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.

Apple’s September 9th Event – a summary


I didn’t manage to watch the live stream for numerous reasons, so there won’t be my typical comments on the idiosyncrasies of the presenters.

There were countless leaks prior to the keynote, including iPhone shells and diagrams of the watch, so not much was an actual surprise. One thing I’d like to the tell journalists and media outlets is – don’t guess or try to coin the name of an upcoming Apple product, as you will be wrong. It happened with the Apple TV (guessed to be iTV), the iPad (guessed to be iSlate etc.), and now the Apple Watch (assumed to be called iWatch). Whether Apple runs with a different name just to toy with you, or you really just do have a spate of bad luck with guessing, simply don’t bother. If people had run with “the rumored Apple watch”, it would have been faultless. But no, mass media insists on claiming they have some scoop that nobody else does, so misinformation and rumors are spread. Rant over, now on to what was actually announced.

Not much. I’m not some spoiled Apple fanboy, particularly since I have no interest in iPhones because of the limitations of iOS, but Apple really didn’t announce much yesterday, particularly considering the hype they tried to create for the event. No iMac, Apple TV, or iPod refreshes, no Thunderbolt Display redesign to match the current iMac design, nothing. In fact, Apple even quietly killed the iPod Classic.

iPhone 6

Larger than the iPhone 5s, a 4.7″ display, has a landscape view similar to that of the iPad, is the thinnest iPhone to date, slightly longer battery life, burst mode with the front facing camera, A8 64-bit processor with M8 motion coprocessor, NFC, supports Apple Pay, continuous autofocus video, and the sports design we’ve all seen leaked for a couple of months now. Which may I just say has aspects rather reminiscent of a certain competing handset:

comparison

iPhone 6 Plus

Everything the iPhone 6 has, except a bigger screen (5.5″, with a ppi of 401 vs the iPhone 6’s 326ppi), is undeniably a phablet, slightly thicker than the iPhone 6, has a significantly longer battery life, and optical image stabilization.

Apple Watch

Undeniably the smartest smartwatch that’s been announced so far. However, it may be too smart. Features an incredibly cluttered UI, an overload of gimmicky features, and a variety of editions paired with a fairly smart interchangeable strap mechanism. Android smartwatches are more in the realm of a basic unobtrusive companion device, whereas the Apple Watch, despite requiring an iPhone (5c through to 6 Plus), offers the ability to do far far too much. So much that I don’t have the energy to list everything it’s capable of, so you can simply check the list yourself here – I predict that most people that buy Apple Watches will not use them to their full potential. Tim Cook said that development of the Apple Watch started after Steve Jobs passed away. It shows. The square iPod Nano was incredibly simplistic by contrast.

A week with Mac OS Yosemite


Available to developers since June 2nd, Yosemite is currently in beta, so there are bugs and glitches that won’t appear later this year when it’s released.

A premium OS for a premium range of computers. That’s not elitist, just look at the price tags, and after all, despite writing about Apple for years, I haven’t owned a Mac for very long, but, Mac OS is simply where I’m at my most productive. I still have a Windows desktop for doing heavy lifting and media serving, but the MacBook is where I spend all of my online time. Anyway, my point is that Yosemite feels like a ‘premium’ improvement on an already premium experience.

That said, I’m enjoying Yosemite. When I first saw the new dock leaked a few days before the WWDC keynote, my first thought was “Are they bringing back OS X Tiger?” But, perhaps in order to move forwards you have to look to the past first. While I’m a stickler for continuity and nostalgia, I don’t think the general dock design from Leopard to Mavericks had much of a future left in it, as it had been evolved as much as possible. In essence, a new dock design was due, and I’m happy with the way it went. The subtle translucency is very reminiscent of the iOS 7 and iOS 8 Control Center, and something I am a fan of as it makes the OS feel even more personal.

The fullscreen button on the left of title bars has gone, and instead been merged with the maximize button to the right. What this achieves is cleaner title bars, and may make the possibility of making apps go fullscreen more obvious to less savvy users (it happens). I don’t dislike it, and it means less cursor movement is required, so I suppose it’s a good change.

(This paragraph is a mess, but I can’t think how to rewrite it with improvements) Tabs in Chrome were crashing every second after loading content, so I have temporarily returned to Safari for web browsing on my MacBook. While this dents my tab continuity across my three key devices, it also means I’m experiencing the improvements to Safari. The bird’s eye view for tabs is a bit slow at the moment when transitioning, and feels like the Windows Phone 7 multitasking view, where upon selecting a tab, it zooms in to a screenshot of it, then visibly transitions into the live page. What would be nice is a trackpad gesture to enter the tab birds eye view. If that already exists, I’ve not noticed it, but could very much do with it. I tend to get carried away with tabs, often running into the eighties, where in Chrome that would be so many that i can’t actually distinguish between tabs. In Safari, thanks to the bird’s eye view and scrolling through the tab bar, I can easily get to the tab I’m looking for, and birds eye view makes mass closing of certain tabs a relative breeze. However, I reached a stage where I had so many tabs that in bird’s eye view they became a sliver of their former selves at the bottom of the list, and switching between any tabs became a very lengthy process with Safari becoming unresponsive. One pain that I’ve been reintroduced to through using Safari again is how the new tab text input is never ready instantly when I open a new tab, but rather responsive after a few seconds – which hits productivity. Pair that with the slowness that the shared links sidebar can bring, and some otherwise decent features become useless. However, I’ve had these responsiveness issues before Yosemite, so it isn’t a flaw in 10.10 specifically, just an ongoing lack of optimization.

