Apple’s October 2014 Event – A Summary


Starting with perhaps their most cult-like intro video ever, Apple kicked the keynote off with an ode to iPhone 6. Tim has “a few more things [to show] before we close out the year” – rather sounds like this could be the last event of the year then.

After some sales and pre-order figures for iPhone 6 making it the “biggest iPhone release ever”, Tim WatchKit SDK rolling out in November, Apple Watch still scheduled for an early 2015 release.

Craig on stage to talk about iOS and OS X. Stats such as 48% of iOS users running iOS, and a reminder of how great both operating systems are, reminding us of all the features announced earlier in the year, including how useful Continuity is for consumers who completely buy into the Apple ecosystem. Craig then demonstrates Continuity including a phone call on an iMac through an iPhone, and it really does work very well. Yosemite and iWork updates available today, iOS 8.1 available on Monday, all for free.

iPad Air 2it’s thinner than a laser-sliced pencil!

  • 6.1mm thin, thinnest iPad ever, also the “world’s thinnest tablet”
  • Display components are laminated together to minimize internal reflection
  • A8X chips specifically for iPad Air 2 – 64-bit, 3bn transistor. Also sports the M8 motion co-processor.
  • 10 hour battery life
  • 8MP iSight camera with 1080p HD video – not bad compared to other tablets, but nothing revolutionary. Dual microphones either side of the least different angles.
  • TouchID sensor
  • WiFi $499 16GB/$599 64GB / $699 128GB
  • WiFi + Cellular $629 16GB / $729 64GB / $829 128GB
  • Shipping by end of next week

iPad mini 3

  • I swear this was announced in less than 30 seconds. Specs are lesser such as 5MP camera, but still comes with TouchID
  • WiFi $399 16GB/$499 64GB / $599 128GB
  • WiFi + Cellular $529 16GB / $629 64GB / $729 128GB
  • Shipping by end of next week

 

iMac with Retina display

  • 27″ 5120×2880 “5K display”
  • 5mm thin tapered edges
  • 3.5GHz quad core i5 as the base 27″ option
  • AMD graphics, which Phil didn’t make a fuss about, but that’s a pretty big change
  • Starts at $2,499, shipping from today

 

New Mac mini

  • 4th gen Intel processors
  • Starts from $499, shipping from today

 

Sorry there’s not much detail in the specifications list – All the presenters apart from Craig were speeding through their presentation points like there was no tomorrow. Personally, I think this was a much more bountiful keynote than the iPhone 6 one, as we’ve seen four product refreshes and several major software releases. Does look like the MacBook Pro with Retina display will be waiting a while before it’s refreshed though, and nobody exactly mentioned any updated Apple standalone display to match the new 27″ iMac resolution.

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2012, the year of the new Apple


So, the first complete year of Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm in the 2000s has drawn to a close, though who knows when his legacy of influence will end behind the scenes. It’s been quite a revolutionary year, though there haven’t been any brand new product lines.

The most notable and widest spread product update is certainly the iPhone, I say widest spread because it is unbelievably popular and even those who aren’t Mac users own them – it’s a fully featured Apple product that the masses are interested in and can afford. For example, I could spend a day without seeing a single Mac, but I’d be hard pressed to walk one block without seeing an iPhone. Anyway, this year’s iPhone update was certainly the biggest physical update we’ve ever seen – it now has a 4″ screen, and it’s ever steadily getting faster, but on the whole it’s the normal amount of new features Apple brings out yearly.

One feature to spread across Apple’s portable range has been the inevitably controversial lightning connector. Another first since 2007, Apple made a change to the connector port on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and iPod nano, said by Apple themselves to be “a bold move”. Smaller, reversible, and hopefully a lot less prone to connections issues with fraying cables, it threw the accessory industry up in arms as their 30-pin connector products were nearly made redundant. Apple released a 30-pin connector to lightning port adapter, but really, the height of the new iPhone and iPod touch combined with that adapter just won’t fit in those speaker systems with an enclosed iPhone space. It also seems there are more cases available for the iPhone 4/4S than for the iPhone 5, but I’m hoping that situation will improve over the coming months.

iTunes was updated with a massive visual overhaul, covered in slightly more detail here. My opinions on it are still mixed, as queuing music is fantastic but I do miss the control I had over the way I viewed my music collection.

