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.

WWDC 2013 – keynote summary


(skim through and look for the bold/underlined headings for the products you’re interested in knowing about)

So, it opened with a slightly pretentious feeling video, although Apple can usually get away with that. Most of the time…

Anyway, Tim’s first large point is the typical sales update. “We made a video”. No surprise there. An Apple Store in Berlin with meander patterns and Ionic columns on the outside – a classical far cry from the glass buildings seen in other cities, although the interior is the usual bare stylishness. “Only Apple could do this”. Could or would? They’re certainly the only tech company who bother to put this much effort into physical outlets.

“More accounts with credit cards than any other store on the internet that we’re aware of.” That’s not the first time he’s said “that we’re aware of” today, and I’m sure Steve Jobs never threw doubts into people’s minds like that.

Quickly into a third party demo with Anki which looked cool although ran into a difficulty. I’d love to buy something like this, controlling real miniature vehicles with an iPhone – like Death Rally but in real life. This really doesn’t feel like a traditional Apple keynote.

Tim now moves on to Mac, looking at figures for MacBooks. Craig Federighi comes on stage making jokes about running out of cat names and then a joke about the next iteration of Mac OS being called OS X Sea Lion. The name turns out to be OS X Mavericks, named after this place. It’ll be released to consumers in Autumn, but now on to the features:

  • Finder tabs – perfect, much easier than using multiple windows
  • Tagging – adding tags to documents that can appear in the finder sidebar
  • Multiple Displays – it works the way multiple displays should do, works really well. You can even turn your Apple TV into a third monitor and still use your computer as normal.
  • Lots of OS performance changes to improve battery life, faster performance under load, and quicker wake from standby. App Nap balances how system resources are shared so that your battery doesn’t pay for what you aren’t currently using.
  • Improved notifications, even enabling push notifications from iOS to come through. Shows on lockscreen. On a related note,
  • Apps update in the background.

Now Safari, they’re making it “even better”. Well, that’s better than making it worse. Anyway:

  • continuously scroll through articles saved to your Reading List
  • browse shared links seamlessly from Twitter
  • Safari wins on SunSpider and JSBench comparisons
  • iCloud Keychain not only remembers your website logins across devices, but also your WiFi passwords. Also saves your credit card information, excluding the security code.

The Calendar:

  • Aware of location, travel time, weather. Flatter visuals and bland colours – he made a joke about skeuomorphics going
  • Continuous scrolling
  • Tells you travel information right in the calendar – notifies you when you need to leave to get to your appointment on time

Maps:

  • Flyover and other iOS style features
  • You can send directions from desktop maps instantly to your iPhone

iBooks:

  • On the Mac at long last – does everything the iOS iBooks does, including the night mode.
  • Textbooks work fantastically – pity hardly any educational outfits adopted it.

Phil Schiller now takes the stage to talk about the MacBook Air, with an entire new line, shipping from today:

  • New 4th generation Intel Haswell processors – 40% faster graphics and much better battery life. For example, 11 inch going from previous 5 hours battery to up to 9. 13 inch from 7 hours to 12 hours – “all day battery life”
  • 802.11ac WiFi (yes, that’s better than Wireless N) – on a related note, there’s a new AirPort Extreme Base Station that has a HDD inside so it can also act as a Time Capsule (hence the incredibly tall form-factor)
  • More storage for the same price as the last generation.

At long last, after only a slight silent improvement last year, the Mac Pro is finally getting a big update. This time round it even comes with a new design (it’s had the same basic design of the 2003 PowerMac G5). Unfortunately,It looks like a shiny black trash can. Same 12-core maximum, but newer Xeons. 1866MHz DDR3 RAM, Thunderbolt 2, PCIe Flash storage, dual AMD FirePro GPUs as default that can output to up to three 4K (that’s a lot better than 1080p HD) displays. The ports light up, it is tiny compared to the original Mac Pro, and assembled in the USA. Awkward but impressive form. This was only a sneak peek though – released later this year.

