Plugged-in fashion fans following Apple’s annual launch event on Wednesday may have been excited to learn that Apple Watch’s partnership with Hermès is still going strong, the iPhone camera has gotten better, and an iPhone can now have two separate phone lines — but overall, there were few announcements that seemed to impact the fashion, media and retail worlds.
During the presentation, Apple chief executive offer Tim Cook started by emphasizing Apple’s global physical retail presence, including highlighting the new store that opened in Milan in July. Afterward, announcements included a new Apple Watch and new iPhones, in addition to a few updates to HomePod, Apple TV and the Mac, but no meaningful mentions of iPad, Apple Pay or — certainly a disappointment to the media industry — Apple’s plans for “Netflix for magazines” app Texture, which the company acquired this March.
Cook reminded the audience (in the company’s new Cupertino auditorium) that Apple Watch is the No. 1 watch in the world, meaning it sells the most units and makes more revenue than other watch brands; Apple announced that it beat out former leader Rolex a year ago.
This Friday, customers will be able to order the new Series 4 version of Apple Watch, which becomes available September 21. The redesign includes a 30 percent larger display screen in a thinner, smaller case, which now also comes in gold stainless steel. New versions of the Apple Watch Hermès collection include color-blocked bands, and Apple Watch Nike+ also comes with new band colors.
The presentation largely focused on Apple Watch as a health and fitness tool, which marketers have found continues to be a lucrative use-case for smartwatch and wearables at a time when they have been mostly disappointing in terms of adoption rates and revenue. For example, the new Apple Watch can detect if the wearer has fallen down, and a new heart rate sensor allows for wearers to take an electrocardiogram that has been approved by the FDA.
According to a 2017 report from eMarketer on wrist-worn wearables, researchers downgraded estimates of future wearable usage, reporting that by 2020, only about one in five U.S. adults will use a wearable device on a monthly basis.
The report stated that, while marketers are interested in innovative wearables-based campaigns as well as basic notifications, they don’t see the technology in place yet to unlock wearables’ full potential for brands.
Apple is also adding new iPhones — the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max — with camera and video functions that are a continued improvement to existing models; it also added a new gold finish. “Portrait mode” enthusiasts will have a field day, as the new camera allows users to control the amount of “bokeh,” which is the term for the blurred background, using a slider that alters the depth of field — even in selfies.
Additionally, the new iPhones have added eSIM technology and the ability for users to have two SIMs at once, which allows for, for example, two different phone numbers or different carriers when traveling internationally.
Apple customers (and retailers) will still have to wait for any news about the potential for shopping using HomePod in the vein of Amazon’s Alexa; when HomePod was announced in 2017, brands were enthusiastic about the prospect of customers using Siri voice commands for shopping.
Finally, the media world is still left to watch and speculate what Apple’s purchase of Texture means for magazines and newspapers. Texture, which began as Next Issue in 2010 as a digital magazine subscription service, was created as a join venture between publishers including Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith and others. Earlier this month, Recode reported that Apple execs had been contacting newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post about joining the app.
In a release at the time, Apple senior vp of internet software and services Eddy Cue offered reassuring news: “We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users,” he said.
For now, Apple users will have to be satisfied with even better photos — just in time for Paris Fashion Week.