Hey Siri, give us a hint!
Suffice it to say, Apple’s big event on Wednesday was jam-packed full of exciting announcements. iPhone 6s and 6s Plus? Yep. Apple TV refresh with new content? You know it. Plus, the iPad Pro ended up crashing the party after all—even though we didn’t expect to hear about that until October. And you can always count on Apple to have a few more tricks hidden up its sleeve.
Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the event on Wednesday morning and wasted no time in getting down to business. He immediately began talking about the success of the Apple Watch and where the platform was going with watchOS 2, which drops on September 16.
Health apps for the Apple Watch
One of watchOS 2’s landmark features is its improved health data capabilities. Health care app developer AirStrip has been working on an app for the Apple Watch that allows doctors and patients to communicate with each other remotely. Here, AirStrip co-founder Cameron Powell demos how a pregnant woman could share real-time data from the watch with her doctor, including her heart rate, the baby’s heart rate, and contractions.
Designer Apple Watch bands
If you want to fancy up your Apple Watch a little bit—but aren’t ready to go full-on fancy with the Apple Watch Edition—the Apple Watch Hermès collection may be up your alley. Apple announced a partnership with the accessory designer and introduced three new leather bands: The $1250 Double Tour, the $1100 Single Tour, and the $1500 Cuff. Each band in the Hermès collection ships with a stainless steel Apple Watch and its own custom Hermès-branded watch face. The collection will be available in October.
All gold everything
Ok, so the Hermès collection isn’t for you. Perhaps the new Apple Watch Sport offerings are more up your alley. Apple’s entry-level watch is now available in two new brushed-aluminum shades: Gold and Rose Gold. They are priced the same as their silver and black aluminum counterparts, at $349 for the 38mm version and $399 for the 42mm version. Best of all, they are available now.
Apple also released a bunch of new Sport bands for the Apple Watch, bringing the total number of color options up to 16. They each retail for $49.
Bigger than the iPad, you say?
Next up? The iPad. Tim Cook returned to the stage and dished about how impressed he has been by how people use their iPads. “Today, we have the biggest news in iPad since the iPad.” Mic drop...
Meet the iPad Pro
...Tt’s the iPad Pro! And it is huge, clocking in at 12.9 inches. The iPad Pro fills up its large screen with 5.6 million pixels in a 2732x2048 resolution display (versus the 2048x1536 resolution of the iPad Air 2), making it the highest resolution Retina display Apple has ever produced—even besting the resolution of the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
A new on-screen keyboard
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of world wide marketing, takes the stage to tell us more. Here, he shows off the iPad Pro’s full-sized software keyboard.
iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Pro
The iPad Pro really is a great deal larger than its counterparts. Here, we have the 9.7-inch iPad Air (left) compared to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (right). Fun fact: Half the width of the iPad Pro is exactly the height of the iPad Air 2—a perfect ratio for running apps side-by-side, which is one of iOS 9’s neat new features.
Also like the iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro has a Multi-Touch display, 8-megapixel iSight camera, 1080 HD video recording capabilities, 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology with MIMO, Touch ID, LTE, and Apple SIM.
Powerful new processor
The iPad Pro boasts Apple’s new A9X chip, which has twice the memory and is 1.8x faster than the A8X chip in the iPad Air 2. Apple calls this “desktop-class performance,” so you’ll be able to do things on the iPad Pro that you previously reserved for your Mac.
Additionally, Apple has updated the storage controller so you can quickly open large files, like 4K video, hi-res photos from your DSLR, or that seemingly endless PowerPoint presentation your boss wants you to edit.
Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro
Apple introduced two special accessories for the iPad Pro, starting with the $169 Smart Keyboard. It’s like an Apple Smart Cover, but it has a keyboard attached, and can also be used to prop up your iPad Pro in different angles. (And, yes, it does look a lot like the Microsoft Surface.) It ships in November.
Apple's first stylus, the Pencil
Apple also debuted the $99 Pencil, its first stylus. Apple Pencil has several sensors on both its case and the tip that can detect the position, pressure, angle, and orientation of your strokes. Draw gently on the screen to create light strokes, or press down to draw thicker lines. You charge it via a Lightning port hidden under where the eraser would be, and it can last up to 12 hours on a single charge.
A demo with Adobe
Eric Snowden from Adobe took the stage to show off how the Pencil works with the iPad Pro. Here, we see iOS 9's side-by-side view on the iPad Pro, while also getting a look at how the Pencil's pressure sensitivity works. Draw gently on the screen to create light strokes, or press down to draw thicker lines. Two sensors on the tip work with Multi-Touch display to detect whenever you're tilting the Pencil to create a shading effect.
