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Apple: Our stores are your 'town square' and a $1,000 iPhone is your 'future'

Steve Jobs Theater fittingly opens with cult-like showcasing of overpriced gear

Apple has summoned friendly press to its new Cupertino campus to christen the Steve Jobs Theater with the introduction of a new set of products to hit the shelves this Fall.

CEO Tim Cook used the occasion to showcase updates to the AppleTV and Watch lines, while a new, eye-wateringly expensive iPhone model stole the show.

Fanbois? Nope, you're all X-philes now

The fabled "one more thing" this year was the not-so-secret iPhone X. Dubbed the "future" of Apple's flagship product line, the iPhone X (pronounced "ten," like the numeral) has no home button and features a display that covers the entire face of the handset.

iPhone X

Cupertino idiot tax is alive and well

It also features additional hardware on the front side to power Face ID, a log-in system that recognizes the user by the countours of their face. Apple claims the system, said to be even more secure than the Touch ID fingerprint reader, reads your face and works even if you grow a beard, wears glasses, or otherwise alter your appearance.

Other new features include:

  • "Animoji" icons that match the emoji's expression to your own face.
  • Support for augmented reality integration with games and apps (such as imposing gameplay over a table top).
  • Wireless charging through the Qi power standard.

Released to mark the 10-ish year anniversary of the iPhone, Apple execs claim the iPhone X is a glimpse into the future of the line.

"With the introduction of iPhone ten years ago, we revolutionized the mobile phone with Multi-Touch," boasted Sir Jony Ive. "iPhone X marks a new era for iPhone – one in which the device disappears into the experience."

Getting in on that "new era" will come at a price, though. Apple says when the iPhone X arrives on November 3 (orders begin October 27), it will cost a minimum of $1,000 to own.

If you don't want to shell out a grand for a new smartphone, Apple is also upgrading the boring old button-enabled, thumbprint-reading prole iPhone models. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will feature some of the hardware upgrades of the iPhone X, such as the wireless charging, an improved 10nm FinFET A11 "Bionic" system-on-chip with Apple-designed GPU, and augmented reality app support.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will also sport improved cameras, a glass back for the wireless charging, and a better-quality "Retina HD" display that Apple says is better able to handle ambient light.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Water resistant, for the tears of children who wanted the iPhone X

Those models will arrive on September 22 and will have slightly more reasonable starting points:

  • The 4.7-inch iPhone 8 starts at $699
  • The 5.5-inch 8 Plus starts at $799

Three days before the new iPhones hit, Apple will post the iOS 11 update. In addition to support for the new handsets, iOS 11 will bring with it the augmented reality app support and a new set of voices for Siri.

Apple Watch goes full Dick Tracy, and AppleTV hits 4K

The iPhone wasn't the only line to get an upgrade today. Tim Cook also took some time to highlight new features for the Apple Watch, including the much-anticipated introduction of cellular connections.

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch, now with useful features!

Through an on-board SIM card and LTE antenna, the new Watch can send and receive broadband data. This means that, among other things, the Apple Watch can make calls and stream Apple Music songs without needing to be constantly tethered to an iPhone.

"We believe the addition of cellular will transform the way people use Apple Watch, providing a new sense of freedom since they can stay connected with or without their iPhone," says Apple COO Jeff Williams.

The cellular connection will cost you a bit more, however. Apple said that the Watch Series 3 will start at $399 with the cellular connection and $329 without. As the Watch requires an iPhone, the data consumption will be handled through the phone contract.

To keep up with the newest crop of HDTVs, Apple is updating the AppleTV to include support for 4K movies and live sports. The company says that all existing HD movie titles on the Apple that have 4K versions available will get them free of charge, and the AppleTV interface will be redone at 4K resolution.

The retail thing is getting a little weird, guys

Apple also provided an update on plans for its ever-growing line of retail outlets, including new services it will be offering in the larger stores.

For starters, the biggest Apple Stores will feature what the company calls "Town Squares," Apple-owned open spaces it says are meant for people (even Android PC owners, presumably) to gather and talk and maybe, since they're already here, drop some more money on new Apple gear.

If the idea of the Town Square being co-opted by Apple wasn't weird enough for you, there will also be tree-laden "Genius Groves" where you can have your Apple gear repaired, and Apple-branded "Avenues" in place of what we used to call "shelves."

This is all totally normal and OK. ®

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