sort of, that I didn’t expect. Apple has worked for three years on new headphones it’s calling EarPods. Jony Ive is back, via another video, to describe why the sound is better and why the new design will be more comfortable to more people’s ears.

They will come with the new iPod Touch, Nano and iPhone 5.

By the way, the pricing strategy is pretty much holding to Apple’s time-tested formula: price points for the new products are the same as the prices of the products they replaced. Older models go down from there.

11:27 iPod Touch is getting a new 5-megapixel camera, with “significantly improved” ability to take pictures in dark and light conditions.

On the back of the device is a little button that pops out so you can attach a loop. Smart move. Fewer dropped iPod Touches, fewer visits to the Genius Bar.

The device supports Airplay, so I can play games from an iPod Touch on a big-screen TV. Or my son could, anyway. There are also new colors — a first for the iPod Touch.

As for the iPod Shuffle, there are no changes, except for colors that match those of the other new iPods.

11:21 There’s a new iPod Touch (“The best iPod Touch we’ve ever made.” Yes, he said it again.) It’s the thinnest one ever, and only 88 grams. Guess I was wrong in my post about the possibility that they’d retire the iPod Touch brand and reposition this gizmo as a “nano-iPad.” Maybe Apple doesn’t want to do that, because they’d have to reduce the price for it to fit into an iPad lineup that come October should include a new 7-inch mid-size model.

A developer is showing off a next-generation “interactive toy” called “Clumsy Ninja.” It’s based on real-time simulation of his “muscles” — so if you lift his arm, he will be aware that someone is lifting his arm. Tickle him too much, he runs behind a tree. And he can learn. The more he punches a punching bag, the better he gets at it. Cute to look at; pretty amazing technology.

11:16 Here comes the seventh-generation iPad nano. Guess what? “It’s the best Nano we’ve ever made,” he says. That’s become boiler plate lingo. It’s the thinnest Nano, but has a bigger volume button (yes!), with a larger 2.5-inch screen. It has an iPhone-like button, so you can always get back to the home screen. Very bright, sunny, somewhat pastel-y colors, including purple and yellow. It’s got a pedometer built in — no need to buy any accessories from Nike. It also has integrated Bluetooth, so you can listen via wireless headphones or in the car. They’ve increased battery life to 30 hours of music playback.

11:11  More iTunes changes, including a miniplayer and an “UpNext” feature so you can see what’s queued up. Since iCloud is built into iTunes, your music and movies will be easier to find.

I must say, this seems like a bit of a come-down from the excitement of the iPhone 5. Here comes Greg Jowswiak, to talk about new iPods. Nothing like hardware to get the crowd going. He says Apple has sold more than 350 million iPods, but is making changes to the line.

11:06 iCloud is getting a facelift. Jeff Robin is brought on stage for a demo. Again, it’s looking like pretty cosmetic changes to me — though I admit I haven’t purchased from a download store for many years. Pandora and Spotify suit me just fine.

11:03  Cue says iTunes store is available in 63 countries, and has 435 million iTunes accounts with one-click purchasing. Got that, Amazon? Remarkably, he says 66% of downloads are via mobile devices, so they’ve revamped the store for these form factors.

So far, it doesn’t look that radical a change. Definitely a different look, and there’s Facebook integration so you can “like” a song. He’s chatting up the fact that you can now keep browsing while playing a 90-second preview of a song. No big whoop.

11:02 Cook is back on stage. And he’s got a “one more thing” (though he didn’t say it that way). It has to do with music — “exciting changes with both iPod and iTunes.” He intros Eddy Cue.

10:59 The pricing: The iPhone 5 will cost the same as the iPhone 4S does today.

“The best phones at every price point,” says Schiller. The iPhone 5 will ship on September 21 in seven countries, and 21 more countries by the end of the month and 100 countries by the end of the year via 240 carriers. Fastest launch ever. This ability to blitzkrieg the entire planet with millions of devices in a matter of weeks is truly impressive.

10:57 Still in the video, Ive is talking about the advanced manufacturing process, including polishing that leaves “an almost mirror-like” surface of the aluminum. It’s constructed out of just a few components that are carefully cut, but still end up slightly different. They then go through a painstaking process using machine vision technology to match these pieces so they fit together as perfectly as possible. The tolerances — factory-speak for gaps — between parts are “measured in microns.”

10:52 OK, it’s back to the videotape. They’re showing a “Making of iPhone”-style video, as they have at most of these events to reiterate what they want people to know about what went into whatever new product they’re unveiling. This one starts with Jony Ive, Apple’s lead designer. It’s a clever way to get Ive — very likely Apple’s No. 1 rock star after Steve Jobs’s passing — into the presentation. Too bad Ive doesn’t enjoy the limelight more: I’d love to hear from him live and in person.

10:50 He quickly wraps up, with a quick mention of how Facetime is now available via 4G cellular networks. No word on how many carriers are going to actually let you do this, or how much they’ll charge.

10:46 Forstall is cranking through the main features. Passbook, how to share Photo Streams, posting photos from Twitter, using Siri to ask if the 49ers won or to get the latest standings, and how to use your voice to launch an app — no big news I can see from what they promised when they talked about iOS6 in June.

