This week on Too Embarrassed to Ask, Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode are joined by Recode Editor in Chief Dan Frommer to talk about the latest Apple product announcements. Why did Apple go from iPhone 8 to iPhone X, skipping iPhone 9? What does an Apple Watch need with LTE? Did Jony Ive design the bathrooms at the Steve Jobs Theater? And what about diversity at Apple? All these answered and more.
You can read some of the highlights from their discussion here, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Kara Swisher: Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode.
Lauren Goode: And I’m Lauren Goode, senior technology editor at The Verge.
KS: And you’re listening to Too Embarrassed to Ask, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast network. I’m actually at Vox Media headquarters, too. This is a show where we answer all of your embarrassing questions about consumer tech.
LG: It could be anything, like what Uber, Equifax and SoFi have in common this year.
KS: Oh man.
LG: Which is major screw-ups on the part of all companies.
KS: Major. Lots of screw-ups.
LG: Yeah, and at some point we may have to address some of them again. But that’s not our topic today. But send us your questions. We really do read all of your emails each week and we try to answer them as best as we can.
KS: All right. Find us on Twitter or tweet them to @Recode or to myself or to Lauren with the #TooEmbarrassed.
LG: We also have an email address. It’s TooEmbarrassed@Recode.net, and a friendly reminder that Kara’s password has two Rs and two Ss.
KS: You’re very funny.
KS: My password is IHeartLauren123.
LG: It’s ImissLauren.
KS: Not even slightly.
LG: Because you’re in New York today.
KS: I am, indeed. Here I am in New York. We had Code Commerce, was very exciting. Very exciting.
LG: You guys had a tremendous lineup.
KS: We did. We always do, Lauren. Haven’t you been paying attention for 15 years? Anyway.
LG: I’ve been to a few of your events.
KS: You’ve been onstage. You’ve been excellent.
LG: I have, but it seems as though the event really went off quite well. I was seeing your interview with Johana and Bozoma Saint John. Am I saying her name correctly?
KS: No you’re not. Baz.
LG: I’m sorry.
KS: Bozoma Saint John, she’s amazing. She was really good.
LG: Clearly you’ve got her name.
KS: She’s head of brand marketing at Uber and I have to say she’s quite a canny executive. She did a great job.
LG: That’s excellent.
Today on Too Embarrassed to Ask, we are continuing our discussion of the most wonderful time of the year for nerds. And it’s fall product season. There, of course, is a lot going on in technology but right now there are a lot of hardware launches. Last week we talked to Dieter Bohn from The Verge about Samsung Galaxy Note8 and some other new Android phones like the Essential phone.
KS: And this week, we are joined by Recode’s Editor in Chief Dan Frommer, who just flew back from the Apple event and boy are his arms tired. I needed to do that. He and I are here in New York for Code Commerce, as I said, and if you want to hear interviews from that conference you can find them at our other podcast Recode Replay.
LG: Kara, do you need help picking up all of the Recode names that you’re dropping right now?
KS: No not at all. It’s very recodicious.
LG: Oh okay. Yeah. Hey Dan, thanks so much for joining us.
Dan Frommer: Hey, my pleasure.
LG: Let’s talk about Apple. Dan was at Apple earlier this week, a bunch of us were at Apple, I was at the Apple event, and this was a really big event for Apple because it marked 10 years since the iPhone first launched in 2007. And there were a lot of rumors and a lot of leaks ahead of this event about what Apple was going to do, not only to commemorate 10 years of iPhones, but to do something that was really going to make Apple’s phones stand out from the crowd more.
We’re seeing a lot of phone makers start to introduce some really nice hardware and some pretty advanced technologies in mobile phones — and people always say this but it’s true, Apple doesn’t do something first, it tends to try to wait and see if it can do it best and that was definitely the case here. I’m very happy to have Dan on.
KS: Welcome, Dan. So talk about it as an anniversary event. Was there cake or, you know, feeding or whatever? But how important was it for Apple? And describe the scene because it was on their new campus, correct?
Yeah, I would say more so than seeing it as an anniversary event, it was kind of a welcome event. It was the first time they’d had a group of people, one of these key-note events, at their new campus, which is called Apple Park. It’s in a different part of Cupertino than the old Infinite Loop campus. But really, it was about christening the new Steve Jobs auditorium or Steve Jobs Theater, which, when they’ve had these events three, four times a year, they rarely have them at Apple’s campus. They usually have to rent out some theater ...
KS: ’Cause it’s an old campus.
Yeah, they had an auditorium there but it was small. So they would rent out some huge theater either in San Francisco or one of the other suburbs down in Silicon Valley, they would do this massive build-out and now they don’t have to do that anymore, they have this amazing 1,000-seat theater in their new campus.
KS: Designed by Jony Ive?
Designed by Jony Ive. I don’t know, I wonder how much work he actually did on the theater.
KS: Does it look like an Apple store?
It looked like a Jony Ive fever dream of some sort. It’s this glass cylinder with a metallic carbon-fiber ceiling that is supported only by the glass cylinder, there are no posts. It has some really interesting lighting because it’s surrounded by trees so it has kind of a green glow to it in that first-floor area.
And then you go downstairs on these amazing — I guess they’re marble — these marble walls and this staircase that feels like it’s carved into stone. And then downstairs there’s this huge white room, which is where they had the demo area set up. And then in the theater down even one level below that, an amazing screen that they put in, like a super-high-end movie theater screen and sound system.
LG: You know they weren’t going to skimp, right?
No. And why would they? They literally have $200 billion or something like that.
KS: Yeah, why not?
So, why not?
