Among the flurry of school-aged children flooding the streets returning to school, there were some bigger kids who were completely stoked! Why you ask? Why else except for the fact that the latest and greatest versions of our favorite toys for work and play were unveiled by Apple at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.
The word “AWESOME” comes to mind after looking at the newest kit to come out of Cupertino via live stream. First, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, unveiled a line of Apple Watch bands that were designed by Hermes. The leather looked every bit of the quality you could expect from a premium designer such as Hermes. Cook touted the advances and magical things that people have accomplished with Apple Watch, particularly fitness goals. He added that Apple Watch can be used by medical professionals to collect important health data particularly from expecting mothers and send that data to their doctors so that their health metrics can be tracked. The next version of the watch operating system Watch OS2 will be available for consumer consumption on September 16. This seemed to me (and echoed I’m sure by others who viewed the event) a bit of a tease.
Apple Watch is cool, but the rumors of a larger version of the iPad was what people hoped would make a presence. Much like a child who puts out cookies for Santa, we hoped that this larger, stronger better iPad would come. Well, we were not disappointed. With palpable SIGH…we were shown the newest member of the Apple family – the iPad Pro. This is one beautiful sliver of metal and glass. I say sliver because while it is big with a diagonal viewing area of 12.9 inches, it is incredibly thin, coming in at 6.99 mm. This is not much bigger than that other bit of sexy kit, the iPad Air 2. While Apple’s site is being updated, some of those details include: four stereo speakers, 10 hour battery life, 8 megapixel iSight camera, 80.11 ac MIMO wifi and a super thin sporting a resolution that is effectively more than 5 million pixels.
Not to be outdone, it has two fantastic accessories. First is the keyboard. It’s very similar to some that you have seen used with tablets like the Surface, in that it also serves as the case. However, since this is an Apple product there is that little twist to the execution and it looks like the iPad Pro and its new keyboard accessory just belong together. However, Apple took it to a whole other level with the other accessory, the Pencil. This accessory is designed to work hand in hand with the iPad Pro and is so precise. Apple states that it can identify a single pixel with its tip. It can not only be used for handwriting, but even replicate the finer points of sketching as if it were done with an actual pencil. It can carry a charge for three months and has a lightning adapter at one end that allows it to be recharged by inserting it into the lightning port on the iPad Pro. Pricing: $799 for the 32 GB wifi model, $949 for 128 GB wifi model, $1,079 for wifi and 4g/LTE model.
Microsoft & Adobe Features
Apple also had Microsoft…yes, that Microsoft, on the stage to speak on the new Office features as they relate to the iPad Pro, particularly the new ability to run two office apps side by side and copy data between them. Also, Adobe showcased some new apps in a design suite that will be especially designed to work on the iPad Pro and with the Pencil accessory.
Apple TV & Siri
Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, played a big role today. All I could say was “WOW” when they unveiled the newest version of Apple TV. While it is a little taller than the previous version, it otherwise has similar dimensions to its older sibling. However, it’s been upgraded with Siri. The new device now has even more integration with the App Store and iTunes. In fact, Apple said that the future of TV viewing is via apps, with about 80% being via an Apple device. As such, the new Apple TV will have redesigned apps that allow you to do more. For example, you can ask Siri to display a show or to even look up that movie that had a certain character or actor that you like and Siri will search through all apps/channels, including Hulu and premium cable channels like HBO. If you miss what a character on a show said, you can ask Siri what the character said. The assistant will then rewind the show and play it back for you while turning on the closed captioning.
Remote as Games Controller
The remote is now black and has a glass front and replicates the swiping experience found on the iPhone and iPad. Also, the remote also serves as a controller for games that can be played on Apple TV. This setup seems to be similar to the look and feel of a Wii, but with better graphics and a smaller form factor. To top it off, you can use an iPhone and/or iPad to play games on Apple TV. Pricing is: $149 for the 32 GB model and $199 for the 64GB model.
Not to be outdone, the newest iterations of the iPhones (iPhone 6s, iPhone 6+s) brought their own AWESOMENESS. While they maintain their same dimensions, the newer phones have a plethora of new features, such as: the body being made from a new alloy; 3D touch – which makes the home screen give you more information; the ability to recognize the force of your touch on the phone’s surface, a 12MP iSight camera; the ability to shoot 4k video, a 5MP front facing camera (for face time/selfies); a 63MP panorama; a new flash system; and live pictures.
What’s cool about this feature is that you take a picture as you normally would, but it looks like the phone buffers some of the images and puts them together so that when you view the picture, you get a few seconds of motion. Apple was clear to tell the audience that this was not a video, but emphasized that it just “extends the moment.”
Pricing: iPhone 5S is free; iPhone 6 is $99; IPhone 6+ is $199; iPhone 6s: $199; iPhone 6s+ is $299 so the phones are priced the same as they usually are after the Fall event. Apple did say that they have a new program in their stores whereby a customer can get a free iPhone once a year including Apple Care for $384 per year. The new phones can be pre-ordered on 9/12 and will be available 9/24 and the available sizes remain either 16GB, 64GB or 128GB.
Google Play Transfer App
Apple touted the amount of converts from Android to IOS, that there are more switching every day, and announced an app available now in the Google Play store that an Android owner would download to their device and which will assist the owner in transferring their data to an iPhone. Further, Apple tweaked its iCloud pricing. While the lowest tier is 5GB and free, the next tier is 50GB at 99 cents per month. After this, there is 200 GB at $2.99 per month, followed by 1TB at $9.99 per month.
It was a well deserved moment in the sun for Apple. If the new devices and upcoming OS X update (El Capitan – available for consumers on 9/16) live up to the hype that was shown to those in attendance in person and via live stream, then Apple has done it again!