As far as I can tell, the Calendar (which I run as a fullscreen window) keeps silently crashing or vanishing somewhere, but that’s not much of a pain. Mail has also become unreliable when fetching new emails, but that may just be the network. Dark mode isn’t present in the current beta, but I am eagerly anticipating it.  In its current state, Yosemite is a visual breath of fresh air for me, which alone would be a welcome upgrade. That there’s certain new functionality as well simply sweetens the deal, and I can’t wait to see what developers do in the way of widgets for the Notification Center.

WWDC 2014 Keynote Summary


The Keynote started with a video remind you how amazingly fantastic apps, specifically ones used on Apple platforms, are, with people thanking developers (specifically, those who develop for Apple platforms). After this, Tim Cook walked on stage, continuing to praise developers, and mentioned some facts and figures about WWDC, such as the youngest developer in the audience being thirteen. Segues into reminding the audience that today is not only about iOS, but Mac OS as well, and “the mother of all releases for developers” – which will get an entire section of the keynote devoted to it, which the public will undoubtedly care less about than the other two, but developers cheered.

The Mac OS announcements:

Mr Hair-to-rival-John-Slattery strolled on stage, to crack jokes… shapographic (is that a thing) video ensues, showing the new dock, toolbars, and windows

Translucent windows and dock

New icons of an iOS 7 flavor,  including a translucent trash can.

A dark mode for Mac OS. That’s it, I’m sold now on the design change.

New notification center with an improved Today view with widgets such as clocks, stocks, reminders, as well as 3rd party ones such as ESPN

Spotlight Search is now a big field in the middle of the display, with in-line previews for documents, and web search at the same time. Federighi continues to throw jokes left, right, and center, such as Jony Ive’s custom aluminium spoons with chamfered edges, at such a speed there’s no time for laughs. Maps, movies, and iTunes Store results all show in-line in Spotlight. I wonder if that includes

Calendar has a new Day View

iCloud Drive – access content from Mac OS, iOS, and Windows

Mail – New “Mail Drop” technology, that sends attachments via iCloud for large attachments up to 5GB in size. Markup to doodle over images.

Safari – favorites now hidden in the search bar. Easy subscription to RSS feeds, easier sharing between people, birds eye view of tabs. Visually, Safari now looks exactly like an elongated version of Safari on iOS 7 does. Also features Markup in sharing.

Announcing “Continuity”. That’s right, picking nouns from a dictionary counts as naming a product. AirDrop now works across iOS and Mac OS, devices in proximity can pick up where you left off with documents, emails, and websites. Instant Hotspot lets you automatically turn your phone into a hotspot from your Mac.

Texts and calls can now work through your Mac. Yes, that means exactly what it sounds like.

Craig continues to perform his comedy act, including brushing off a call from his mother, opting instead to call Dr. Dre. Yosemite available to developers today, and a Fall release for the public at the price of nothing. In a turn of events, Apple will be offering a Public Beta of Yosemite this Summer.

On to iOS 8:

Interactive notifications, much like on Mac OS. Also works on the lockscreen.

Double tap now not only shows recent apps now, but people as well.

Safari has the same new tab view

Mail is now a more efficient experience with gestures and a floating compose window

Spotlight does iTunes, Apps, and Movies, and the search bar in Safari does the same Wikipedia trick as on Mac OS

QuickType – locally stored predictive typing for iOS, which stores different language usage with different contacts

iMessage – Message threads can now be left or set to do not disturb. Other new features include tap to talk (and video), people locations, and view all images shared in a thread in one place.

A demonstration happens, with an on-stage selfie and a hair crisis from Craig. Looks like the fun never ends at Apple.

Enterprise enhancements are mentioned, but I’m afraid I don’t understand much about it.

On to Health then. Now, after so many years, you can consolidate all your health information in one single place. Provided you use iOS, naturally. Surely you didn’t expect Apple would actually solve a problem rather than adding to it.

Family Sharing – “The easy way to share what’s important”. Create a family unit with iOS devices and share things with them. That’s right, you have to convert your entire family to iOS. You are free to use what your family dictates. On a positive note though, you can now access the iTunes purchases of up to six family members… providing you all share the same credit card. Enjoy cleaning that mess up.

Photos – search has been improved for albums, locations, times etc. New simplified photo effect editing has been added. Photos for Mac OS will be updated next year to work in similar ways, and work online as well.

App Store – app previews (videos) and app bundles with discounted pricing.

Notification Center gets interactive widgets

3rd party keyboards can now be used in iOS

 

I don’t think the word “Google” was mentioned a single time during this… Bing seemed to be getting a lot of shout-outs though. Your other bingo word to look out for was “Kit”.