KS: What did you think, Lauren?
LG: I was seriously impressed by it. And it’s worth noting, too, that we only saw the visitor center and the Steve Jobs Theater, the Apple Park spaceship, as people have been calling it, the big circular building we’ve seen footage of from drones and stuff like that, that’s where employees are going to be working. I heard that not many of them are in there yet, but that’s where they’ll be and we didn’t even get to see that. We sort of saw it from a distance, like up on the hill and like Dan said, it just kind of looked like it possibly wasn’t even real.
KS: It’s very Star Warsian.
LG: Like it was this gorgeous backdrop on a sunny Cupertino morning. Someone from The Verge made the point, too, that you can almost tell the way that the glass cylinder was designed, the sunlight just hits it perfectly. It creates this JJ Abrams lens-flare of every photo that you take, and there’s so much thought that goes in this building. It’s unbelievably beautiful. The bathroom doors were nice.
Oh yeah, it was ...
LG: When people go to key card in, the key card terminals are flush against the wall.
It was a delight to use a Jony Ive-designed bathroom.
KS: Oh, that’s nice. On that note, I don’t want to hear the rest of that information there, but let’s talk about the actual phone, the iPhone ... I’m gonna interview you both then, the iPhone 8 Plus and then the iPhone 10, which, or X, whatever, if you want to call it, of course, there is a 9 ... it is really 9, but I’m gonna not argue with them, so which isn’t shipping until ...
LG: But 7 ate 9.
KS: Whatever, there’s 9 ... ha ha, that’s an old joke. That’s a 7-year-old person’s joke.
Oh, I just got that.
KS: Oh my God. The two of you. All right, let’s talk about the phones, the thoughts. Let’s start with you, Dan. They don’t come till September, how should people look at the new phones? Everyone’s been asking me whether to buy it, I did not see it, I wasn’t paying attention to a lot of the coverage because I was doing this conference. Talk about each of them, and the difference between the 8s and the 10. And then Lauren.
Sure. And the 10, it’s actually early November is when it comes out. So the 8 is basically just a, it really is a 7s, they used to do this thing where they would do the 5, and then the 5s, then the 6 and 6s, this year, they skipped the 7s. I don’t know exactly why, my hunch is that because Samsung is on the 8, so they should also be on the 8, but maybe they think that there was enough of a difference this year, to justify jumping one number. The main difference is, some upgrades, it’s faster, has a better camera, it also has a glass back on it, which is so that it can be charged with this thing that’s called a wireless charger, I think that’s kind of a misnomer.
LG: You have to put it down just to ...
You still have to touch it to the device. It’s basically a pad. Ikea has these coffee tables with these charging pads built into them. Some fast food restaurants are building tables with these pads built in. It’s a system called Qi, spelled Q-I.
KS: Oh my God.
That’s the big difference in the 8 Plus.
KS: It looks like a 6, essentially.
LG: Unless you turn it over.
Right, unless you turn it over.
LG: But it has the button at the bottom.
Right. It has the home button at the bottom.
KS: Lauren, your thoughts on this one?
LG: The way that I look at it is the v8 and 8 Plus make iterative changes to the 7 and the 7 Plus before it, it has better speakers, better processor, which Apple is calling its Bionic processor because the past couple of generations of chips, they’ve started to giving these names to, like Fusion and Bionic, because people like to repeat it, and then they’re like, “I have a Bionic processor on my phone.” And then there’s a ...
I think if you’re employee of the month at Apple, you get to name the chip.
KS: It was probably ... you know they’re older, so “bionic” has a lot of meaning to us older folks. “The Bionic Woman,” “The Bionic Man.”
LG: Right. It’s like, are you a computer ...
Oh, is that one of the conventions?
KS: If you’re old, really, it’s a big memory.
Isn’t there a bionic wife or something like that?
KS: No, there’s a bionic woman, a bionic man, and then I think they married at some point. They were double bionics. Anyways, we won’t get into my being old, but go ahead Lauren, go ahead with the 8 Plus, then I want to get to the 10. Because that’s the ...
LG: Speakers, processors, improved camera — they’re always making camera improvements from generation to generation of phone — and then the glass back, as Dan mentioned, and the wireless charging, which for some people is a really big deal. But I look at it as, those are the four things that set the 8 apart from the 7. The 10 is the big leap. And the 10, in a lot of ways, is where Apple’s catching up.
KS: Great, so 10.
LG: Dan, what did you think of the time when you first ... Dan, I think you were the first person who got a picture of the 10.
I walked right up it and started photographing it. Hey, it looks really nice, the screen is amazing. It’s a different type of technology for the screen. It’s the first time Apple’s using that in a phone, it’s called OLED, which I think stands for Organic LED. It’s very bright, it’s very vibrant. And the first thing you notice is that it doesn’t feel like an iPhone because the corners are curved, because there’s no home button at the bottom. Instead of having this square crops like every other iPhone that you’ve spent 20 hours staring at for the last 10 years, it feels like you’re looking at a different device.
KS: Which could be disconcerting to some.
It was disconcerting, even in someone who is pretty adaptable to these things. But I think the biggest change will be in user behavior. They really changed, significantly, how you use the phone in two basic ways. One is there’s no home button. That button that you click 500 times a day, subconsciously, you can’t do that anymore. It’s gone. It’s been replaced by a screen, and that’s where Apple’s saying, “We’ve been aiming at this for 10 years, we have a device that’s all screen.”
And it’s, literally now, almost all screen in the front. There’s still a little forehead at the top for the speaker and that kind of stuff, but it really is all screen. The home button, you swipe up now from the bottom of the screen, that’s the main change. And then instead of ... to unlock it, you don’t have your thumbprint on the home button anymore, you have a facial ID system called Face ID.
