Apple Event: Computational Audio, 5G and AR studio spaces

In its hotly-anticipated follow-up to the September event, Apple‘s October event brought forth five new products. The HomePod Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max make their way into the world with a plethora of new features that may pique the interests of pro audio enthusiasts.

Admittedly, we music technologists are not the target demographic for Apple’s new unveiling. It’s hard to ignore, however, the advances that the company is making in our world and what it may mean for our roles in the pro audio industry.

iPhone 12 Max Pro
Image: Apple

Computational Audio

While HomePod Mini is certainly small in stature at 8.5cm, it’s audio capabilities are not to be underestimated. The headline-grabbing feature is Computational Audio. Using the new S5 chip, HomePod Mini analyses “unique characteristics of the music” over 180 times a second and applies “complex tuning models” to fine-tune loudness and dynamic range, according to Apple. It also controls the movement of the full-range driver – powered by a neodymium magnet – and force-cancelling pair of passive radiators.

Apple HomePod Mini
Image: Apple

Taking a leaf out of its own book, Apple used technology found in the original HomePod to create an immersive 360-degree audio experience for the HomePod Mini. It works by directing the flow of audio down and out the bottom of the speaker, allowing you to place it anywhere you like and hear the same consistent sound. Three microphones are housed in the unit to pick up the “Hey Siri” command, while a fourth inward-facing mic helps to isolate sound emitting from the speaker to enhance voice detection.

Other features in the HomePod include a personalised experience for iPhone customers, with Siri detecting who is speaking to tailor music and podcasts to their tastes; intuitive integration with iPhone to hand off music from one device to another; smart home features such as Intercom; privacy and security features; and more.

Apple HomePod Mini family
Image: Apple

Apple’s HomePod Mini will be available this Autumn at a price of £99/$99.

A new generation

5G has been on the horizon for Apple for some time, having been available on quite a few Samsung devices already this year. It’s wise then, that the four new iPhones are hitting the shelves this Autumn are 5G enabled. The iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max all come equipped for high-speed streaming, uploading and browsing.

This is an important development in the music technology world, particularly during a pandemic where the internet keeps most of us connected. Music-making apps like BandLab cater for online collaboration, but real-time jamming over Zoom has proven near-impossible with latency issues. The jaw-dropping speeds of 5G will surely fix this. Not to mention how useful it will be for the mobile DJ who will be able to instantly stream tracks from SoundCloud GO+, Beatport Link and other streaming platforms.

With an A14 Bionic chip with a 16-core Neural Engine, running said music-making apps should be a breeze, too.

Apple iPhone 12 mini

Going Pro

Naturally, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max boast more advanced features than the standard and Mini versions of iPhone. The spotlight shone on the powerful new cameras, which are, frankly, rather impressive. We won’t pretend to be connoisseurs of photography and camera equipment here, but Apple showcased a range of professional uses for the new cameras. Perhaps with the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, making a home music video will yield results more impressive than ever before.

An exciting new feature that we can take stock of is the LiDAR Scanner, which can deliver realistic AR experiences. Augmented Reality has become a useful feature for gauging how big a keyboard might be in your studio space and the new LiDAR technology might make these measurements far more accurate. In the Apple Event, the company demonstrated how the phone was used to virtually arrange a medical ward. We like to imagine how this may aid in the building of new studio spaces, visualising how a new console or rack might look in a room.

Of course, Apple’s new devices come with many new features that are suited to video games, durability, video editing and more.

Apple’s iPhone 12 range starts at £699/$699

Find out more about Apple’s new products at apple.com 

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