The new Apple iPhone Xs Max (right) and iPhone Xs rest on a table during a launch event in Cupertino, California. The new Apple iPhone Xs Max (right) and iPhone Xs rest on a table during a launch event in Cupertino, California. The new Apple iPhone Xs Max (right) and iPhone Xs rest on a table during a launch event in Cupertino, California. (Photo: Noah Berger / AFP/Getty Images)

Apple's new iPhone XS has roots in Israel

The model uses facial recognition and augmented reality technologies developed in Mediterranean R&D facilities.

Apple, America's first trillion dollar company, unveiled its new line of iPhones at an event on Wednesday afternoon at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif.

Called the iPhone XS, it's faster and has a longer battery life. The larger iPhone XS Max has a massive 6.5 inch retina display with 3.3 million pixels. It's the biggest display ever on an iPhone. The new phones also allow you to have two different numbers attached to the same phone. "It is by far the most advanced iPhone we’ve ever created," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. The company also introduced a more affordable phone, called the iPhone XR.

The new phones take advantage of several technologies developed at Apple's three research and development facilities in Israel. Its largest is a 180,000-square-foot Mediterranean R&D lab in the coastal Israeli city of Herzliya. It is Apple's largest outside of the United States.

Last year's iPhone X introduced the Face ID feature which allows people to use their own face as their password. Employing a new chip, called the A12 Bionic, the Face ID will launch apps up to 30% faster. In 2017, Apple acquired the Israeli startup RealFace, which provides technology for your face to unlock your iPhone.

The new phones also include some augmented reality (AR) features as well. One, for example, allows you to point your camera at an item and the camera will measure that item. Another tool that uses the AR technology lets you take a picture off a web page and put it in a real-world environment. So, say you're looking at a coffeemaker on Amazon. Then, simply point your camera at your kitchen counter and the phone will show you exactly how the coffeemaker will look sitting on your countertop.

According to analysts at UBS, Apple already has 1,000 engineers in Israel working on augmented reality. The company is widely expected to introduce an AR headset in 2020. Cook has referred to AR as a technology that “will transform the way you work, play, connect, and learn.”

The R&D centers in Israel continue to expand, with 128 job openings now available – mostly in software and hardware engineering.

An aerial view of downtown Herzliya in Israel. An aerial view of downtown Herzliya in Israel where Apple's Israel R&D offices are located. (Photo: Roman Yanushevsky / Shutterstock)

In addition to RealFace, Apple has made three more acquisitions of Israeli startups:

  • In 2011, it acquired Anobit, whose flash memory technologies helped in creating the largest storage available on an iPhone – 256 gigabytes.
  • In 2014, it added PrimeSense which is behind the "3D touch" home button which reacts differently depending on how hard you press it.
  • In 2015, LinX Computational Imaging that produces innovative cameras for smartphones and tablets.

With this expansion in Israel, it should come as no surprise that in 2014, Apple also moved to shore up its corporate connection to the country, appointing Israel-born Johny Srouji to Vice President of Hardware Technologies. Srouji, a graduate of Israel's Technion Institute of Technology, is responsible for many of Apple’s industry-leading devices.

"Apple is in Israel because the engineering talent and the brilliance of the people are incredible," Cook said during a visit to Israel. "We have an enormous admiration for Israel."


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