KS: All right, Face ID. Lauren, what did you think of the 10? What did you think? Is it a big game-changer for them?
LG: I’ve said this before, and I think in a lot of ways, Apple is catching up to some of its competitors. There are other smartphone makers out there who have done edge-to-edge OLED displays, they’ve done biometric scanning of some sort, and a lot of cases, it’s iris readers. Samsung has done this before.
But theirs doesn’t work, right? Like, it’s ...
LG: Other people have done what Apple is doing. The difference is, when you’re a manufacturer like a Samsung or an LG, or even Essential, which we talked about last week, you don’t have full control over the hardware and the software stack. You’re running Android and all the phones are made to different specs and form factors and sizes, as you don’t get the kind of this unified experience. One of the advantages that Apple has is it controls the full stack.
KS: Does it work?
LG: It controls the hardware, it controls the software, it controls the chips, it makes the chips, it does everything on its own, and so it can make something that feels a little bit ... some of these things can work better because of the element of control that they have.
KS: All right.
LG: We don’t know yet until we try the Face ID, and they talked a lot about ...
KS: What about the experience? Did you feel it’s a real difference? Are people gonna have a problem ’cause it’s not like the old Apple?
LG: No, I think the people who spend $1,000 on the phone are the people who are going to, they’re going to make that thing work. They just want to say they have a $1,000 fancy iPhone.
And they’re gonna whine.
LG: And they’re gonna be like, “No, it’s fine. It works great!”
Here’s the big ... in practical thinking, to me, the biggest difference is you can’t unlock the phone on its way from your pocket to your face anymore, ’cause it won’t unlock until it sees your eyes. You don’t only have to be looking at the phone, but you have to be looking at the phone.
KS: What if you were in the dark?
It works in the dark.
LG: What if you’re Kara Swisher and you wear sunglasses indoors?
It’s infrared. It will adjust to your set ... it will adapt.
LG: Is it gonna know my sunglasses?
KS: It better.
Yeah, it will. And if you get new ones, it’ll learn them.
KS: Oh, okay.
This is Apple’s AI at work, learning your face.
KS: Or else they’re gonna have ... Learning your face.
Okay, so I’m gonna ask about the competitors in a minute, but the $1,000 price tag, every ... lots of people are mad, shit’s like, “Ooh, that’s a lot of money.”
They’re freaking out about this.
LG: They’re freaking out, I’m freaking out! I’m like, “That’s a lot of money.”
I tweeted about this last week, it is a lot of money. The current iPhone is a lot of money, too. The current iPhone is like, $900, depending on your configuration. I asked them, “Why are people freaking out about $1,000 versus $900?” I think Paul Graham said, “’Cause people have 10 fingers,” and I think that’s the, actually, right answer. Because people have 10 fingers. All of a sudden, this is another digit added on, but if you divide $1,000 by how much time and value you get from an iPhone, it’s nothing.
LG: No, I know. No, people pay more for purses, it’s cool.
KS: Some people are, not Kara Swisher.
I mean, it’s a lot of money, but it’s freaking computer in your pocket that does almost everything you want.
KS: All right, Lauren, your thoughts on the $1,000 price tag?
LG: I have a very un-sexy response to that, which is that I think this is about average selling price for Apple. If you look at ... in the Spring of 2016, Apple, I think, had quarterly declines in iPhone sales for the first time, and then the couple two quarters after that, they had declined iPhone sales, they sold more phones for the holidays, again, of course, ’cause they sell a lot around the holidays.
But then I think last quarter, or sometime early this year, I think in May when they reported, their iPhone sales were down again. iPhones, smartphones, it’s a mature market at this point. In certain markets, the majority of adults who have phones are using smartphones, and so these companies have to figure out ways to innovate or convince people they’re innovating, and just keep selling. And if they can’t sell the same volume, then they have to increase the price.
You’re looking now at two different SKUs, you’re looking at iPhone 10 plus the new iPhones 8, so people are looking at ... they’re not looking and saying, “Should I buy one of these or should I buy another Android phone?” Now you have people saying, “Should I buy the 10 or should I buy the 8?” People who are interested in a phone to begin with.
KS: What’s the price of the 8?
LG: Well, the price of the 8 also went up, I think $50 at the base price. The iPads also went up a little bit at the base price. So you’re looking at them increasing prices a little bit at a time when the volume may not be the same.
KS: Yeah, but it’s definitely not saying, “We’re for people who are on a budget,” this phone is not.
LG: No. That’s what the 6 will be for. The 6s.
I disagree with all that.
I don’t think Apple is trying to boost its ASP numbers with a fancier phone, I think they want to ship a really awesome phone, and they’re gonna charge what it cost to make a fancier phone and also, they’re not gonna be able to make enough of these. They’re gonna sell out at any price because they’re not gonna be able to make that many.
KS: Gosh dammit! They priced $2,000 for a phone? What is it?
LG: OLED is really expensive.
Here’s the thing, no one pays that money up front. Very few people pay that, I pay whatever, it’s $50 a month for my phone the way most people are buying them now. They’re either leasing them, or they’re buying them on an installment plan.
KS: That’s a good point, that’s a fair point.
If you get on the upgrade program, no one’s ever really paying $1,000, you’re paying a down payment of whatever it is, $100 or $200, something like that, and then you’re paying your monthly installment and whatever.
KS: Well, Dan, you’re not spending it on fancy clothes.
LG: I mean, let me just say this.
My Scandinavian shirt is not good enough for you?
