Power

Webcams and battery life: What mattered at Apple's latest event

Small hardware upgrades, big signals about the future.

The Apple iPhone 13

The iPhone 13 will surely be Apple's best-selling new device, but it's not the most interesting one.

Photo: Apple

Apple launched some new things! The iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Pro, the Apple Watch Series 7, the new iPad, some new accessories, meditation videos! Not exactly Apple's most earth-shattering event, but lots of upgrades nonetheless.

Apple events are a useful indicator of what the company cares about. And this time, there were a few recurring themes:

  • Privacy. Even as Apple devices continue to get more sensors, more AI and more potentially creepy insight into your life, Apple's pressing hard on the idea that it is the company that cares about your privacy. Keeping users' trust is crucial to Apple, and as we've seen with things like the recent CSAM kerfuffle, it's only going to get harder to do.
  • The environment. Apple always includes a slide and pays lip service to how recyclable and sustainable its products are, but the issue was unusually front and center this time. (Though if you read the fine print, Apple's still got some work to do.)
  • Webcams. Obviously cameras are important to Apple and got a lot of stage time during the event, but the front-facing models have gotten a lot more attention over the last year or so. One of the biggest selling points of the new iPad, for instance? A webcam meant specifically for virtual school and meetings.
  • Fitness+. Other than the iPhones, nothing seemed to get more screen time than Fitness+. Apple clearly sees the service as the perfect selling point for its watch, and is investing in it in a big way. Jay Blahnik, Apple's head of fitness, is a name you're going to want to know.
  • Battery life. Study after study shows that the No. 1 thing people want from their devices is longer battery life, and Apple noted a number of times that it's increasing battery life.

This year's hardware upgrades were relatively minor, all things considered. (The only device that was meaningfully changed was the iPad Mini, which I'm personally very excited about.) Apple seemed to know it, too: It led with an update on Apple TV+ and spent most of its time talking about use cases and services rather than its traditional deep-dives on new technology.

  • Apple has been slowly, subtly downplaying the importance of hardware for the last few years, as the incremental upgrades on iPads and iPhones have shrunk. But that's just a sign of the times. When there is a new upgrade to shout about — the M1 chips on the newest Macs, or whenever those Apple Glasses come out — Apple's still happy to spout specs.

In general, Apple came off as the same ultra-confident, peak-of-its-powers company it always does in these infomercial events. There was no mention of the internal unrest that is gripping the company, or the ongoing battle with Epic and other developers, or the overall antitrust action against the company. It's easy to forget when watching these events that it's anything other than a beloved hardware company with a really impressive marketing team. Which is exactly the point.

Keep an eye on Apple's ship dates, too. iPhone 13 preorders start Friday and ship next week, but it'll be interesting to see how far into the future those ship dates slip. As for the Watch, Apple said only that it's coming "later this fall." Apple is unmatched in its logistical capabilities, but the chip shortage comes for everyone.

A version of this story will run in tomorrow's Source Code newsletter. Sign up here.

Protocol | Enterprise

How Cloudflare thinks it can become ‘the fourth major public cloud’

With its new low-cost R2 cloud storage service, Cloudflare is jumping into direct competition with the AWS service that launched the cloud computing revolution.

Cloudflare will not charge data-egress fees for customers using R2, taking direct aim at the fees AWS charges developers to move data out of its widely popular S3 storage service.

Photo: Martina Albertazzi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cloudflare is ready to launch a new cloud object storage service that promises to be cheaper than the established alternatives, a step the company believes will catapult it into direct competition with AWS and other cloud providers.

The service will be called R2 — "one less than S3," quipped Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince in an interview with Protocol ahead of Cloudflare's announcement Tuesday morning. Cloudflare will not charge data-egress fees for customers using R2, taking direct aim at the fees AWS charges developers to move data out of its widely popular S3 storage service.

Keep Reading Show less
Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is Protocol's enterprise editor, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire, and served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure.

The pandemic won't be over until the economy recovers. While cities, states and regions across the U.S. are grappling with new variants, shifting mask policies and other factors that directly impact businesses large and small, it is nevertheless time for brands and enterprises to jumpstart COVID-19 recovery strategies.

Data will undoubtedly be critical to such strategies, but there is one type of data in particular that is poised to yield greater impact than ever in the COVID-19 Recovery Era: location data.

Keep Reading Show less
Michele Morelli, Foursquare
As SVP of Marketing, Michele is responsible for overseeing the brand strategy, communications, and product and performance marketing of Foursquare’s apps and enterprise products. Prior to joining Foursquare, Michele held several senior leadership positions with wide-ranging responsibilities at AOL, Toluna, Citibank and Yahoo!.
Power

VR pioneer The Void is plotting a comeback

Assets of the location-based VR startup have been acquired by a former investor, who plans a relaunch with key former team members.

The Void's New York outpost closed during the pandemic. Now, the company is planning a comeback under new ownership.

Photo: The Void

Location-based VR pioneer The Void may rise from the ashes next year: A former investor has acquired key assets of the defunct startup and is now looking to relaunch it with key team members, Protocol has learned. The company is said to be actively fundraising, and is getting ready to start hiring additional talent soon.

The Void's patents and trademarks were recently acquired by Hyper Reality Partners, a company headed by former OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel, who also used to be an investor in and board member of The Void. Hyper Reality Partners is actively fundraising for a relaunch of the VR startup, and is said to have raised as much as $20 million already, according to an industry insider.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Protocol | Workplace

A new McKinsey study shows that women do more emotional labor at work

The 2021 Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey found that women are far more likely than men to help their teams manage time and work-life balance and provide emotional support.

Senior leaders who identify as women were 60% more likely to provide emotional support to their teams and 26% more likely to help team members navigate work/life challenges, according to the report.

Photo: Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

Over the last year, emotional support, time management skills and work-life balance have become drastically more important and difficult in the workplace — and women leaders were far more likely than men to step in and do that work for their teams, according to the latest iteration of McKinsey and LeanIn.org's annual Women in the Workplace report.

Senior leaders who identify as women were 60% more likely to provide emotional support to their teams, 24% more likely to ensure their teams' workload is manageable and 26% more likely to help team members navigate work/life challenges, according to the report. In addition, about one in five women senior leaders spend a substantial amount of time on DEI work that is not central to their job, compared to less than one in 10 male senior leaders.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Amazon needs New World’s launch to be a success

New World arrives Tuesday. Whether it flops could determine the future of Amazon Games.

New World launches on Tuesday, after four delays. It could be Amazon's first big hit.

Image: Amazon

Amazon's New World launches on Tuesday, marking the end of a long and bumpy road to release day for the company's most pivotal video game release to date. There's a lot riding on New World, a massively multiplayer online game in the vein of iconic successes like Blizzard's long-running World of Warcraft and Square Enix's immensely popular Final Fantasy XIV.

If the game succeeds, New World will mark a rare success for a technology company in the gaming space. With the exception of Microsoft, which entered the console game industry nearly two decades ago, tech firms have tried time and again to use their engineering talent and resources to crack the code behind making successful video games. Almost every attempt has failed, but Amazon is the closest to having a hit on its hands. If it flops, we could see Amazon's gaming ambitions go the way of Google's.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.
Latest Stories