Digital Transformation Data & Privacy Brand Strategy

Apple unveils iPhone 13 as developers & marketers hold their breath for iOS 15


By Kendra Clark | Senior Reporter

September 14, 2021 | 9 min read

At an Apple event today, the tech titan unveiled its latest iPhone — alongside a range of other product updates. The announcements come in the midst of a notable moment for Apple — while the company has had a banner sales year, it has also been the subject of ongoing debates surrounding antitrust law and a number of high-profile lawsuits. The company’s forthcoming iOS 15 update, meanwhile, which includes a number of new data privacy-focused features, is expected to rock the advertising world. Here’s what you need to know about today’s event and what it means within the broader context of market movements, monopolies and marketing.

At its third official event of the year, Apple today unveiled a smattering of new products, including iPhone 13, the Apple Watch Series 7, a reimagined iPad Mini and more. These announcements, made via livestream from California, come amid growing concerns regarding the company’s stronghold on the technology and policies to which app developers, marketers and tech challengers are forced to adhere.

Apple event recap

Here’s a rundown of the key announcements made at today’s event:

iPhone 13

Apple today unveiled its new iPhone 13 lineup

● The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini will hit shelves at the end of the month. With an improved display engine, the devices’ screens are brighter and more efficient. Plus, the new iPhones are outfitted with a new A15 bionic chip — this chip includes a six-core central processing unit (CPU), which Apple claims makes the phones up to 50% faster than other smartphones. With a 16-core neural engine, iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini can conduct up to 15.8 trillion operations per second. This generation of iPhone witnesses an updated dual camera system, with increased light intake, reduced noise and faster capture times as well as a new wide-angle camera. With the new Cinematic Mode feature, which offers new automated focusing capabilities, video quality also gets a major boost. Equipped with 5G capabilities and extended battery life, both new models are available in five new colors. The Apple spokesperson said that the new iPhone and the forthcoming iOS 15 operating system update have “privacy built in.” In particular, she noted that Siri inquiries aren’t shared with outside organizations and that under iOS 15, users will see improved inox privacy courtesy of the new Mail Privacy Protection feature, which was announced in June.

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● The new iPhone 13 Pro — an upgraded take on the iPhone 12 Pro — was also unveiled. With a smaller triple camera system, a new display and a larger battery, Apple aims to improve the speed and user experience with the new device. The A15 bionic chip offers a faster graphics processing unit (GPU) than any other smartphone. The Pro also comes with the new ProMotion capability, promising smoother graphics, faster response times and more seamless gaming experiences. Apple claims this model provides the longest battery life of any iPhone ever. The Pro model includes additional camera updates. It comes with an improved telephoto capability as well as wide and ultrawide lens. Apple claims the elevated camera system offers up to 92% better lighting in low-light conditions. Plus, with new Photographic Styles, users enjoy easy-to-use advanced photo editing tools. Like the iPhone 13, it’s outfitted with Cinematic Mode. It comes in four new colors and two sizes. Apple also teased the release of a video editing update coming later this year to iPhone Pro 13.

● iPad is getting an upgrade: with a new A13 bionic chip, which assures 20% faster CPU and GPU, the new iPad interface is expected to be more responsive and efficient. It also includes a new and improved front-facing camera — a 12MP ultra wide camera. With the new Center Stage feature, the camera also automatically adjusts to make room for additional faces in the frame. The new True Tone feature adjusts the brightness and color profiles of content on the screen based on the lighting within a user’s natural environment. Plus, the new iPad rings in at an accessible $329.

● The iPad Mini has gotten a complete makeover. A new enclosure offers an edge-to-edge screen. The new iPad Mini sees an 80% jump in GPU speed and a 40% lift in CPU speed. With an upgraded neural engine, the machine enjoys doubled machine learning speeds. The new model also includes a USB-C port, which the company claims equates to 10 times faster data transfers. To accelerate speeds even further, the device is outfitted with 5G connectivity capabilities. Both the front and back cameras have gotten upgrades — just like the iPad Pro, iPad Mini will see new high-MP cameras adapted for low light and equipped with both Center Stage and True Tone features. The iPan Mini now supports the new Apple Pencil 2 stylus pen and is available in four different colors, all equipped with a liquid retina display and low glare. It’s available in both WiFi and cellular configurations. All iPads in Apple’s lineup now include 100% recyclable aluminum enclosures.

● Apple is launching a reimagined Apple Watch. The device will see new health and fitness features. With fall detection assistance and a workout algorithm calibrated to better calculate calories burned on e-bikes, the new Apple Watch Series 7 is optimized for cyclists. The new model also sees an improved user interface. With nearly 50% more screen area than the Series 3 model and 40% thinner borders than the Series 6 model, the screen is broader but thinner, while the actual watch remains about the same size. The Series 7 also comes with a number of new clock display faces. Crucially, the device includes a stronger and more resilient design, with a display update that impedes dust. It’s available in 10 unique colors. A range of new Apple brand and designer bands are also available.

● Following the overwhelmingly positive reception of Ted Lasso, an Apple TV+ original series, Apple TV+ will be debuting a handful of new originals.

● A smattering of other offerings, including Apple Fitness+ are also enjoying updates.

Taking a wider angle view - antitrust cases & a data privacy shift

The news comes at the tail end of a record fiscal year for Apple. In late July, the tech giant posted its Q3 earnings, which indicate that revenue was up 36% year-over-year, reaching a staggering $81.4bn. The company’s profits hit all-time highs following the release of the iPhone 12 last year.

Against the backdrop of this growth, however, have been a number of antitrust cases levied against the company within the last couple of years. Among the most widely publicized is Apple’s battle with Epic Games, maker of the popular video game Fortnite. Epic Games filed an antitrust suit against the tech company last August, accusing Apple of unfairly restricting in-app payment options falling outside of Apple’s App Store payment system. Just last week, a federal judge cleared Apple of nine of the 10 charges raised by Epic Games. While the court found Apple’s anti-steering policies (which inhibit developers from directing users outside of Apple systems) was in violation of California’s anti-competition regulations, the decision essentially sent the message to app developers that they remain bound by Apple’s ironclad grip on the mobile application ecosystem.

In the same vein, Apple exerts a power rivaled only by Google and Facebook over the landscape of advertising. Within the last year in particular, the company has made a significant shift toward more privacy-centric policies that grant users greater say in how their data is used but severely impede marketers’ ability to target users.

Today’s news precedes the official debut of the company’s operating system update, iOS 15, expected to roll out within the coming weeks. The update introduces a range of new privacy-focused updates originally announced at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on June 7. These include built-in VPN access via the new Private Relay feature, new privacy ‘report cards’ for each mobile application installed on a user’s device and new anonymized email addresses that create greater data protection within email inboxes.

While these tools, which follow the launch of Apple’s privacy-centric AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework earlier this year, give users more say over how their personal information is used, they also complicate things for marketers hoping to connect with audiences in relevant, personalized ways. Specifically, they inhibit marketers’ ability to track user behavior across various apps and websites and diminish the means by which they can measure advertising performance.

Ultimately, the product announcements made today are likely to further cement Apple’s grip on the infrastructure and policies that rule the worlds of app development and advertising.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

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