KS: No, but it is interesting that people will spend a lot of money on certain luxury, it feels like a luxury price, that’s all. Lauren?
LG: Well, for some people, to Dan’s point, distributed over many months, and with some upgrade programs, it’s probably not gonna feel like all that much to some people, and so I do, totally agree with that. And I think that Apple made this phone because it could, and it wanted to prove that it could make this awesome, next-generation phone, but at the end of the day, Apple wants to sell phones. That’s what they do.
KS: That’s what they do.
LG: Sell phones.
KS: I want to get into the competitors.
Let’s do it.
KS: Okay, let’s do the competitors. All these phones out there, there’s a lot of them, how does it stack up against, I guess Samsung would really be the one you want to talk about. Lauren?
LG: Well, it doesn’t have a stylus, so if you were a person who really, really likes to use a stylus with your phablet, you are out of luck with the iPhone X.
KS: All right. Dan?
LG: That’s what I was ...
Well, it’s the only one that runs iOS.
KS: Yeah, well, that.
Yeah, but that’s Apple’s big advantage, if you don’t want to run Android, then here’s your only option, basically.
KS: Right. So we do. ’Cause people who have those ones do love them, the Samsungs, the ones who ...
Some do. Some just buy them ’cause they’re there.
LG: And we should also note that Google just announced a hardware event that’s gonna be happening October 4th. In as little as a couple of weeks, we’re gonna see probably ... we don’t know, we’re probably gonna see another phone, it’s probably gonna be a pretty nice phone. It’s probably gonna look at the $800-above price range.
KS: But they’ve ... it’s interesting to see if people will shift back from the ... people like the large screen of the Samsung phone, that’s why they seem to move, that’s the thing that they didn’t love Android as much as the screen and the look of it.
KS: So it’ll be interesting to see if they shift back to the Apple phone now that it has that.
I think some will, but not a ton.
KS: All right. Another thing happened, the Apple watch with LTE. Does anyone want LTE on their wrist? I think it should have been the first time, but here it is now. Lauren?
LG: I am gonna fundamentally disagree with you about it should have had LTE the first time, only because the LTE wristwatches — LTE smartwatches — that we reviewed before, generally, something suffers because you added the LTE, the cellular modem, and it’s either style or battery life or both.
And in this case, we don’t know yet, because we haven’t had the chance to really get into the testing, and by the time you listen to this, I will have tested the watch more, but it’s just gonna be interesting to see how battery life performs now that you’ve added this. I’m looking at LTE right now, based on the very limited experience I had the other day at the event, as something that may be nice to use in certain situations, but it’s not something you’re really going to seriously rely on in a smartwatch.
KS: Okay, is it heavier? Is it bigger? The design didn’t suffer? Or is it the same?
LG: Is it ever so slightly thicker. Apple, and it’s ... Apple’s so brilliant at marketing, it’s like, “It’s two sheets of paper thicker.” Most people say a hair thicker, or like barely thicker, and they’re like, “We put two sheets of paper in between them.”
If you look at the heart-rate sensor module on the other side of the watch, it’s ever so slightly thicker than previous versions, but that’s it. Aesthetically, it looks almost exactly the same, there is a little red dot on the side of the crown on the watch, which is supposed to let people know that you have an LTE-enabled smartwatch. Otherwise, it looks exactly the same.
KS: All right, so Dan? Your thoughts on the watch? Then we’ll get to questions from the audience.
It makes sense that they were able to do it. I think, in some ways, it will be freeing. I think I’ll start going on runs without my phone, and you have people ... it’s not gonna replace your phone, yet. But I think it’s definitely the way that things are moving in the future, that all kinds of devices have an always-on cellular connection on them, so you’ll be able to have internet watch maybe, or internet glasses, or something like that. I would not say it’s revolutionary by any means ...
Yeah. You could say, “I’m gonna leave my phone at home all the time now,” and you may do that, but you’re also gonna want to have your camera with you, which is your phone. Your phone does a lot of stuff now.
KS: Yeah. Does it pick up calls, Lauren?
KS: It picks up calls too, right?
I think it’s super cool.
LG: Yeah, it’s supposed to do this thing, where if you’re using your Apple Watch now and you’ve got your phone nearby, the watch is getting all of its connectivity from your phone. It’s supposed to be this thing where if you were to step away from the phone while you were wearing the watch, and let’s say you run out to grab a coffee or run a quick errand and you just happen to not have your phone, it’s supposed to be this seamless handoff to the LTE modem on the watch, and so the idea is you would still get your text messages and your phone calls and that sort of thing. So I can see that being convenient.
KS: Talk in your wrist.
LG: Just based on past experience, usually, it does impact battery life in a pretty bad way. So we’ll see.
KS: Yeah, and also, my phone is with me at all times. It’s like my bodyguard. Anyway.
You know what? Hold on. There’s one other use case, I think.
Which is emergencies or when your phone is dead. If you want to hail an Uber, and your phone, you’ve either lost your phone, or the battery’s dead or something like that, this is ... it can pay for itself in one use, and emergencies too if you’re somewhere and your phone has been stolen or whatever, and you need to call 911, you can.
KS: Yeah. You could call your own phone. And yell at yourself.
And I think that is important, you’re not gonna pay extra for it.
LG: They show this example of — which I think was a little bit tongue in cheek — but this woman surfing, in a marketing video that Apple made, and she’s out in the water, and she’s catching a wave, and then all of a sudden, she’s interrupted by the sound of her phone ringing, but it’s not her phone, it’s coming from her wrist because she’s wearing the Apple Watch in the water. It’s kind of this funny look at when you’re really isolated, and your phone is not nearby, but you need to take a call or make a call, it’s there. It’s there as an option.
