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Apple Making the World Safe for ‘Slofies’—Data Sheet

The tagline on an introductory video at Apple’s annual fall product event was: “Give people wonderful tools and they’ll do wonderful things.” It might as well have been: “Give people awesome cameras on their iPhones and they’ll shoot brilliant photos and gorgeous videos.” It was a day of price decreases and incremental product improvements that might have been mistaken for a shutterbug convention. My unscientific reckoning is that half the 100-minute event was devoted to photography and videography.

My quick thoughts and takeaways, with links to our more in-depth coverage, on each product segment:

1. Games. Apple debuted its Apple Arcade game app and subscription service, at $5 a month. TAKEAWAY: Another subscription for consumers to mull.

2. Apple TV+. New series The Morning Show and See look great and many viewers will want to watch them. But will they subscribe for another $5 month? (Buyers of phones, tablets, and computers will get a free subscription for a year.) TAKEAWAY: Apple’s price is the industry’s lowest, but its library of original shows will be the smallest.

3. iPad. The company’s seventh-generation device is shinier (“a magical piece of glass,” said veteran product marketer Greg Joswiak), more powerful, and cheaper than some of its predecessors. TAKEAWAY: Apple’s tablets and laptops continue to merge, with the iPad delivering a once-unheard-of punch at a once-unheard-of price.

4. Apple Watch. As if it were a Business Roundtable-sanctioned product debut, the gadget maker led with its watch’s health-related and otherwise life-improving attributes. Then it showed new colors and bands. TAKEAWAY: The closest thing Apple has had to a product hit under CEO Tim Cook continues to improve—and do cool stuff.

5. iPhone. Apple showed off its great cameras, both for its new top line iPhone 11 (not XI) and toppier line iPhone 11 Pro. It also entered the expression “slofies,” or slow-motion selfies, into the lexicon. TAKEAWAY: Consumers who think of their phone as a camera that makes phone calls will love Apple’s new line. Everyone else likely will stick with their increasingly reliable older models.

Adam Lashinsky

On Twitter: @adamlashinsky

Email: [email protected]

NEWSWORTHY

Innovation only. One other bit of Apple news: ace software spelunker Steve Troughton-Smith found code in iOS 13 referencing a headset for running augmented reality apps. Maybe an October event, Tim Cook? More likely, it’s at least a year away from debuting.

On the clock. It’s not looking good for the gig economy in California. The state senate passed a bill to classify workers doing things like driving for Uber and delivering for Postmates as full-blown employees, not independent contractors, thus blowing up the business model of said companies. The bill still has to be approved by the state assembly and signed by the governor.

Empty desks. Even without any nasty, new laws, some of said companies are having problems. For the second time in three months, Uber is cutting staff, confirming on Tuesday that it laid off 435 employees—265 from engineering and 170 from its product team. In July, the company cut 400 employees from its marketing department.

Do you want fries with that? The Golden Arches are getting more techie. McDonalds made a second large, A.I.-related acquisition, buying voice ordering specialist Apprente for an undisclosed sum. The fast food chain bought online pricing startup Dynamic Yield in March for a reported $300 million.

You’re fading out. Video conferencing sensation Zoom is having problems in China. As of Monday, the service appeared to be blocked by government authorities there. Zoom said it is “continuing to investigate this issue.”

There’s a hole in the bucket. A South African company that owns a chunk of a Chinese company went public, sort of, in Europe, creating an entirely new tech conglomerate valued at $133 billion. South Africa’s Naspers put its international holdings, including ownership stakes in China’s Tencent, Russia’s Mail.ru, and Germany’s Delivery Hero, into a vehicle called Prosus, which listed on the Amsterdam exchange on Wednesday. Its price immediately shot up 25%.

Ones and zeroes. Credit card giant Mastercard said it will work with blockchain startup R3 on a pilot program to speed up cross-border payments. Elsewhere in crypto land, Amazon said customers could start using its web-based blockchain service dubbed the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Just when we were getting excited about the new Netflix documentary on Bill Gates, due out on Sept. 20, came the charges that he’d somehow allowed Jeffrey Epstein to steer a donation to MIT’s Media Lab. A representative for Gates said the account was “simply not true.” Now Gates has given an interview to John Jurgensen at the Wall Street Journal about all sorts of matters, including explaining his association with the deceased criminal:
 
I met him. I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him. I didn’t go to New Mexico or Florida or Palm Beach or any of that. There were people around him who were saying, hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people. Every meeting where I was with him were meetings with men. I was never at any parties or anything like that. He never donated any money to anything that I know about.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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Sean Parker Invests in the Peter Jackson VFX Studio Behind ‘Avatar’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ By Aric Jenkins

Is the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program Worth It? By Don Reisinger

WeWork IPO: There’s a ‘Tug and Pull’ Over Valuation Between Insiders and Potential Investors By Anne Sraders

What We Learned From The Fortune Global Sustainability Forum By Eamon Barrett

BEFORE YOU GO

There will be some interesting things to read next week, including NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden’s new memoir, Permanent Record. The 350-page book recounts Snowden’s career from life as a CIA officer to his work on the NSA’s massive surveillance system.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.