iPhone X's Facial Recognition Fail—and Other Takeaways from Apple's Big Launch Event

iPhone X facial recognition fail

Apple announced its new product lineup today in a huge live event from their new spaceship-like headquarters in Cupertino, California. Here’s a rundown of what’s new and significant and how it matters to you.

A new Apple Watch with a built-in phone

The new Apple Watch 3 now offers a built-in cellular phone that lets you make and receive calls all on its own. This is significant because it can change how we use our phones. It means we can leave our phones at home or in a pocket or purse. This has been the dream of science fiction writers for decades. The watch uses the same cellular number as your iPhone; think of it as an extension.

The new Series 3, which adds other health-related functions and a faster processor, starts at $399 with cellular plus $10/mo. from AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile.

A version without cellular will cost $329, and the original Series 1 will drop to $249. The Apple Watch 3 model looks the same as older models except for a large red dot on the knob on the side.

Cell phone capability is the killer app everyone has been waiting for on the Apple Watch and it adds a lot of convenience never available before. What was left unanswered: How good is the reception, how’s the call clarity, and what’s the effect on the battery life? That will all need to wait for detailed reviews.

Apple TV

Apple introduced a new higher resolution 4K version of its Apple TV. It’s not an actual TV, but a box for connecting your TV to various movie and entertainment services. Nothing significant here, other than Apple trying to catch up to its competitors. $179.

iPhones

This was the biggest announcement and the most important, because it represents most of Apple's sales and profits. As predicted, three phones were introduced, the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X.

The first two are evolutions of their current iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models with the same size displays and home button that doubles as a fingerprint reader. There are some cosmetic changes, including a glass back and aluminum trim, but for the most part, they look and work similarly to the 7 series.

As with each succession, improvements are mostly internal, with incremental improvements to the camera, speakers, and processor. They now support wireless charging, allowing the phones to be placed onto a powered charging plate and recharge without the phone needing to be plugged in.

The 8 Plus, with the larger screen, also has the best camera, still using two separate cameras on the back, but now offering special software to take better portraits by adjusting the light on each part of the face.