KS: Right. Oh good. Now I can be reached anywhere by Dan Frommer, that’s a problem.
LG: That’s exactly right.
KS: In just a minute, we’re gonna take some questions about this week’s Apple event from our readers and listeners, and Dan and Lauren are going to answer them. But first, we’re gonna take a quick break for a word from one of our sponsors. Lauren?
Okay, we’re back with Dan Frommer and Lauren Goode. Dan is the editor of Recode, and Lauren works at The Verge and is my co-host on Too Embarrassed to Ask. We’re talking about this week’s Apple event that both of them attended, and now we’re gonna take some questions from our readers and listeners, and between them, they should have the answers. I have no answers for any of you ’cause I did not go to this event. There were a lot of questions ... actually, I’m gonna read them, and you guys each take one, how about that?
Let’s start with iPhones and a lot of questions about wireless charging. It seems to have interested people. Aaron Wong, @aaron_k_wong: “Phones are getting really expensive. Just a few years ago, flagships are $600, now we’re basically double that to $1149.” Dan, please discuss.
I’m not entirely sure about that math on that, but I’ll say what I said before, if you want to advertise that for less time you’re spending at your $3,000 iMac, and all the value you’re getting out of your phone, and if you insist on having the top-of-the-line phone, I think that is not a totally unreasonable price tag. I don’t think anyone’s being gouged.
KS: Okay. Small price to pay is Dan’s answer.
There are plenty of options. If you want a $200 phone, you can buy a $200 phone.
KS: All right. Okay. Next one for Lauren. Email from Harris Caston: “Do any of the new phones 8, 8 Plus or X, have a dual SIM card capability?” Lauren?
LG: That is an excellent question, and I have to be honest, I don’t actually know. Apple is one of the manufacturers that has held off a lot in dual SIM card capabilities in its smartphones, and, I was gonna say, the Galaxy Note8 has one, and they depend on the market.
I’m gonna guess it’s a 98 percent certainty the answer is no. Otherwise, they would have bragged about it.
KS: They would have bragged.
LG: At this point, we would have dug it up or someone else would have written about it, but here as of this point, I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m pretty certain no, and we’ll have to get back to you. Thanks for emailing me. Email you back.
KS: Email from Patrick McKeever: “Will the new phones work with the new Gigabit speed networks?” Dan?
This is the one Lauren and I were saying, we don’t really know.
That’s not a word that I remember them saying onstage, I know that I’ve seen some tweets from telecom guys saying that it does work in certain bands that they weren’t sure it would work on. I’m not entirely sure that would make a huge difference in day-to-day usage anyway, but maybe it would. I don’t know.
LG: They’d have to rely on Qualcomm’s technology to make that happen, and I’m not quite sure how likely that is.
KS: All right.
Wait, there’s a big lawsuit, right.
KS: All right, Lauren, this is for you, from Adrian Polak: “Have any advancements been made with regards to the quality of audio for voice calls?”
LG: That is something we’re gonna have to wait for the full reviews to find out, because we just don’t know yet. When we saw the demo models on hand at the event on Tuesday, it’s not like we were able to make phone calls from the demo models, at least I didn’t make phone ... Dan, I don’t know if you tried to.
But one thing that’s worth noting about the new phones is that the speakers are better. This is, of course, is not the same as audio call quality, but just with regards to audio in general. Speakers are better, though, and now two speakers at the bottom of the 8, and that is something Apple talked about onstage, call quality, we’ll just have to wait and see.
And I’ll add one tip: If you want a better-sounding phone call, use Facetime audio. It’s gonna sound better than your carrier.
KS: Yes, indeed. Justin Soffer, @justinsoffer: “Why no 512 gigabit option? Many people would automatically buy the top of the line and high margin on memory.” Dan?
I know, Justin, that’s a great question. I don’t know. Perhaps they just want to keep things simpler, or they couldn’t source enough 512-gig chips in the right size to fit into a phone.
KS: Lauren? Any thoughts?
LG: I’m gonna go with whatever Dan said.
KS: All right. You get this next one.
LG: Trying to figure out why Apple does storage the way it does is like trying to figure out how Kara Swisher gets all of her scoops.
KS: I work harder than you do.
Lauren, this is for you: “How long do you think Apple will stick to the X design before it gets a major change?” David! We just gave you a major change, and now you want another major change? That’s my answer to that one. But go ahead, Lauren. Jesus, David.
LG: I think they’re gonna try to stick with this design for a while. I think this phone has been in the works for a while, and this is a pretty dramatic change from an industrial design perspective on the phone. So, unless there is some crazy amount of backlash to the iPhone X, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see them stick with this type of design for a little while.
KS: Dan, any thoughts? Same thing.
I’d say one to three years. Or one to four years.
KS: One to four years. I think they’re gonna come out with an orb next year. Just an orb that you just stare at.
I will say, it’s weird that they skipped 9 and went to 10, it’s weird that it’s X, because everyone is calling it X. I don’t know. There’s some ...
LG: So sexy. X.
KS: You know, Scott Galloway said on my podcast, that Apple was sex.
Yeah, it is.
KS: Facebook is love and Apple is sex.
It feels a little unsteady. But we’ll see.
KS: This is my X. It’s nice, I like it.
All right. An email from Ivan B., this is for Dan: “Does the Apple charging device need to be plugged in?” Probably. “Is there also room for charging wire? Or you must carry the charging device when you’re traveling?”
You know, I didn’t get to pick up the Apple charging device, which I believe is called AirPower? Is that right, Lauren?
