The venue
Photo: PED
By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 9, 2015
Photo: Jason Cipriani

“Huge morning for us,” said Tim Cook at the end, and he wasn’t exaggerating. It turned out to be a four-ring circus: New Hermes Watches. New iPads. New Apple TV. New iPhones.

We were skeptical that Apple could pack that much into one two-hour show, but they did it. Or nearly so.

And, at 12:20 p.m. PDT, that’s a wrap.


Live blog:

12:05 p.m. Cook introduces the musical guest: One Republic. (Not Taylor Swift, alas.) But a cool (and probably expensive) stage that rolls out from behind the screen. A classic Apple throw-away touch.

Hey, these guys are tight!

12:01 p.m. Cook is back on stage to show off the new iPhone ad, which leads with 3D touch. It’s a good ad; it doesn’t just demo the new features, it shows you how to use them.

11:58 a.m. Prices are as expected.New phones at old price points. $100 off last year’s phones. iPhone upgrade program gives you a new phone every year. Starts at $32/mos. Pre-order Sat. Sept. 12, available Sept. 25 in 12 countries, 130 countries by end of year. iOS 9 available Sept. 16. A pretty aggressive roll-out.

11:53 a.m. Live Photos is a surprise and a little odd. Press on a still photo and they turn into videos. By default the phone takes 1/2 a second before and after the photo you meant to take. Facebook will support “this year.” LTE now twice as fast, says Schiller. Wifi also doubled, he says. Transfer apps from Android is a poke in Google’s eye. Schiller makes a joke out of the enviro boilerplate.

11:43 a.m. The fact that “Hey Siri” is now always on (not just when plugged in) is excellent. 12MP camera is as rumored. “Deep trench isolation” is something I didn’t have to know about. The professional photos are quite impressive, especially since if they are really are un-retouched.

Photo: Jason Cipriani

11:40 a.m. The first-person shooter demo of FreeBlade—with killer robots and hundreds of explodable objects—in every parent’s nightmare.

11:34 a.m. Craig Federighi does the demo. Cue the jokes. “Emergency selfie” is pretty funny. The main advantage seems to be to use apps without opening them or leaving the app you were using. My question is the same with all the force-touch features: how do we learn what’s possible, since it’s not immediately apparent looking at the screen.

Photo: Jason Cipriani

11:27 a.m. Schiller is back, starting with the rose gold finish and the new aluminum. The names, sizes are as rumored. Pitching “3D Touch” (kudos Mark Gurman) as an extension of Multi-Touch. Cue the video, with Jony Ive (again!). This press, press harder is going to take some getting used to. Video suggests that the screen actually bends. Mini-tap and full tap get different length taptic feedbacks. Peek and Pop. This is already confusing me, but maybe I’ll get used to it.

11:23 a.m. Cook is back to talk about iPhone. The iPhone growth in China vis a vis the rest of the market makes a great chart. The claim that iPhone is the most popular phone in the world is a head-scratcher, given Android’s sales. Cue the video. “The only thing that has changed is everything.” Color me skeptical. This is a tock year, right?

11:22 a.m. The specs for the TV were as rumored.

Photo: Jason Cipriani

11:18 a.m. The guy also in jeans. Not as faded as the doctor’s. John Gruber, sitting behind me, likes the live stats running beneath the game.

11:16 a.m. Shopping from home for a Peter Pan collar doesn’t do much for me.

11:07 a.m. Eddy Cue introduces tvOS with one of those screens that shows developers the buzzwords only they understand. Rattles off some of the games coming to the TV, mostly second tier games. Crossy Road demo. This is a 3D update of Frogger, which must be 30 years old. Big laughs when cooperative play devolves into fist fights. The game where you swing the controller to hit a ball looks like something even I could master.

Photo: Jason Cipriani

11:00 a.m. Great demo: “Show me the Modern Family episode with Edward Norton.” “Skip ahead 7 minutes” “What did she just say?” (Sends you back 15 seconds.) This is looking like a winner. Eddy Cue is looking quite pleased with himself.