In the Mac corner, we saw the majority of devices getting thinner and faster, with the new iMac and retina MacBook Pro. We’re still awaiting a retina MacBook Air, but is there really a need? The Mac Pro has been largely overlooked yet again, I can’t remember when I last saw it get an update in a keynote rather than a subtle enhancement. Year by year it does look as if Apple is trying to drop the Mac Pro, but as impressive as the iMac gets each year, you just can’t beat 12 cores and 64GB of RAM, which many media professionals use daily.

Elsewhere there was an update to the Apple TV introducing 1080p output for the same price of $99. Not to forget the iPad mini, a product anticipated almost since the day the original iPad was released. And then there’s the iPad… when Apple announced a fourth generation, I fit into the category of people who asked themselves “but didn’t they just release the third generation?”. Yes, in a move uncharacteristically like Apple, they updated a product within their usual 12 month rotation – perhaps compensating for the iPhone 4 not being updated for nearly a year and a half.

And finally, there’s iOS 6. Making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Apple released their first version of iOS without Google’s products being an out-of-the-box component because their deal expired. Google released a YouTube app on the App Store fairly promptly, but only recently updated it to support the iPhone 5’s screen size. I’m sure you won’t forget the Maps fiasco, with Apple’s maps being ridiculed and sneered at. Google left Apple users without an alternative until only earlier this month with Google Maps finally making it onto the App Store. I can’t imagine what took them so long to produce it, maybe they chose the path of letting Apple embarrass themselves rather than play the role of the instant hero. Nevertheless, I feel Jobs’ declaration of thermonuclear war on Apple will prevail posthumously.

Oh, one last thing in the Apple headlines – Scott Forstall was forced to leave Apple. With Steve out of the picture, Tim and Jony saw a chance to remove Forstall and his skeuomorphic design tendencies. While the appearance of iOS is getting stale, I personally don’t dislike Notes looking like a legal pad and folders having a cloth background, but clearly others want it gone. It would be interesting if 2013 brings a completely re-designed iOS.

In the ever-busy Apple ‘rumor mill’ we exit the year with a potentially Intel-powered Apple watch, interesting since the latest iPod nano did away with the form factor that made it wearable on the wrist, and the never-faltering suggestion of an actual Apple TV; a screen, not just a box.

When I started this back in 2010, I had no idea what the coming years would hold. This year I’ve only had 1,800 views, but considering there were only 11 posts excluding this one, that’s not too bad. I will try to get back into reporting every bit of Apple news there is in 2013 rather than just the key pieces, so please stick around for more to come and have a Happy New Year! I won’t be going any time soon, as despite the ever-present lack of a large and loyal reader-base, running this has at least contributed to my writing improving, something which will hopefully be beneficial in a career.

October Apple Event


Rather unusually, Apple not only hosted their traditional September music event, but also an October event. Anyway, onto the key points:

Statistics – the usual stuff, unbelievably high figures:

  • 125 million documents in iCloud
  • 300 billion iMessages sent
  • 35 billion app downloads
  • $6.5bn in payouts to 3rd party developers
  • 1.5m iBooks with 400m downloads

Now that the lonely statistics are out of the way, time for the new items:

new iBooks:

  • Now has Japanese, Chinese, and Korean
  • Continuous scrolling
  • Better sharing capability and better iCloud functionality
  • Night and sepia modes

new Retina 13″ MacBook Pro

  • Similar to the 15″ update a while back, this now has retina display
  • Ivy Bridge, lots of bits crammed inside to the thinner body
  • up to 768GB flash storage space
  • 7 hour battery life
  • Starts at $1699 for a 2.5GHz dual core i5, 8GB RAM and 128GB flash storage.
  • Oh yeah, no optical drive
  • ‘Power Nap’ – the skeuomorphics are clearly invading their names as well as design… it can update contacts, mac app store app updates, iCloud documents, mail, Time Machine backup etc. while in sleep