LG: AirPower, yeah.
Yes, it needs to be plugged in, there’s still no wireless electricity in the consumer market, so yes. It would have to be charged.
LG: You have to take it with you, right?
KS: Is it heavy?
Is there room for a charging wire? I don’t know. I didn’t get to pick it up, I should’ve snuck a ...
KS: ’Cause it looks ... heavy, Lauren? Does it look?
LG: No, it doesn’t, actually. It just looks like a charging mat. I don’t know if ... there are ones that are out there already from companies like Belkin and Mophie that use this Qi charging standard, and it’s just like a flat mat, but the Apple one, the AirPower one, happens to be a little bit bigger, because their positioning is that you can fit your phone, your watch and, what was the third thing?
LG: AirPods, thank you, on it. It’s a little bit longer.
KS: Can you use regular ones? Can you now use Qi with the ...
KS: Qi works if you buy old ones.
Yes. And what Apple was saying is that their ... I keep thinking it’s called an AirPad, so I’m gonna call it that. Their AirPad is a tweak to the Qi standard, which, I believe they’re gonna try to submit back to Qi folks, but I don’t know.
LG: Their Qi is better than other people’s Qi.
KS: All right, next.
LG: You know what that makes me think of? It makes me think of the Juicero guy. When we had him on. He was talking about Qi, and we were like, “What is Qi?”
KS: Oh, no.
LG: But he wasn’t talking about wireless charging, he was talking about his juicer and his energy.
KS: We’ve moved a lot from Juicero guy, we’re now at the bodega guy, whatever. Jesus. What is wrong with these people?
Anyway, Marco Donjuan: “What is the pricing of the Apple-branded Qi mats? Follow-up: Do they charge at the same speed as plugging them in normally?” Let’s see whose turn was that, that was yours, Lauren.
LG: Apple has not yet released pricing for the power mats, and we don’t even know exactly when it’s going to be released. It’s sometime in 2018, that much we know. And do they charge at the same speed as plugging them in normally? Yes. That is my understanding.
KS: So you can’t get them til 2018?
Yeah. Hey, Lauren, how much did you think they’ll charge?
I bet it’s more.
LG: $129. I bet it’s more, too.
KS: When are they available?
LG: Okay. And this is not saying that AirPods aren’t amazing technology, I actually really like the AirPods, but they’re charging you $169 for those, is that correct?
KS: Yeah, I love them though, they’re worth it.
LG: And they’re charging that for AirPods? I would put AirPower Mat and that’s it.
KS: When is it available?
They haven’t said.
LG: We don’t know, just 2018.
KS: Really? What the hell? Come on. But can you put these Apple phones now, if you get them in November, on one of the existing mats?
Yes. The Qi.
LG: From my understanding, is yes.
KS: Qi. You can Qi it up early.
Okay, all right. @jk, and this is for you, Dan: “Any explanation for Apple debuting an 8-year-old wireless charging stand on the flagship, futuristic phone? I’m still getting it.” Of course. I hate apple! I just hate it! But I’m buying it immediately.
LG: That’s so typical.
I think — because I’m not an expert on wireless charging standards, so I don’t know if there’s a drastically better one that’s out there, but I think it’s the same answer as when they used NFC for Apple Pay — it’s because a market has developed for it, there are a lot of Qi devices in the wild. I don’t see them, but I guess they’re there somewhere. And it’s in Apple’s interest for this to be as compatible as possible with other stuff.
Now, you can make the same argument, “Why don’t they have USB-C charging instead of Lightning?” That’s for other reasons. They want the Lightning to do other things than just charging, I think. But I think in this case ... unless there’s something I don’t know about that’s so much better that they made the right move.
KS: Yeah. And he’s still getting it, it doesn’t matter.
Okay, last question in this section, very briefly, Lauren, Susi Thayer: “Will wireless charging for the iPhone 8, X work if they are wearing a case?” That’s what someone just asked me, actually. Someone asked me yesterday about that. Will it go through the cases?
LG: It should, actually. As long as you’re not using a metal case or something that is going to impact the connectivity between the glass back and the charging pad, but if you’re just using a regular case, not too thick, it should, based on our previous experiences, charging these types of phones, Qi charging mats.
KS: All right, we’re gonna take a break for some more ads, then we’ll be back for more questions about the new Apple iPhones, the 8, the 8 Plus and the X.
KS: All right we’re here with Dan Frommer of Recode and Lauren Goode of The Verge, who is also my co-host on Too Embarrassed to Ask, and we are getting more questions, we got so many questions about the Apple iPhone, people really love that iPhone.
First one, we’re gonna ask about, are there issues, we’re talking a bit about Qi mats, and other things, but now we’re gonna look at some other things, Face ID. Email, from Zack Schildhorn: “Will Face ID work with sunglasses?”
LG: This is a good question. “They showed hats, and scarves, and beards and regular glasses, but no sunglasses.” They were dissing Kara Swisher, I really feel that’s the case. Thank you, Steve Dowling.
KS: Considering it, you need to see your eyes, how will this work? Why don’t we go with Dan on this one?
I’m gonna punt to Lauren, maybe she’s done some research.
KS: Punt to Lauren. Did you check about my situation, Lauren? Let’s go.
LG: I did, and I wish I thought of you. When I was at the event, I had sunglasses in my pocket too, I should have tried it. I think it should. They said that it’s going to work with glasses. They didn’t say sunglasses, and so that’s a really good question, because someone also told me — and once again, I’m not 100 percent certain and it’s not based on my own experience — that if your eyes are closed, it won’t work. Okay, glasses makes me think, yes, it would work. Sunglasses makes me think possibly not, because then you’re actually obstructing the view of your eyes.
