Apple unveils wireless headphones among updates

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The iPhone 7 Plus (rear) and iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 Plus (rear) and iPhone 7

Apple’s latest product releases continue the company’s recent trend of making small but steady improvements to its devices. The biggest surprise, perhaps, was the unveiling of new wireless in-ear headphones.

At its annual fall event, Apple showed off the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus smartphones as well as the Apple Watch Series 2. (The original Apple Watch was renamed the Apple Watch Series 1.) The products have several important and mostly welcome updates.

The most notable iPhone 7 updates include:

* A new quad-core processor,

* Battery life that’s 2 hours longer than that of the iPhone 6s,

* Water-resistant capability of up to a depth of 1 meter (about 3 feet) for up to 30 minutes,

* As many experts expected, the subtraction of the standard analog headphone jack.

In place of the analog headphone jack is a single Lightning port for both charging and headphones. Apple says it will include a Lighting-to-analog adapter with each iPhone 7. The larger iPhone 7 Plus receives all of the same updates (with 1 hour more battery life than the iPhone 6s Plus) but adds a second rear-facing 12MP camera that has a wide-angle lens.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 2 adds waterproof capability up to 50 meters (about 160 feet), which means that you can wear it while you swim, and built-in GPS, which, Apple says, makes for more-accurate step counts without your phone nearby.

Apple's new AirPods

Apple's new AirPods

However, with its AirPods, Apple broke ground by introducing its first wireless headphone. The headphones include a low-power chip, sensors and accelerometers, so they play only when they sense being in a person’s ears and include noise-canceling microphones when you switch to a phone call. They come in a case that holds up to 24 hours of listening time in a charge.

The AirPods are expected to go on sale in October 2016 for $159. They will work only with devices that run iOS 10, watch OS 3 (both of which are expected to be released Sept. 13, 2016) or macOS Sierra, which is out now.

Orders for the new iPhones and Apple Watch are scheduled to begin Sept. 9, 2016, with delivery and store sales to begin Sept. 16, 2016. Prices:

* The iPhone 7 will start at $649 for a 32GB model. The iPhone 7 Plus will start at $769 for a 32GB model. Models also come in 128GB and 256GB sizes. The colors include black, gold, rose gold and silver. A new jet black finish will be available only in 128GB and 256GB models.

* The Apple Watch Series 2 will start at $369, and Apple unveiled a special running-based Nike co-branded model, the Apple Watch Nike Plus, that also will start at $369. The renamed Apple Watch Series 1 received a new dual-core processor and will start at $269.

Meanwhile, Apple announced new prices for its holdover smartphone models. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will be sold in 32GB and 128GB sizes, starting at $549 and $649, respectively. The 4-inch iPhone SE will come in 16GB and 128GB versions, starting at $399. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were discontinued.