“One of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. You may never meet the people, shake their hands, hear their story or tell yours, but somehow in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there.” Steve Jobs’ words opened today’s Apple keynote—the first in the theater named for him on the new campus he began to imagine over a decade ago as a “workspace within a landscape.” The two-hour keynote, led by Tim Cook, followed Apple’s usual format and included all of the announcements we were expecting based on the rumor mill: iPhone X, iPhone 8, Apple Watch 3 and Apple TV 4K. Yet, it was a historic day. The iPhone X is a major leap forward and a fitting honor for the device’s 10th anniversary and the first event at Apple’s new “Park” revealed a piece of the output born from the care and love that Steve was referring to. The energy transmitted in that Foster + Partners-designed space was remarkable.
The Steve Jobs Theater rests on a hill outside the main ring of the Apple Park. The entry level is a 165-foot-diameter cylinder made from 20-foot-tall glass and topped with a metallic carbon-fiber roof. Not only does the glass hold the roof up, all of the ceiling services, like sprinklers and lights, are routed overhead through the seams between the planes of glass in a presentation of genius that could only be born from a collaboration between Apple and Foster + Partners. A pair of terrazzo staircases seem extruded from the sandstone walls of the lower floor winding you down to the theater entrance. Handrails are carved into the stone and offer such a warm touch that you want to use them even if you don’t need the support. For those who prefer an elevator, there’s an inner glass cylinder with a platform on a gently spiraling track, literally adding a twist to the otherwise straightforward experience of riding a lift.
Descending to the entrance level of the 1,000-person auditorium for the first time, it was easy to miss that the inner wall was in-fact retractable. After their keynotes Apple always offers the opportunity to get hands on with the products they’ve announced and the demo room at the new theater is what lies behind that retractable wall. And it’s fully retractable. Logic tells you that it’s hidden away, but it’s so well executed that one easily forgets there was a wall there moments earlier.
“Apple has always believed that technology infused with humanity can improve people’s lives and change the world,” Tim Cook reminded us when beginning his announcement of the new phones. “Our intention has been to create something so magical that the hardware disappears.” And with the iPhone X the hardware really does disappear behind the screen that covers the entire surface of the phone. The tactility of the device’s glass back matches its front and the transition between glass and surgical steel edging is seamless, reinforcing this idea—you’re just holding a piece of glass. It’s that simple. Unlocking without a fingerprint sensor is as easy as a glance and swiping instead of pressing a home button is very easy to adjust to. All you see is screen which is delightful given the new OLED screen that is simultaneously brilliant, rich and crisp. And don’t worry, the keyboard placement is where you’re used to it, as if there was still a bezel below, because pushing it all the way to the bottom would compromise usability.
There are so many game-changing features on the iPhone X, it’s best to just check them out on Apple’s website. The iPhone X will be available for pre-order on 27 October and will ship on 3 November. There are 64GB and 256GB versions for $999 and $1149 respectively.
Steve Jobs Theater Images by Josh Rubin (shot on iPhone 7+), iPhone X image courtesy of Apple