On to iCloud services:

  • Some facts and figures
  • iWork for iCloud – looks like it works in a web browser. Nothing new in comparison to Microsoft, but it works just as well.

Time for iOS 7 – it’ll run on iPhone 4+, iPad 2nd gen, iPad mini, 5th gen iPod touch, but some features run on only the current lineup. Consumer release in Autumn.

  • Figures such as 600 million iOS devices sold and 82 percent tablet market share for the iPad. Apple also claim to have the most very satisfied users – Windows Phone comes in second place.
  • “The biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone” – much like the iPhone 5 was the biggest change to iPhone since the original iPhone. “Amazing new features” and a “stunning new user interface”.
  • It looks extremely psychedelic and INCREDIBLY different. I’m hoping that it’s not quite as extreme as it looks due to pressure for Apple to change it as much as possible.
  • Pastel colours, WebOS style multi-tasking, wallpaper moves around, new icons, slide to the side to unlock lockscreen, round lockscreen numbers, multiple pages in folders, new notification center (also accessible on lock screen), slide up to get instant access to some settings, playback controls, and flashlight etc. shortcuts…. there’s really too much for me to list. Imagine everything you see on your iOS device at the moment. Now it’s ALL different. Well, App icons are in the same grid. But everything else is new.
  • I’ll just list some adjectives as the changes – flat. pastel Google-esque colours. transparency. fluid. more of a fullscreen sense. Blackberry OS 10 style sliding in mail, slower looking transitions, ghostly keyboard.
  • Craig says it’s like getting a new phone – I agree, as what you see is a major part of a phone’s user experience. I think this is going to take a lot of getting used to for people.

Here’s a few key iOS features in a formal style of listing:

  • Apps update intelligently and automatically
  • Card style interface for Safari tabs like on Chrome mobile but more of a rolodex swirl – also, the 8 tab limit is gone.
  • All apps can multitask and run typically used apps ready to go before you tap on them
  • Control Center works from within any app (for example, you can turn the flashlight on instantly)
  • live filters in the redesigned Camera app
  • Images in Photos are organized into ‘moments’
  • Siri has more human-like voice, can control parts of the system (such as change the brightness), and fills the whole screen in a cleaner interface.
  • Deals with 16 vehicle manufacturers such as Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Volvo, and Jaguar  to have iOS-linked displays in the car
  • App Store can show apps popular near you.
  • Music app has artist images, album grid instead of the now non-existent coverflow
  • iTunes Radio (starting in the US only) – free with ads, no ads if you have an iTunes Match account (at last, now I get more than consistent iTunes crashes for my £21.99 a year). Doesn’t seem as good as the Xbox Music Pass to be honest, but the ecosystem is wider-spread
  • Dismissing a notification on iOS dismisses it across all your devices

And that’s ‘it’ – new MacBook Air available now, OS X and iOS available in Autumn, Mac Pro available “later this year”.

UPDATE – if you want to see how iOS 7 looks like, you can visit Apple’s gallery here.

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!

After: The ‘Back To The Mac’ event


n.b. It has taken a while for me to write this as I have been trying to recover from what they released.

And not in a good way. Well, before the bulk of my views, what did Apple announce?

  • A new MacBook Air
  • iLife ’11
  • Mac OS 10.7

The MacBook Air.

