A quick recap of the many key announcements from Apple’s September event
Apple launches September 2015
So far as Apple events roll, this particular one was rather different. For starters, there was a Microsoft executive on stage presenting MS Office. Then there was instance upon instance announcements that reaffirmed rumors that were swirling over the past several weeks. Unlike the days of yore where Apple launch secrets were as closely guarded as nuclear launch codes, large swathes of information on what was launched earlier today was actually out there in the wild in the ramp up.
Not to say that this dampened the effect in any way. It was an Apple event after all. And there were many things to talk about. Without going into the history and geography of things, here then is a quick recap of all the key takeaways on Cupertino’s latest offerings.
What’s new: There is added support for third-party app features, such as the ability to use the Apple Watch as a viewfinder when using the GoPro app with a mounted camera. Also announced was a range of added color options for the Apple Watch Sport including gold and rose gold. On the higher end of the scale, we saw a newly-unveiled Apple Watch launched in conjunction with French couture brand Hermes, complete with custom handstitched leather straps and bespoke watchfaces with congruent iconography. These watches will have an updated OS–watchOS 2–coming out 16 September.
Availability: October 2015, in select Apple stores.
Price: Not yet announced. But expect it to be a hefty bundle.
What’s new: What could perhaps have been the biggest announcement of the day, the iPad Pro marks Apple’s new marquee tablet. With its bumped up 12.9-inch screen it packs 2732 x 2048 pixels into its retina display, making it sharper than even a 15-inch MacBook Pro. The tablet uses the new 3rd gen 64-bit A9X chip, while boasting twice the memory and storage bandwidth compared to its predecessor. These enhanced processing enables running even graphically demand apps simultaneously in split-screen view. It is purportedly able to edit even 50MP images in real time. The iPad Pro runs on the updated iOS 9, which facilitates this improved multitasking along with enhancements in multitouch, Siri and Spotlight search.
The tablet’s subsystem now has four speakers that boasts enhanced audio fidelity, with the ability to automatically balance the high frequencies in relation to the orientation of the device. Also announced were two shiny new accessories: the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. When used with the former, the iPad Pro can precisely detect factors like tip position, force and even pencil tilt with ultra-low latency, making for several new creative on-screen visualisation capabilities–artists rejoice. The new Smart Keyboard features real, full-sized keys that are built into the folio, which interfaces with the iPad Pro via their traditionally elegant magnetic connector.
Availability: November 2015
Price: 32GB Wifi ($799), 128GB Wifi ($949), 128GB Wifi+Cellular ($1079), Pencil ($99), Smart Keyboard ($169)
iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus
What’s new: The primary difference between the two new phones is in their screen size and resolution–the iPhone 6S is 4.7-inches (1334 x 750) while the 6S Plus is 5.5 inches (1920 x 1080.) But under that sheet metal, there are of course several new feature bumps compared to its predecessor.
The biggest announcement here is the new 3D Touch–the ability for the phone’s screen to recognize pressure. This opens a range of usability scenarios like like soft-pressing an email to peek into it, then fully pressing to open it. This pressure sensitivity is also built into other user interface scenarios including launching the front cam and previewing photos, scrolling between photos in the gallery, even specialized control within compatible games. This effect was especially vivid in the new ‘Live Photos’ feature that create a Vine-like effect by capturing a second-and-a-half of shots before and after you take a photo for a subtly animated effect.
Common to both models is the A9 chip (along with the M9 motion co-processor), along with an f/2.2 12MP iSight primary camera (although only the 6S Plus gets optical image stabilization.) This camera can capture a panorama up to 63 megapixels, and can also record both 4K and 2K video. The front camera is served by a 5MP sensor that records 720p HD video. Both phones on iOS 9 and support 802.11ac WiFi with Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and LTE Advanced. On the design front, both these phones see a new Rose Gold finish in addition to the space gray, silver and gold.
These phones will be launched in 12 countries in the first wave, starting 25 September. India is unfortunately excluded from this initial list, so fans will need to rally those foreign contacts.
Availability: Starting 16 September 2015
iPhone 6S: 16GB ($649), 64GB ($749), 128 GB ($849)
iPhone 6S Plus: 16GB ($749), 64GB ($849), 128 GB ($949)
Note: On two-year contract, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus starts at $199 and $299 respectively.
What’s new: The biggest news here is Siri, which is now baked right into the Apple TV experience. The remote can now control the show using voice, touch as well as motion–speak into it and Apple TV now recognizes contextual instructions: “Show me the latest action movies”, “Skip forward 15 seconds” will lend an added layer of convenience to the whole couch potato experience. Apple TV is now based on a new OS called tvOS, which is built upon iOS but crafted for living room consumption. Running at the device’s core is the 64-bit A8 chip, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wifi and IR receiver.
The updated Apple TV also has multiplayer gaming, where users can gesture with the remote to control on-screen action, a la Wii.
Availability: To be announced
Price: 32GB ($149) and 64GB ($199)
Also a few blink-and-you-miss-them updates include a new $399 iPad Mini 4, which is basically an iPad Air 2 in a smaller, lighter enclosure. And as with every launch, the line of preceding products see a price drop: the iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s is now priced at $199, $99 and free respectively (on a two-year contract.)
Thoughts and opinions on all this new hardware? Hit us up in the comments below or reach us on Twitter at #Indilens