Apple are still continuing the non-Retina MacBook Pros, and there doesn’t seem to be an update to the Air

A new Mac Mini. Seems to me like it’s been a long time since Apple last updated it:

  • up to 16GB RAM
  • dual or quad core Ivy Bridge i5/i7
  • $599 for base edition, $999 for server edition

New iMac. This is turning out to be quite a lot of updates being gone through in a brief period of time…

  • It looks pretty insane. The design looks quite like the size of my monitor, really thin at the edges but rather large in the centre. Although of course this isn’t just a monitor, it’s also got a computer inside it, so it’s to be expected.
  • the edge is 80% thinner than before
  • the display is laminated to the glass, similar to the iPhone. Means less reflection and the picture looks better.
  • Nvidia Kepler graphics
  • quad core ivy Bridge i5/i7
  • up to 3TB of usual storage, 768GB maximum flash storage.
  • You could opt for Fusion Drive, which gets you an Imac with one storage drive combined of 1TB/3TB mechanical HDD and a 128GB flash drive. This means your most frequently used apps get automatically moved onto the flash storage (for speed).
  • Again, the optical drive has vanished.
  • Standard amount of RAM seems to be 8GB, which is pretty good. 21.5″ starts at $1299 with 2.7GHz quad core i5, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GT 640M, 1TB HDD. 27″ starts at $1799 for 2.9GHz quad core i5, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 660M, 1TB HDD.

iPad time. Probably the main thing everybody’s been anticipating. 100 million iPads sold in total, 91% of tablet web traffic is people using iPads. The usual spiel about the iPad being used in education. You’d get the impression that iPads are only used by schools, businesses, hospitals…

New version of iBooks Author (what people use to create textbooks for iBooks). Publishers can use their own fonts, update books OTA, directly insert mathematical expressions, insert multi-touch widgets for even greater functionality.

I do find it slightly odd that their latest generation is always their fstest selling with everything…

4th generation iPad (seems like only yesterday we got the 3rd generation):

  • Apple A6X chip
  • Lightning connector
  • expanded LTE and 2x faster WiFi
  • 16GB WiFi model starts at $499, 16GB WiFi+cellular starts at $629

7 inch iPad, the ‘iPad mini’. Really, it just looks like somebody stretched the new iPod touch horizontally and made it a bit bigger.

  • dual core A5 chip
  • FaceTime HD camera on the front
  • 5MP iSight camera on the rear
  • 10 hours battery life
  • WiFi and LTE
  • Lightning connector
  • ‘as light as a pad of paper’
  • 1024×768 resolution
  • runs all the same 270,000 iPad-specific apps
  • apparently were all going to love doing everything on the iPad mini
  • new Smart Cover
  • while I’m not a fan of the iPad mini, at least Apple managed to do a small tablet right unlike all the others. Really, the bezels on other tablets are ridiculously big and they’re all tacky plastic. Although unless you are gripping it round the edges as suggested and instead having your thumbs all over the front in the way you would on the regular iPad, you’ll be blocking part of the screen.

Current base iPad lineup prices are:

  • iPad mini: – $329
  • iPad 2 – $399
  • Retina iPad – $499

the 16GB Nexus 7 is $249, so an Apple product of the same form factor and storage for $329 isn’t too bad.

aaaaaand… that’s all. Strangely no update on iTunes 11 launch date, which is a shame.

New iMacs released


As silently as the new MacBook Pros, Apple has released the new line of iMacs. Again, I’m not sure why they would keep it quite so quiet, as it isn’t a minor update. up to 16GB RAM, the best i7 2.4GHz processor and up to 2GB of video RAM, this looks more like a MacPro than an iMac on paper. And of course it has the new Thunderbolt technology, making it two big lines of products that Apple now have Thunderbolt support with (given that the iMac is popular, hopefully this will mean even more compatible products). Oh, and you can have a 2TB HDD as well as a 256GB SSD!