What if you scoot them down your nose a little so your eyes are peeking out? Will that work?
LG: The way that Kara does?
KS: Yeah, but still, I didn’t want to take them off, I just texted Steve Dowling, “Does the iPhone work with sunglasses?”
LG: Yeah. Text him right now, see what he says.
KS: He’s gonna get back to me, he better or else.
LG: Apple said that they tested a lot of situation, they tested people, of course, of all different facial structures and skin types and colors and freckles and they tested it with makeup or without. They worked with Hollywood to have people create masks to see if someone could replicate someone’s face and then spoof the ID. I trust that Apple did their homework and put a lot into this. But interestingly enough, one thing that might trip it up is twins. If you have a twin.
KS: Twins. So you’ve an evil twin, you’re screwed.
LG: Are they gonna be able to unlock your phone? Yeah. That and sunglasses, I think, we’re still gonna have to try.
KS: Steve Dowling just wrong me back immediately: “Only for you.”
KS: Let me just say, the iPhone facial recognition only works for Kara Swisher.
Yeah. I’m gonna guess now that they won’t work with sunglasses ’cause they did not say they would.
KS: Yeah, only for me. Well, works for me. He just promised it, I have a text, that will go up on Recode if it doesn’t, so there we have it. Sorry, Steve. You better get on it! Get Jony Ive designing something.
All right, this is JP Balajadia: “Now that police have to point a phone at someone’s face to unlock it, isn’t that less secure?” Ooh, Lauren. Take that one.
LG: Well, when I get arrested I close my eyes the whole time, so no one gets to me.
KS: All right, okay. Dan?
LG: Honestly, yeah, it’s gonna be one of those situations where, earlier this year, there were some suggestions being made that perhaps if you were a person of interest, and you were traveling internationally, and you suspect you might get held up at an airport, that maybe you shouldn’t have your touchID activated, because someone could force you to unlock your phone, if it contains sensitive information, all these rare but certainly possible situations come into question with something like this, and I guess it’s certainly possible that someone could order you to point a phone at your face to unlock it, but we just don’t know.
KS: All right, Steve Dowling just wrote me back again, not being a smartass, and he goes, “It does. It works with sunglasses.”
KS: Okay, we’ve got some news breaking there.
LG: Only here, Too Embarrassed.
Too Embarrassed exclusive.
LG: Did you write back to Steve #TooEmbarrassed and then send him a ...
KS: I sent him a picture about the police one, too. I want him to know about the police one. I’m just gonna ask him everything, say, “We need answers, Steve. Immediately!”
LG: Steve Dowling, for those of you who don’t know, by the way, you probably do if you’re listening to this podcast, but he’s the head of all communications for Apple. Kara’s going straight to the source.
KS: We’re usually texting back and forth about “Game of Thrones,” but this is much better.
All right, speaking of which, Lord of the Flings: “Why didn’t they go for touch and Face ID like all other sensible phone makers, and where did the extra notification icons like BT get displayed on screen?” I think this one’s Dan’s. Dan?
LG: Yeah, it’s Dan’s turn.
I’ve read, like many people probably have read that there ... one of the options that were considering was having a touchID sensor built in to the screen, or maybe even on the back of the phone, like some Android makers do. They obviously chose not to do that. I think that they could not get it embedded into the screen in a way that they wanted to, and there’s certainly some usability issues about having it on the back of the phone. I think they think that this is better, and that it’s all you need.
KS: Yeah, the next question, same name: “Do you think Apple would bring back touchID next year if the under-display fingerprint reader gets ready?” Maybe?
Maybe, but I think that if this is better then forget it.
KS: They probably do that, they do! They leave things behind. Apple just leaves ’em behind. They don’t look back. They do on lots of things.
Lauren? This is about the Apple Watch: “I’ve owned three Fitbit Surges, but all broke. You say Apple Watch 3 is a good replacement or higher-quality product to Fitbit’s offerings?”
Oh Lauren, I need to make a choice here. This is Kurt.
LG: This is a really good question. The one thing I’ll say right away is that if you’re looking at Apple Watch 3, because of the LTE and you’re trying to compare that to a Fitbit experience, it’s apples and oranges — Eric is rolling his eyes and thumped his head right now — because none of the Fitbits have LTE capabilities, and that’s not something ... Fitbit’s just really focused on health and fitness, Apple watch is about notifications, it’s about some apps, some authentication like payments, and by the way, health and fitness. But that’s it. I could get really into the weeds on this and people just want to know whether they should buy a Fitbit or an Apple Watch.
I think that if you’re considering buying an Apple Watch and you’ve been happy for the most part with Fitbit and what you can do with a Fitbit, you should probably look at something like the Apple Watch Series 1 or the Apple Watch Series 3 without LTE, because I don’t think you necessarily need to pay $399 for LTE if you’re just looking for health and fitness tracking
KS: All right. Good question. Next one, we’re gonna get through the rest of these. Email from Doug Allen: “I just care about making phone calls, Bluetooth headset with mic, texting and playing music. Do I have to have a phone? Can I port my current number over to the Watch? For that matter, does my old phone have a new phone number?” I don’t know, but no. Or course not.
And maybe they’re asking if the watch has a number.
KS: Watch has a phone number. Go ahead.
This current generation, I believe you cannot just put your phone number over to your watch. It uses, let’s call it an electronic SIM, it’s actually using the same number and account as your phone.
KS: Someday, presumably.
