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On Friday morning, I will be upgrading my iPhone X to this years model but not primarily for any of the reasons presented on-stage during Apple’s special event – teased by the tag line “by innovation only”.

Whilst increased battery, enhanced camera electronics and advancements in computational photography AI were enough for me to invest in this years iPhone, over say a holiday, those upgrades are mainly evolutionary and don’t particularly change much about how we already use our devices today.

Glossed over during last weeks introduction of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro was the inclusion of a revolutionary Apple-designed chip called the U1. The U1 chip enables ultra-wideband (UWB) positioning, giving the new iPhones the ability to locate nearby objects with what Apple tellingly touts as “living room-scale GPS.”

Of course, whilst Apple likes to show off its chip designs for its new iPhones, the company also likes to stay tight lipped on future products and use-case scenarios for technologies that they’re not quite ready to show…

 
 

TIFF Talks have published a short Q&A with ‘Hala’ director Minhal Baig along with lead actress and TIFF ’19 Rising Star Geraldine Viswanathan following this evenings screening of the Apple TV+ exclusive at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Hala,’ a feature film and official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, follows a high school senior struggling to balance being a suburban teenager with her traditional Muslim upbringing.

The feature film was acquired by Apple earlier this year during its run at the Sundance Film Festival and will debut shortly after Apple TV+ launches on November 1st.

 
 

Apple have shared launch details for Apple Arcade. The game subscription service will bring a curated catalogue of diverse game experiences to iOS devices, Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K and Macs. The service has been shrouded in mystery since its unveil in March leaving our thumbs and forefingers to twitch with anticipation.

During the company’s keynote address at the Steve Jobs Theatre, Apple announced that Arcade would be available as part of each platforms forthcoming updates. Apple Arcade will initially launch on iOS devices on September 19th with tvOS and iPadOS following on September 30th and Mac OS Catalina scheduled for release in October. The subscription service tackles issues that have plagued the gaming industry and the App Store in recent times, offering complete gaming experiences free of advertising, add-ons and In App Purchases. 

Arcade will launch with a one month free trial, costing $4.99 per month for access to over 100 gaming experiences, exclusive to the service. Subscribers will be able to download any game from Arcade’s vast catalogue via its dedicated tab on the App Store, making every game available for offline play while forgoing the need for a persistent internet connection. In line with Apple’s other subscription services, Arcade subscribers can share their subscription with up to six family members through Apple’s Family Sharing feature, syncing progress between devices to each users Game Centre profile through iCloud.

Phil Schiller spoke of his excitement for Apple Arcade through Apple’s press release:

“We are so excited to launch Apple Arcade on the App Store. A curated selection of over 100 new and exclusive games from many of the most innovative game developers in the world is the perfect complement to the App Store’s existing massive catalog of games,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We think customers of all ages are going to be delighted that a single subscription gives the whole family unlimited access to the full catalog of amazing Apple Arcade games, all without any ads or additional purchases, while knowing every game must meet Apple’s high privacy standards.”

With many subscription services choice can often be a burden. To help, the dedicated Arcade tab will offer up personalised user recommendations along with trailers, sneak peaks, guides and editorials, expanding upon the App Store experience we know today. The hope is that this leads to better discoverability of new experiences along with recommendations better-suited to users favoured styles of play. 

Apple’s Ann My Thai took to the stage to detail Apple Arcade which will launch with the largest catalogue of games seen from a games subscription service launch.

Games confirmed by Apple to debut in time for Apple Arcade’s iOS launch on September 19th include:

Ballistic Baseball, ChuChu Rocket! Universe, Exit the Gungeon, Overland, PAC-MAN PARTY ROYALE, Projection: First Light, Rayman Mini, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Skate City, Sneaky Sasquatch, Steven Universe: Unleash the Light, Super Impossible Road, The Bradwell Conspiracy, The Enchanted World and Various Daylife.

More games are expected to be added on a weekly basis with highly anticipated titles including Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm – from Cornfox & Bros – arriving in the coming weeks as creative developers around the globe finalise their games for the service following years of dedicated craft. 

Apple’s embrace of artistic expression extends to another important art-form. Often put-down and purposefully misunderstood, gaming has had an overwhelmingly positive influence on our culture for decades. Once purely a means of escapism, it has transformed into much more than that. Offering diverse, inclusive storytelling and new ways to play.

Apple Arcade looks like the perfect platform to show off the very best of gaming and the perfect opportunity for people like me to dive back in. Put off by a big chunk of the games industry in recent years due to the predatory practices of some publishers, the promise of a safe place to play is what sets Apple Arcade apart from the crowd. My only wish is that the projected success of the service leads Apple to continue to optimise game performance across tvOS, iOS and iPadOS with a much needed re-focus on Mac.

 
 

Apple has shared launch details for its upcoming video subscription service, Apple TV+. The streaming service which launches on November 1st in over 100 countries will cost $4.99 per month following a 7 day free trial.

The company also announced that any purchase of an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or Apple TV would receive one years complimentary service going forward.