10:57 a.m. There was a lot going on in that demo! It’s going to take some unpacking. Eddy Cue takes the stage. Starts with remote. Touch (glide through options). Voice (show me funny television shows). Universal search is as promised. This is huge, IMHO, although for starters just Netflix, Hulu, HBO and one more I missed.

10:52 a.m. Cook is back to talk TV. “It really is the golden age of television.” His complaints about today’s terrible television experience are familiar. “We believe the future of television is apps,” he says, laying down the gauntlet to the cable companies. Five parts to his pitch: Hardware, OS, user experience, developer tools, app store. Cue the video.

10:51 a.m. Nearly an hour into the show and no word yet about the iPhone or Apple TV. Schiller slips the iPad mini4 intro in the last minute.,

10:46 a.m. Schiller summarizing the iPad pro segment. Prices ($799 to 1,079. Pencil $99) are clearly aimed for the professional market. Another Jony Ive-narrated video. This is the most we’ve heard from him since the Apple Watch intro.

10:42 a.m. Health care is another vertical market Apple is targeting, and now we have our medical app demo in 43 minutes. The bending muscles (produced with Apple Pencil) and the 3D torn meniscus are very cool.

10:39 a.m. This is Apple’s big push into the enterprise, a signal that Apple is no longer satisfied with focusing on the mass market. The enterprise market is relatively small, but it’s happy to pay full price and support Apple’s market high ASP (average selling price). In the past, Apple has abandoned professional markets, like video an photography, with dumbed down professional products. Looks like it’s coming back to serve the pros.

10:29 a.m. Schiller introduces the Apple Pencil. Cue the video. Jony Ive does the voice over, which suggests this is a product he cares about. Software recognizes force, position and orientation for broad or shaded lines. Built-in Lightning connector for recharging from iPad Pro. Introduces some demos, starting with guys from Microsoft and Adobe.

10:27 a.m. Schiller shows off Apple Smart Keyboard. Fabric covered keys. Attaches with Smart Connector. Carries power and data. Software recognizes that it’s connected.

10:19 a.m. Phil Schiller takes stage to talk about how incredibly excited he is. Slide over, picture in picture etc. designed for iPad Pro. 12.9 inches diagonal, to fit two iPad screens side by side. “The most advanced display we’ve ever created.” Rattles off the specs, including variable refresh rate to save battery. A9X chip. 1.8x faster than A8 chip. “Our chip team is on fire.” 2X graphics bump.

Photo: Jason Cipriani

10:18 a.m. Cook pitches the iPad for the enterprise and introduces “the biggest news in iPad since the iPad. Cue the video. Looks like the rumors were right: the iPad Pro. “The most capable and powerful iPad we’ve ever created.”

10: 16 a.m. Cook back on stage to talk about iPad. “The clearest expression of our vision of the future of computing.”

10:14 a.m. Two new finishes, gold, rose gold and anodized aluminum, for the sport line, so you can look richer than you are. Stainless steel with product red band. Fall collection of new bands suggests seasonal marketing opportunities deep into the future. New models shipping today in 24 countries. Watch OS 2 available Sept. 16.

Hermes watch
Photo: Jason Cipriani

10:11 a.m. Williams is back to talk about new watches and watch bands from Hermes with their iconography. Available in Oct. Interesting that they’re partnering with a traditional watchmaker. Video of new watches and bands.

10:04 a.m. Jeff Williams reviews the new stuff in OS 2. Third-party complications. Adding transit to apps for public trans. Over 10,000 watch apps already, and now with native apps devs can do even more. Demos. Facebook Messenger (mild applause). iTranslate in 90 language. GoPro. Wrist as location to control your GoPro. AirStrip for MDs. Invites co-founder to stage for demo. The doctor is wearing fading jeans. The demo shows impressive real-time heart data.

