On Wednesday, Apple announced a bunch of new products. During the keynote address of an event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium that was just one big keynote address, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the word "incredible" a lot, and promised "monster announcements across several of our product lines."
After a bit of talk about some new features for the Apple Watch (mostly medical applications and new cosmetic options), they moved on to the main event: new products. There's a new giant iPad called the iPad Pro, a new Apple TV that's also kind of like a game console, a new line of iPhones called the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.
THE NEW GIANT IPAD called "iPad Pro":
Cook called the iPad the "clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing," and promised that today's announcement was "the biggest news in iPad since the iPad." Get it? He meant literally biggest. Maybe in the hopes of recapturing some lost consumer enthusiasm for the iPad, Apple has introduced one with a bigger screen. They announced it by rolling a video showing their massive new tablet drifting through space like a Star Destroyer (see above).
These come out in November. The cheapest one will be $799 for 32GB. There'll be a 128GB Model for $949. You can also pay $1,079 for a 128GB version with LTE.
At 12.9 inches it's not exactly the "iCoffeeTable" some of us imagined in years past, that would have competed with novelty Android tablets and touchscreen-enabled TVs. Instead, it's less than an inch bigger than the screens on the current line of MacBooks. Big, but not something you can go surfing on.
The iPad Pro has an upgraded processor "1.8X faster" than the current top of the line. The added speed, along with its bigness and extremely high resolution retina display (2732 x 2048, the highest resolution of any iOS device), allows it to run two apps side-by-side in a sort of modified, asymmetrical dual portrait mode.
There were also new accessories. There's something called the iPad Smart Keyboard, which is folded into the cover, much the way Windows Tablets have an integrated rubberized keyboard. That will set you back $169. Then they rolled out a stylus, which they've dubbed the "Apple Pencil."
People screamed at the announcement of the stylus, probably because they're old-school Apple people who feel feelings about the Newton, an early 90s Apple tablet that came with a pointed stick. Apple Pencil costs $99.
THE NEW APPLE TV THAT'S ALSO KIND OF LIKE A GAME CONSOLE:
There are 389,035 ways to stream content to your TV over the internet, and Apple TV is Apple's. It's neither a hit nor a flop, it's just a thing that's kind of been there since the product was released in 2007. But Tim Cook has ambitions with the new Apple TV. He complained that TV was technologically stagnant and said, "Today we are going to do something about that."
What they're doing about that is, they're adding apps, Cook explained. But while third party apps for your TV are probably going to add functionality none of us know we want yet, the most impressive out-of-the box feature was—as dumb as this sounds—integration with Siri, assuming it works the way it looked in the demo.
"Show me the episode of Modern Family with Edward Norton," Jen Folse (above) said into the new Apple TV remote—which has bluetooth, and charges like an iPhone. It searched across streaming services, and dug up that one particular episode. A moment later, when an actress's line-reading was a little hard to understand during playback, Folse went "What'd she say?" And Siri jumped back 15 seconds and temporarily turned the subtitles on. Which shows that when they were building this new Apple TV, they put in some thought about how people watch TV now.
The new Apple TV has a completely revamped operating system called TVOS, and it's going to allow you to browse a TV section of the App Store. Some of those Apps are games. Very Wii-ish games.
They spent a few minutes demoing a version of Crossy Road, which is an iOS game that's basically Frogger but with chickens. The message: There will be games, but don't expect Call of Duty.
When this comes out in late October, the $149 version will be 32GB, or you can pay $199 for a 64GB.
THE NEW LINE OF IPHONES—iPhone 6S and 6S Plus:
Maybe more than anything else in the lead up to New Product Rollout Day, Apple somehow got us all wondering whether the inevitable new iPhones would come with a new model number (7), or an "S" suffix.
It's an "S," and the biggest cosmetic difference with this is that you can get them in gold, and a popular new "rose gold." But never fear: the iPhone 6S and the still-rather-huge iPhone 6S Plus have had their guts tweaked as well.
The flagship innovation seems to be "3D Touch," a new force-sensitive clicking ability. It's not unlike "Force Touch" the creepily-named tactile feedback feature recently introduced on Apple Watches and Retina MacBook Pros. It allows you to tap something, or click a little more deeply, as it were, and get a different response. The demo showed how it can be used to preview the body of an email. Instagram offered a similar previewing option with 3D Click. Time will tell what uses other third party developers find for this, but they're creative people.
As far as other updates, the computer brain of the new iPhone has been beefed up—there's an A9 Chip and M9 Processor if that means anything to you. Apple showed that off by showing a guy playing graphics-intensive games, so you know it's working. The rear-facing camera is 12 megapixels, and can now take 4K video, in case you can find a 4K screen to play it on. They also played up the ability to take serious photos, even in low-light conditions, promising that their samples weren't retouched:
Photos come with a new software option called "Live Photos," which, when turned on, captures 1.5 seconds of video just before and after you snap the photo, creating this effect where the subject seems to be "alive." It's a little bit like a newspaper in the Harry Potter universe when you scroll through your photos. Presumably, photos of recently-dead loved ones will be more devastating than ever.
The subsidized price of the new line of iPhones—meaning you pay for a more expensive plan in exchange for a phone with a lower price out the door—is no different than the current starter price for the flagship phone: $299 for the cheapest one. But, noting that customers pay on installment plans, they revealed that you can also pay retail at $31-a-month on a two-year plan.
And for the hyper-consumer of Apple stuff, they also rolled out a new "iPhone Upgrade Program," which gets you a new iPhone every year if you pay $32 per month, forever if you want, because the product cycles will never end, and there will be something new for you to upgrade to every year until you are dead.
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