Whilst the selection of Apple TV+ Originals available at launch is limited, the early offerings do give an indication of the content we can expect from the video service going forward. With plentiful variety in terms of genre, audience appeal and suitability, the list of Apple TV+ launch titles includes: 

  • See
  • The Morning Show
  • Dickinson
  • For All Mankind
  • Helpsters
  • Snoopy in Space
  • Ghostwriter
  • The Elephant Queen
  • Unspecified Oprah Winfrey projects

Over the course of the last few months we’ve seen a number of trailers for some of the titles listed, with more expected over the coming days and weeks in the lead up to launch. Apple have also highlighted some of its other Originals in a press release, which the company said will be added in the coming months. Those titles include award winning film ‘Hala’ currently doing the rounds at TIFF, M. Night Shyamalan’s limited series ’Servant’ and crime drama ’Truth Be Told’ which stars Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul and is expected to debut in December.

You can already add the Apple Originals to your Up Next queue within the TV app in preparation. Most Apple Original series will debut three episodes at launch with new episodes made available to subscribers on a weekly basis. Some series however, will be bingeable on day one ala Netflix.

Apple TV+ will be available wherever the TV app can be found. That includes iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs (including 3rd Generation) and select third party streaming devices and Smart TVs. Come launch time, you will also be able to get your fix of Apple TV+ content through your Safari, Chrome or FireFox web browser by signing into the web app at tv.apple.com.

With Apple TV+ living inside the TV app, naturally the service gets the same privileges seen by other Channels such as HBO and MUBI, making for an enhanced user friendly experience. Those privileges include offline downloads on iOS, easy subscription management through your Apple ID, Picture in Picture on compatible devices and the ability to share your subscription with up to 6 family members through Family Sharing at no additional cost.

Apple’s ambitious global launch of TV+ in over 100 countries will also see its original content dubbed in close to 40 languages. Along with subtitle support for the Death and Hard-of-Hearing (SDH) or closed captions, Apple TV+ series and movies will also see audio descriptions made available in eight languages.

Since it’s unveil in March, Apple TV+ has been shrouded in secrecy. After six months of little more than teaser trailers and entertainment gossip columns to clasp at, it feels good to finally get some detail about the services launch.

Whilst the streaming wars take shape, its interesting to see Apple focus on quality over quantity whilst Disney+ and HBO Max look to leverage their IP and vast catalogues. Apple’s advantage could very well be the fact that in order to compete the company has to curate its catalogue from scratch.

If the content matches its ambitions theres no reason Apple TV+ couldn’t emulate HBO in the 90s and 00s whilst earning similar critical acclaim. Of course, time will tell if Apple TV+ will be a success in the long run but Oprah makes a good point about one key advantage, “They’re in a Billion pockets yall!.”

 
 

After much talk about its purported $15 million per-episode budget, Apple finally shared the first trailer for its original sci-fi fantasy drama ‘See’. Introduced onstage by Tim Cook at the company’s special September event at the Steve Jobs Theatre, the two minute teaser sets up the show with stunning visuals and an intriguing high-concept plot.

The Francis Lawrence directed project – shot in British Columbia – is set in a dystopian future where sight is nothing more than a fable after survivors emerge blind following a virus they believe to be part punishment from God.

“In the far future, a virus has decimated humankind. Those who survived emerged blind. Jason Momoa stars as Baba Voss, the father of twins born centuries later with the mythic ability to see—who must protect his tribe against a powerful yet desperate queen who believes it’s witchcraft and wants them destroyed. Alfre Woodard also stars as Paris, Baba Voss’ spiritual leader.”

’See’ will be available through the Apple TV app when Apple TV+ launches in over 100 countries on November 1st.

The Apple original – which has been rated for mature audiences – will premier its first three episodes at launch with the remaining seven episodes releasing to subscribers on a weekly basis.

Apple TV+ will cost $4.99 per month following a seven day free trial with eligible iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV purchases including one full year of complimentary service upon activation.

‘See’ is the sixth Apple TV+ trailer to release having been viewed over 2 million views on YouTube alone in less than 24 hours since its debut.

 
 

Following yesterdays industry screening at TIFF, Variety reports that Apple have acquired the rights to documentary ‘Dads’ for its upcoming streaming service. The documentary sees actress Bryce Dallas Howard’s directorial debut with Bryce Dallas Howard’s father, Ron Howard handling producer duties.

In partnership with the Promundo Institute – the documentary explores contemporary fatherhood through testimonies and wisdom from famous funny men including Judd Apatow, Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, and more. ‘Dads’ combines those antidotes with portraits of non-celebrity dads from around the world – including Brazil, Japan and the United States.

Apple’s acquisition of ‘Dads’ is part of its deal with Imagine Documentaries. The partnership will see Imagine Documentaries films premier on Apple TV+ alongside limited theatrical runs.

Attendees of the Toronto International Film Festival will have further opportunities to see the documentary this week. Further screenings for the Apple original documentary are set for Sat 7th at 12:30pm and Fri Sep 13th at 9:45am.

After the September 6th screening of ‘Dads’ during TIFF, Bryce Dallas Howard took part in a short Q&A which is detailed after the jump.