Summary of Apple’s ‘Special October Event’, 2013


(Introductory paragraph written before the event, the rest was written as it unfolded. Look through for bold text for information of different products.)

In June, Apple spawned a lot of questions, most of which weren’t answered at last month’s event, such as specifics on the upcoming Mac Pro and Mac OS Mavericks – for example, a presumed launch of Mavericks either today or very soon, as it went gold a few weeks ago. It should also be noted that despite September being Apple’s traditional month for their music event, the various iPod models didn’t see an update – we haven’t seen a new iPod since May, which was a ‘budget’ version of the iPod touch. Not to mention the iPod classic, which hasn’t really been spoken of since 2009. Apple has a reputation for releasing products on yearly cycles, which has fallen slightly out of sync in recent years, but still stands – leaving expectations of new iPods, a new Apple TV, new MacBook Pros, the new Mac Pro, a new Mac Mini, Mac OS, and potentially an entirely new product.

Tim Cook walks on stage and starts with what we’ve all come to expect – updates of the news sort rather than the software/hardware sort.

Plenty of figures and opinions about the iPhone 5s and 5c sales and reception, and a video of their retail stores. Figures such as 200 million devices updated to iOS 7 in five days, 20 million users have listened to iTunes radio, developers have earned over $13 billion.

Now onto the updates we’re all waiting for:

Craig Federighi talking about Mavericks:

  • current 13″ MacBook Air will see up to an hour more battery life for web browsing with Mavericks installed (rather what I was expecting what with App Nap and other power saving features announced in June)
  • Reminders about all the other features we’re so eagerly anticipating such as iBooks, Maps, Notifications, Finder tags & tabs, and better multiple display functionality. Ironically, better display functionality could make covering this a lot easier.
  • The Mavericks update will be free to download, even if you’re upgrading from Snow Leopard. Hardware compatible-wise, you can get Mavericks if you have a 2007+ iMac or MacBook Pro, 2008+ MacBook Air, MacBook, or Mac Pro, and 2009+ for the Mac mini.
  • And as expected, available today. “Go out and get it” I’d love to, just as soon as the update appears.

Phil Schiller on to talk about the MacBook Pro:

  • The ‘MacBook Pro’ has been abandoned, Apple now only sell the Retina variant.
  • 13″ gets up to nine hours battery life. 15″ gets up to eight hours.
  • faster flash storage, more video RAM, 802.11ac WiFi, Thunderbolt.
  • All shipping from today.

Now on to the Mac Pro:

  • 4, 6, 8, or 12 core configurations available with the Intel Xeon e5.
  • up to 64GB of 1866MHz of RAM
  • up to 12GB of video RAM (with the dual AMD FirePro configuration)
  • Four USB 3 ports, six ThunderBolt 2 ports, and an HDMI port. With ThunderBolt you can have up to three 4K displays.
  • It really is amazingly small – I doubt it’s much bigger than the latest AirPort Time Capsule. It’ll blend in nicely on the top of a desk (where it’s really intended to be) and makes the same amount of noise as the Mac mini.
  • Ships in December, starting at $2,999.

Now onto iLife with Eddy Cue:

  • New versions of iMovie, iPhoto, and Garage Band for Mavericks and iOS.
  • 64 bit and iCloud compatible
  • you can now edit and order photo books with iLife on iPad
  • iMove Theater integrates with iCloud so you can see everything you’ve made in it on all devices, including Apple TV.
  • The iOS version of GarageBand now has a 16 track limit, up from 8, and 32 tracks on 64 bit devices. And, as you’d expect, everything is synced with iCloud.
  • GarageBand now has a Drummer feature – a virtual drummer that you can easiy modify to play along in a different way. Ships with one drummer, you can add 14 more and more instruments with a single in-app purchase.
  • All available today, and ships free with new Macs and iOS devices.

iWork:

  • 64 bit with redesigned UIs – including new icons.
  • It looks like Pages on Mac now allows you to view a document like in Word rather than some borderless monstrosity…. (Update: I just installed it, and you can easily zoom in and out, allowing the page to actually look like a page now) It also has a format panel on the right hand side – another welcome timesaving addition.
  • Numbers has interactive charts so you can watch a bar chart change, showing past figures to present.
  • Keynote has some new animations and transitions that look quite nice.
  • iWork documents can be instantly shared with iCloud to anyone you give the link to – they don’t need an iCloud account to view it. You can also collaboratively edit documents Google Drive style.
  • Available today, ships free on new Macs and iOS devices.

Tim takes the stage again, for the iPad. He starts off with looking back at initial press slating of the 1st generation iPad “I can’t see a need for the thing”, then revealing that the 170 millionth iPad was sold earlier this month. There are 475,000 apps specifically designed for iPad, and Apple claim that the iPad is used up to four times more than any other tablet, and ranks number one for customer satisfaction. Some source for these figures would be nice… Tim follows up the figures with a video that basically shows iPads everywhere – restaurants, fire trucks, operating rooms, ice rinks, DJs, business meetings, and a tent hung on the side of a mountain.

Anyway, what’s new:

A name… the new iPad isn’t the “new new iPad” or “iPad 5th generation”, it’s the iPad Air, replacing the 4th generation iPad in the way that the Retina MacBook Pro replaced the MacBook Pro.

  • 9.7″ retina display, 43% thinner bezel, 7.5mm thin, 1lb. In the advert it’s portrayed to be thinner than a pencil, so watch your back Kindle.
  • 64 bit A7 chip (same as the iPhone 5s)
  • 8x faster than the original iPad, with 72x faster graphics.
  • 5MP iSight camera with 1080p video and dual microphones.
  • up to 10 hours battery life
  • Available from November 1st, in silver/white and space gray/black starting at $499

iPad mini:

  • Now has retina display (2,048×1,536 – the same as iPad 3, 4, and Air)
  • 64 bit A7 chip, proving that it’s just a smaller form factor, not a budget device.
  • 10 hours battery life
  • Available “later in November” from $399

Tim closes with an advert for the iPad Air, and says goodbye.

A couple of closing thoughts:

So, the iPad 2 is the ‘cheaper past-gen option’ Apple offer, but only $100 less than the iPad Air. Given how much more advanced the iPad Air, even how much more advanced the 4th generation iPad is, I think Apple is really missing a trick charging so much for what is now so little – I think they should either drop the price for the iPad 2 a lot more to expand their consumer base, or offer a different past generation iPad as the cheaper alternative.

No new gadget, no iPod updates, and no Mac mini update – will there be another even this year? I doubt it, as that would be far too many events for one year. Perhaps we’ll see something new in January?

Advertisements