Available in 11″ and 13″ screen sizes and less than 2cm thin, it is definitely impressive. A screen that’s 11.6″? Suspicious, that’s just over an inch off a good netbook, but I thought Apple didn’t like netbooks?!? For example, the Alienware M11X is considered a gaming netbook, so surely this qualifies as a netbook too? Anyway, it is scarily thin and basically just awesome. It even has a proper keyboard, not a cramped mess! And of course, it is insanely fast for something of this size. If you can to your desktop from off in about 12 seconds or watch 1080p videos seamlessly, I consider that to be pretty powerful.

iLife ’11

iLife is a crucial ‘add on’ to OS X. Basically necessary ‘forgotten’ features that you have to pay for (unless you buy a new Mac or can cope with the old versions (not likely)). I have never been much of a fan of iLife, but the new features in ’11 caught my eye. iPhoto has some pretty nice new/updated features. Not much, but after all, it is a glorified photo viewer with some editing tools and nice social features. For example, the photo album feature has been improved and an email photos feature has been added. On to GarageBand.  I used to use GarageBand to make completely computerised music. Apple seems to be moving further and further away from that, which is a good thing for customers. To be honest, it seems rather like Guitar Hero with the ‘How Did I Play’ feature, but it is a nice touch, a touch that my (piano, not computer) keyboard has had for several years. Tools that improve your rhythm, new amps and new lessons are also added. Anyway, if you have a lot more money lying around, you could buy Logic StudioAnd finally, saving the biggest and best till last, iMovie! Also, not really a big fan of, but there were lots of people who were anticipating nothing but this from the event. Apple delivers several big necessary and unnecessary (but helpful) new features. For example, movie trailers. Seems unnecessary for people compiling clips of their holiday for their relatives to see, but could be handy for budding filmmakers. Also added, and needed by many, is audio editing! Sounds awfully like Windows Movie Maker from 2000/2001… anyway, also added is special effects such as instant replays, slow motion and ‘flash and hold’. News/sports coverage makes your special moments rather creepy, and has a rather long-winded setting up process. Finally, you can upload/export videos to even more places. Overall, iLife ’11 is a pretty big update with some unmissable features.

Mac OS 7 – ‘Lion’

Well, the king of the jungle is finally here and probably won’t be lasting long. If you hear the words ‘app store’ and ‘desktop (/MacBook)’ in the same sentence, you can tell it won’t be good. Yes, Apple is adding an App Store to OS 10.7. As if Apple taking 30% (pre-tax) of your hard earned money on the iDevice App Store, they now want to take some of your your hard earned money when you develop for Mac. (I am guessing that they will take the same cut, make your own judgement). Of course, you can still make Mac software for discs and downloads (so far (also, a guess)). If they had stopped there, I would have thought they still have a chance this could sell. But no, they kept on adding.

The name of the event: ‘Back To The Mac’:

Not quite the meaning of back I or probably anybody else had in mind, it wasn’t ‘returning to the Mac, we haven’t forgotten it despite nearly our last 2 years worth of events having very little to do with the Mac and us no longer being ‘Apple Computer Inc.’ ‘  but more of a ‘back’ as in ‘we are taking these features from iOS and taking them back to Mac OS’

(At time of writing, I have not yet seen the keynote, as many unhappy iDevice owners know, the podcast fails and is ‘unable to play’. I shall watch it as soon as I can, and that may broaden my views on iLife ’11, but my views will probably stay the same for the MacBook Air and Mac OS 10.7)

TimeCapsule Recalls


Well, only ones bought in 2008 are affected, and only a certain select few. Realistically, most Apple fans always upgrade their ‘kit’ to the latest version, so not many people should be affected. ‘Ooh, how naive’ It’s Apple, face it, if it doesn’t work, you buy a new one as you have so much money and asking for a replacement would be too much hassle. One funny website about this matter is http://www.timecapsuledead.org