Photo: Jason Cipriani

10:00 a.m. Tim Cook takes the stage, waving to the crowd. “We could not be more excited to be here tomorrow.” Roar from the employees. “We are really firing on all cylinders. No time for updates. Starts with Apple Watch. What customers love: Amazed by Siri. Loving that they can purchase from their wrist. Closing activity rings has become a “healthy obsession.” Customer satisfaction 97% (using Wristly stat). Invites Jeff Williams to talk about what’s next.

9:59 a.m. Showtime!

9:43 a.m. We’re in. Beats 1 playing live. They’re using the full auditorium. No blocked off demo area or fake Apple store, as rumored. Special guests up front, Apple employees in the balconies, press directed to the middle rows.

Photo: PED

8:45 a.m. Inside the media gathered around the usual tasty Apple breakfast spread of fruit, yoghurt, granola and fancy pastries. The employees—invited because they worked on of the products being unveiled today—filed upstairs to the balcony, which I’m told is “slammed.”

The Wi-Fi, meanwhile, has slowed to a trickle. Could be trouble.

Breakfast for the media
Photo: PED

8:00 a.m. There was some confusion at the media registration desks because the long queue that we assumed was press turned out to be Apple employees. Hundreds of them, lending support for our theory about the special musical guest.

Apple employee line
Photo: PED

7:30 a.m. Registration for invited guests begins in half an hour. Still no clue about who is going to fill all those extra seats.

For those watching at home, Apple will be livestreaming the event here. Requirements: An iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with Safari on iOS 7.0 or later, a Mac with Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X v10.8.5 or later, or a PC with Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 6.2 or later.

7:00 a.m. With sunrise comes the discovery that the only public facility within two blocks of the venue is a single self-flushing toilet shared by the TV crews and San Francisco’s homeless, who are outnumbered this morning only by cops and private security guards. “I understand,” says one uniformed officer to an Apple representative. “Less is more.”

6:00 a.m. The blocks surrounding the Civic Auditorium were a hive of activity in the pre-dawn hours. Apple staffers patrolled the perimeter, which bristled with industrial-size generators and huge white cooling tubes. Two SFPD uniform cops were urging Carpenters Local 22 to move signs protesting Apple’s failure to require subcontractors to pay standard wages and benefits, while two men in dark suits and ear pieces lurked nearby. I counted nine TV satellite dishes, but CNBC’s Jon Fortt, my old Fortune colleague, was the only reporter doing stand-ups this early in the morning.

5:00 a.m. The Apple Store is down. You can still read about the company’s products, but you can’t buy them online.

4:15 a.m. Apple’s shares, which rose $3.04 (2.78%) to $112.31 Tuesday, are up another $1.24 (1.10%) in pre-market trading.

4:00 a.m. Last-minute prediction: This will be Apple’s only fall event, according to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, whose inside sources in the past have included Apple senior VP Phil Schiller. “So if there’s an iPad Pro,” Gruber writes, “it’s coming [Wednesday], no matter how much or how little sense that makes.” Much gloating over at 9to5Mac, which had predicted that today’s show would be a three-ring circus with new iPhones, new Apple TV and new 12.9-inch iPad as the tentpoles.

3:00 a.m. The 7,000-seat multipurpose arena where the show is scheduled to start in 7 hours (10 a.m. PDT, 1 p.m. EDT) is the largest Apple has ever booked for a product introduction, with nearly 10 times the seating capacity of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, its usual San Francisco venue.

Photo: PED

Formerly the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, it was built in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and renamed for Bill (“Fillmore West and East”) Graham after the music impresario’s 1991 death in a helicopter accident.

It has hosted everything from the 1920 Democratic National Convention (which nominated Gov. James Cox for President and Franklin Roosevelt as his running mate) to the San Francisco Warriors (1964-1966). It is owned by the city of San Francisco and generates about $100,000 a year, mostly through rock concerts.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.


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