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Broadband and Mobility

Apple Event Showcases New Machine Learning Technology

The Apple Event was today, and Apple made a series of interesting announcements about its iPhone lineup. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were announced, and the rumored iPhone X was confirmed. These new iPhones offer more powerful processing via Apple's new A11 chip, as well as an Apple-designed GPU. This allows Apple to offer on-device machine learning and computer vision-enabled abilities which enable a number of new use cases.

Apple's machine learning tech enables:

  • Native support for augmented reality - in the new lineup, Apple's hardware and software is integrated for AR, offering accurate motion-tracking at 60 frames-per-second
  • Portrait Lighting - the iPhone 8 Plus offers a new portrait lighting feature where the camera app recognizes the subject of the portrait, "lifts" them from the background environment, and allows users to change lighting conditions in-app
  • Facial recognition - Apple announced its new 3D facial-recognition technology - "Face ID" - which replaces Touch ID in the iPhone X model


iPhone owners are traditionally heavier users of phone features such as voice recognition, Wi-Fi calling, streaming to a Bluetooth speaker or second screen, and turning their phones into mobile hotspots than are Android owners, which bodes well for Apple's ambitions with augmented reality and biometrics. With the release of Apple's augmented reality framework (ARKit) alongside iOS 11 on September 19th, iOS will effectively be the largest AR platform in existence.

The market share of iPhones has been growing in the U.S. in the past three years, thanks to incremental innovations on hardware and software and easy upgrade programs from mobile operators. As of Q2 2017, almost half of all consumer-reported smartphones in U.S. broadband households are iPhones. Roughly half of iPhone users in U.S. broadband households report owning a model that is two years old or older, and are very likely to upgrade their model in the coming cycle - whether it's to the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or the iPhone X. This is equivalent to roughly 23M U.S. households.

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