iTunes


Where to start… iTunes is an online ‘shop’ where you can buy: music, films, tv shows and seasons, music videos, audiobooks and programs (‘Apps’). Their catalogue is amazing, and although it seems like things cost a lot, the new things don’t. On many occasions have I found music and films at much cheaper prices to download from iTunes than getting the CD or DVD in a shop. Unfortunately, this is very, very rarely the case for television shows, and some television shows on iTunes cost loads eg. Any season of Friends: £10 each, Season … of Chuck: £. Unfortunately, with old films on iTunes, if you look at the customer reviews for them, most people will be rating the film one star because of the price (being way too high). That is not the films fault, and it isn’t entirely Apple’s fault. As was explained to me, the old films price is high, as they won’t sell as many ‘copies’, unlike the newer films, so to make sure that they get some return, the price is higher. I’m not sure who decides the price though (Apple or the film company?). The downside is that the downloads will take a while, eg for a film on a poor BT connection, it took FIVE hours! On a quick connection, it took 45 minutes at the most! With a DVD, all you have to do is go to the shop, buy it then watch it, but there is a downside to DVD viewing as well. As far as I know, it is illegal to rip DVDs, and only some new, awful films have these dodgy sounding ‘Digital Copies’, so you buy the DVD and a ‘Digital Copy’, or a DVD, a Blu-Ray disc and a ‘Digital Copy’. I don’t think I have seen any film in shops that has these that is worth watching, so I haven’t tried it to see how it works. The other problem with downloading is space. My computer (an ancient ‘Tiny’ (most ironic name I’ve ever heard for a computer, the original ‘Tiny’ monitor that came with it was about 30cm deep)) has about 500mb of RAM and about a 60gb hard drive (with an 8gb ‘D’ drive, when I first got it, it had windows XP on it twice?!?) My hard drive is now full. I knew that a lot of it was taken up with iTunes items, but I checked to see how much was iTunes stuff; 40GB!!!!! 2/3 of my hard drive was taken up by a few television episodes, less than 10 movies and lots of music (only 3GB worth though). I am now trying to get an external hard drive, but that won’t solve the problem with the RAM. In the days when this computer was new, 500MB was huge! Nowadays, you couldn’t even run Vista with that (we have an acer laptop with vista and 1GB of RAM, and that’s slower than the tiny! On the tiny, iTunes always freezes. When I open iTunes and click on ‘Applications’ for example, it will freeze. When I sync my iPod, it freezes, when I’m making a purchase, it freezes. When I open another program, it freezes and even when I leave the iTunes window open and come back 15 minutes later, it will have frozen (even without a screensaver). I have tried everything that I can do, which is as far as ‘killing’ a few unneeded processes, but that’s all. I seriously need a new computer, and I have currently got my eye on the Samsung R720 laptop, as it’s specifications are great, and it’s got a big screen, but at £599, it’s a ‘little’ out of my budget (£50, which I’m saving for an even worse thatn the tiny, an HP Pavillion ZV5000 (it cost loads back in the day, but it is nowadays a cheap ugly lump of plastic)) When I went into the stormfront shop and had a go on the new huge screen iMac, I clicked ‘iTunes’ and it opened instantly. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

Apple’s Progress


Yes, I admit the Apple I looked awful. A wooden box with ‘Apple Computers’ crudely cut into the backboard? And where did the screen go? In all the pictures I have seen of it, I don’t see where the screen would go apart from some metal fixings on the left, and if you fitted a screen in there, you would cover up the ‘App… Com…’ part of the backboard. They moved quickly onto a plastic box with a screen built in, and you didn’t have to build this one yourself! When Steve Jobs was ‘let go’ from Apple, they went downhill, into beige tower computers. Once Steve had sold off pixar, Apple begged for him to return, and then we see colour return to the world and lovely looking pieces of art. The original iMacs should be in an art gallery, wait, all of them should be, all four different looks. If Microsoft built a computer (they did, they’re called the xbox and xbox 360) you would see a green cube or a slightly curved white box. With apple, you see art. The original iMac may have been big, but it was revolutionary. The first one was released in 1998 with a 4GB hard drive and 384MB of RAM. After that wave of iMacs, in 2002, they brought out the incredible flat panel iMac with the metal neck. The majority of apple products from the late 90s and ‘noughties’ (seriously, who came up with that!?) all look(ed) very nice. Apple products may not be as compatible, but you pay for the name design and power.