Ships in November
The iPad Pro is available in three colors—Silver, Gold, and Space Grey—and ships in November. It starts at $799 for the 32GB model with Wi-Fi, goes up to $949 for the 128GB model with Wi-Fi, and costs $1079 for the 128GB model with Wi-Fi and cellular capabilities. Schiller also very, very quietly introduced the iPad mini 4, which joins the ranks of Apple’s full iPad linueup.
Moving on to the Apple TV. Here, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, shows off the Apple TV, which is slightly taller than its predecessor, and its new Siri Remote. The remote includes a touchpad, Siri integration (of course), volume control, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope.
“Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative,” Cook said, when kicking off the Apple TV portion of the event. “We believe the future of television is apps.” Here, Jen Folse, Apple’s senior design producer, shows off the Apple TV’s new app-based operating system: tvOS. Video-streaming services are front and center, and Apple has commitments from big names in television program creation and movie licensing, like ABC, Disney, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and Showtime.
Siri’s capabilities on the Apple TV are pretty impressive. You can use Siri to open apps by voice, or ask for specific movies, TV shows, or actors. The secret sauce with Siri is its ability to interpret natural-language requests, even highly specific ones such as “Show that Modern Family episode with Edward Norton.” You can also ask for specific genres, and narrow down the search with requests like “just the latest.”
Games, games, and more games
tvOS even has its own App Store, where you can find additional third-party apps formatted for the Apple TV. However, you can’t have an App Store without games. Here, we have the Hipster Whale team playing a game of Crossy Road on the Apple TV using Siri Remotes. If you have more than one remote, you can even play in multiplayer mode. Siri Remote’s accelerometer and gyroscope will allow developers to create some pretty dynamic games for the Apple TV down the line. The Apple TV is also compatible with Handoff, so if you start playing a game on the iPhone on your commute, you can pick up where you left off on your TV.
MLB’s Apple TV app shows you live games, highlights, or a screen showing you the progress of every game going on. You can also get notifications of other games you care about, open them in splitscreen, swipe back and forth, and zoom in.
More Apple TV specs
While the basic shape of the new Apple TV hasn’t changed, it is about 10mm taller than its predecessor, presumably to make room for all the added computing power under the hood. Gone is the crusty old A5 processor, and in its place is a 64-bit A8 chip. Around the back, there’s HDMI and ethernet, but apparently no optical audio output.
Apple hasn’t given an exact release date for the new Apple TV, but says it’ll launch in late October. The base model will cost $149—more than twice the price of the current model—and will have 32GB of storage. A 64GB version will cost $199.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
Finally, we’re ready to talk about the iPhone. Meet the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, available in four colors: Gold, Silver, Space Grey, and Rose Gold, which is new to the lineup this year.
One of the biggest new features of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is 3D touch. It works just like Force Touch on the Apple Watch—you press harder, like you’re trying to push right through the screen, and that’s a different kind of touch than a regular swipe or tap. This will let you interact with apps (from Apple and third parties) in new ways. For example, you can 3D Touch icons on the home screen for shortcuts to certain features, as shown here.
Upgraded camera specs
Another impressive new feature is the iPhone’s camera. The iSight camera (the rear-facing one) now takes 12-megapixel images, a huge jump of the previous generation’s 8-megapixel camera. Apple also added a new sensor, image signal processor, and improved optical image stabilization for the highest-quality photos the iPhone has ever taken.
The 6s and 6s Plus support 4K video-recording in 3840x2160 resolution at 30 fps. Apple also added optical image stabilization to the 6s Plus camera for video, too.
The new iPhones take advantage of the overhauled camera system with a new feature called Live Photos. When you take a photo using the 6s or 6s Plus, the camera will capture 1.5 seconds just before and immediately after a snapshot is taken to make your photos more cinematic. With a press on the image, you can watch the scene come to life instead of just staring at a still image. You can even assign those Live Photos to be your iPhone wallpaper or your Apple Watch face.
The two phones will be available for pre-order on September 12 and will go on sale September 25. If you’re signing a new two-year contract with your carrier when you buy your 6s or 6s Plus, the prices are as follows for a 6s: $199 up-front for a 16GB, $299 for a 64GB, or $399 for a 128GB. Add an extra $100 for the 6s Plus: $299 up-front for 16GB, $399 for 64GB, or $499 for a 128GB. Alternatively, you can buy an unsubsidized iPhone 6s starting at $649 for the 16GB version and a 6s Plus from $749—add an extra $100 for each larger storage size. The iPhone 5s, 6, and 6 Plus will also still be sold.
Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program
For the first time, Apple is offering its own upgrade program. You can buy an unlocked iPhone 6s with AppleCare+ from an Apple Store and choose your own carrier. Monthly payments start at $32 in the U.S. for a 6s, and $37 for a 6s Plus, and you’ll have the option to upgrade to a new iPhone after a year.
Wrapping it up with One Republic
While Cook didn’t have “one more thing” for us this time around, he did have rock band One Republic take the stage to close the show.
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