Someday, of course, yeah. Probably, but right now, you could just leave your phone at home, but I don’t think you can get just a watch-only connection at this point.
KS: Watch phone. Sorry, Dick Tracy, can’t do it yet.
LG: Yeah. I hate to be the Debbie Downer here too, and I keep coming back to this ...
KS: Did you just say Debbie Downer?
LG: Yeah. No, now that someone wrote in that I’m the sweet one, I mean, I have to ...
KS: We’ll get to that, can you relax? We’re two questions away if you’d hurry up. Go ahead, go for it.
LG: But the battery life thing. It’s a real thing. I think right now with the watch alone, running, using cellular, you get one hour of talk time or something like that. And then the watch is dead. So you’re not gonna want to use this as your main cellular device.
KS: No, you’re not. Okay.
Anshul Kapoor, one of our fans, @IamAnshul: “Why did Apple do exclusive carry deals for Watch 3 when it doesn’t have to for the phones? Why limit consumer choice?” One of you? Lauren? You don’t know.
I think because there’s a non-trivial amount of work that they had to do to get carriers to support this electronic SIM, and to market the new Apple Watch, so they went with their partners that they thought would do the heavy lifting for them, and they’ll probably add more as time goes on.
KS: Good explanation. All right, next one for Lauren, thoughts on the red crown on the LTE watch? What do you think Lauren?
LG: The red crown is something that is a little bit befuddling because it sends an outwards signal to the world that you are wearing a watch that has LTE connectivity when you are really the only person who needs to know that. Once you’ve purchased the Apple Watch Series 3,with LTE, you yourself know, you spent $399, and you are paying $10 a month extra to whoever your wireless carrier is, to have these capabilities, and so you look down at your watch, and you know that if you had to, you could use it as LTE, as a cellular calling device. I don’t know why it needs to have a red dot to tell the world that you have an LTE watch. It’s a differentiator, it’s some type of design differentiator.
KS: All right. Well, you don’t like it then. Okay. So two more quick questions, so very quick you guys.
This is Craig Barger, “Thank you for your podcast.” I can’t believe I’m reading this. “I especially appreciate Lauren’s sweet nature keeping Kara in check. Kara’s Arianna voice is a hoot. Anyway, I was just about to buy AirPods, but Tim Cook alluded to a new wireless charging case. Do you know if Apple’s gonna be releasing new AirPods in 2018 or just a new case?” It’s just the new case, right? Correct?
I think so.
KS: Just a case, right, Lauren?
LG: I don’t know. Whatever, I’m not sweet.
KS: No, not that part.
LG: You guys can do the rest of the damn show.
KS: Oh my God, you’re not good at being Kara Swisher. It doesn’t work for you.
LG: Not really, no.
I’ll say they may have changed something on the way that they make AirPods, and maybe their process is getting better, but I don’t think the product is changing.
KS: It’s not a big upgrade. I think the big upgrade would be when they make them look less ugly. I think that’s really the next upgrade, don’t you think?
All right. Last question and very quickly, thoughts, tech coolness — and by the way, Lauren is not sweet, let’s just get that clear. (Arianna voice:) “Let me just tell you, Lauren is not ... Kara Swisher is the best person ever.” Arianna just ran in and then ran out.
Okay. “Thoughts on diversity or lack thereof during Apple’s keynote?” And then related by Todd York, “Discuss the irony of having a female Apple employee paddling alone on a body of water, calling into the event, great imaging, why was there only one female executive from Apple onstage? Do not discuss her Blackberry trench unless you discuss the untucked shirts of the overweight Apple execs.” I’m not gonna read the rest.
LG: Burberry, it’s a Burberry trench. Blackberry’s ...
KS: ... and this Burberry shirt, something about Racked not covering it. I’m not gonna go into that, ’cause that’s not nice. But let’s talk about the diversity issue,
LG: Why the lack thereof? They had Angela onstage.
Yeah. This is a real issue for Apple and every big tech company, they know that, they’re just gonna hire a new senior executive team to get more women and people of color on there. That said, they have been making some progress there, they have been getting more women onstage overall. I used to have a chart where it was almost none at all, but they’re not gonna get rid of Phil Schiller so they could have a woman modeling the iPhone or something like that.
KS: Yeah, that’s true. Lauren, thoughts?
LG: I agree with Dan in the sense that it’s indicative of a larger problem. The problem isn’t how many women they had onstage, the problem is how few women they have in their senior and executive rankings that they could put onstage. There, of course, are other women, we can talk about someone like Jennifer Bailey, who runs Apple Pay. Or Lisa Jackson, who’s the head of their environmental policy department, essentially.
There are other women who they could have put onstage but for whatever reason,they chose not to. And yes, they did put a woman named Deidre Caldbeck, who I believe works in Apple Watch, out on a paddleboard in the middle of nowhere and it had her call in to show the calling capabilities from Apple Watch. It would have been nice if maybe Deidre didn’t have to go on a paddleboard.
KS: Paddled right in to the stage at the beautiful Steve Jobs Theater. Let me just say.
LG: Yeah. It is a thing. All tech events. And by the way, there are some tech events that I’ve been to that are certainly ... have been almost more offensive in their approach to how they depicted women.
KS: Yep. I get you.
LG: But there aren’t enough.
KS: I think, you’re saying it’s a thing. It’s a thing and it’s gotta be fixed.
LG: It’s a real thing.
That’s a long-term problem.
KS: No, well, it needs to be fixed.
It’s both. But it’s also a long-term problem.
KS: Yeah. Absolutely. All right. This has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Dan, thank you for joining us.
LG: Thank you so much for joining us, Dan. That was really fun.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.