I don’t mean to downplay this. Forstall is showing how Siri can recommend a movie, or find a nearby sushi restaurant for 8:00 (and then bring up a map showing the choices, and integration wth OpenTable to grab the table). He’s showing how easy it is to post the plan as a status update to Facebook. Is Mr. Zuckerberg waiting stage left? This would be the time.

10:39 IOS6 takes the stage now. Here comes Scott Forstall. He’s showing the integrated wizardry it enables to get you where you’re going– better maps, access to information on millions of businesses  and other destinations, and turn-by-turn navigation (with Ms. Siri telling you which way to turn next.). Now, he’s showing beautiful new 3D “fly-over” mapping. Eye-candy, to be sure….but pretty yummy eye-candy.

10:38 The new mini-connecter, called “Lightning,” is the connector “for the next decade.” It’s 80% smaller — “a huge difference for the world’s thinnest smart phone.”

10:35 The iPhone 5 has three microphones, which will help with locating where a  voice is coming from, and improvements in noise cancellation. Also, “wideband audio.” He’s showing charts of the frequencies that most phones capture when people are speaking. This technology expands the range of frequencies the phone can capture, so voices over the phone sound more like the real thing.

10:32 Schiller — who clearly loves photography, given his passion when talking about this topic — is talking about the new camera. Lots of stuff for serious shutterbugs. I liked the fact that it can take photos 40% more quickly. You can take photos while shooting video, and it will ID up to ten people in a clip using face detection.

10:29 Battery life is decent, given the needs of LTE network. The device will get eight hours of LTE browsing.

10:25 On to the demos. A game producer from EA is here to show off games.

10:24  And the electronics? The new A6 chip has twice the performance of the A5. It’s 1.7 times faster at saving an iPhoto app and 1.9 times faster at loading music, he says.

10:21 On to the networking. They’ve added LTE, on top of various 3G flavors. All on a single chip and a single radio, with what he calls a “dynamic antenna” to work best with whichever network is available.

“As you may know, LTE is probably the most complicated network ever brought to this world.” So who are they relying on? Partners include ATT, Verizon, Spring, Singtel, Telstra, Virgin Mobile, Deutsche Telecom, Rogers and a few I missed.

10:20  There’s “integrated touch” that makes this “the most advanced screen” on the market. (I missed the details. Sorry.)

10:17  Bigger screen shows off all of their apps, and lets them put more app icons on the home screen. Significantly, app developers will not need to upgrade their apps for this bigger screen. That’s a big, big deal. One more sign of the attention to detail that makes iOS such a great platform for developers to work with. One more reason so many developers are making lots of money on iOS. I have seriously never heard a developer talk about all the money they make on Android. If you know of any, let me know.

10:14 Here’s some specs. It’s just 7.6 mm thin, 18% thinner than the 4S. And it’s 112 grams, or 20% lighter.

10:13  Up comes the iPhone 5, coming up from the stage on a tiny pedastal. “It’s like a jewel.” And of course, “it’s the most beautiful product we have ever done.”

10:12  ”Today, we’re taking it to the next level,” says Cook, who introduces Phil Schiller to introduce the new iPhone. “Boy, isn’t it nice to stand up here and see all these Apple logos on all of these Apple products,” Phil says. By the way, when’s the last time an Apple presenter did not where jeans? Ever?

10:10  There are now more than 700,000 apps in the App Store. Pace of change isn’t ‘rising much, though iPad apps have topped 250,000. He points out that 90% of apps are downloaded every month, however.

10:05  Apple’s notebooks are now No. 1 in market share, with 27% market share. And it’s nothing new — the Mac has outgrown Wintel for six years, Cook says. On the iPad, he reiterates the record of 17 million sold last quarter. “We sold more iPads than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC line. Yes, we are in a post-PC world.” That’s 84 million units to date — “absolutely shocking” for a 2.5 year old category.

Nothing new about this portion of the talk. Despite hundreds of rival tablets, iPads’ share rose to 68% in the past year — and 91% of the Web traffic. “I don’t know what these other tablets are doing!” (Big laugh).

10:04. Apple will open a store in its 13th country this Friday. Retail’s doing great … moving on.

Now it’s on to the Mac update. Cook says there’s been seven million downloads of Mountain Lion, the best launch of a new OS ever (as they usually are; after all, the installed base keeps going up).

10:02  The first video, to show happy scenes at Apple retail stores. Setting the mood, I guess.

10:00  Ok, here we go. Cook takes the stage, much applause. Al Gore, Apple director, is in the house, by the way.

9:45 a.m. I’m here at Moscone West for Apple’s latest launch of the century. The company has all but admitted we’ll see a new iPhone 5. I’ve been to dozens of these events in seventeen years of covering the company, and the bar for Apple to live up to expectations just keeps getting higher. If they don’t sell 50 million – 50 million – iPhone 5s by New Year’s, the device might be deemed a disappointment, at least on Wall Street.

Of course, we in the huge press corps in attendance are chattering about whether there will be any other surprises. Will we hear anything about that mini-iPad ? (My guess is no: save that for closer to Thanksgiving.) We’ve reported that a new TV product — if it even exists — isn’t likely until next year. But who knows.  My bet is Mark Zuckerberg will make a cameo appearance. Yesterday, he made it clear Facebook doesn’t plan to make a phone of its own. What a good time to come plug the new Facebook integration in iOS 6, which also gets officially launched today.

Stay tuned and please refresh your browser every few minutes to see my updates.

 

 

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