Well, Apple’s Wednesday keynote was far more jam-packed than I expected.
Apple gave us a look at four of its five major product lines: The Apple Watch, the iPad, Apple TV, and iPhone, with the Mac getting nary a mention on stage. I, for one, was certainly not expecting to hear anything about the iPad, having previously expected an October keynote to cover the Mac and iPad. It seems that a later event will no longer be necessary. Due to time constrains, we didn’t even get a refresher on iOS 9 and El Capitan, a first for Apple’s fall keynotes.
I also wasn’t expecting to see any updates to the Watch lines. There are two new models available, as well as a significant price reduction for another: the Sport now has a gold and rose gold option, while the space grey Stainless Steel model can now be purchased at $549 rather than exclusively with the matching stainless steel bracelet at over $1K. Had the space grey stainless steel been at the $549 price point when I was watch shopping, it’s very possible that I would have picked one up.
The iPad Pro is Apple admitting defeat to the Microsoft Surface model of tablet. Note that the iPad Pro is still running iOS rather than Mac OS X, which is a key difference. But the inclusion of a keyboard cover along with Apple’s stylus, the Apple Pencil, I think is a (much needed) attempt to rejuvenate the iPad line. The real kicker was inviting Microsoft on-stage to demo the Office suite on the iPad. The iPad Pro is going to be really great for a certain type of user—I just don’t know who that user is yet, and I don’t think Apple does either. More Pro software will help, but I think that the entry of this new device will entice developers to put more powerful apps on the device. This, in combination with the new tools offered by iOS 9 like side-by-side apps will do wonders for the now-extensive iPad line.
The new Apple TV looks great. Powered by Siri and with the availability of a third-party App Store, I think it will really start to take off in the next few months. My family may eventually get one, as my parents love their existing Apple TVs. The new remote also looks very good, and I think it will help Apple move in the direction of hosting original content and forming exclusive deals for Apple TV owners. Only one major company was missing from the standard Hulu and Netflix companies: Amazon Prime Instant Video. I don’t see what Amazon would have to lose for adding their services; access requires a semi-hefty annual subscription and they sell their own Fire TV devices at a loss. We’ll see if they eventually add their services to the Apple TV.
Of course, the real star of the show was the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The iPhones 6s are different in virtually every regard but their industrial design. Even the materials of the design are different; the aluminum is a much stronger 7000 series, and the front glass is stronger as well. A new color has been added to the lineup: rose gold, in a sheen that matches the newly-announced rose gold Apple Watch Sport. Other changes include camera overhauls. The iSight rear camera is now 12 MP and has much better sensors), and the selfie camera has received a huge boost from 1.2 MP to 5 MP. Video has been upped to 4K at 30 fps, which I’m really excited about. There’s also a new change to photos themselves, which Apple dubs “Live Photos”. Live Photos record the second right before and after every photo is taken, animating it in a sense. I don’t know if I’ll use or even like the feature too much, but it’s certainly a unique edition. I liken it to the moving pictures of the Harry Potter universe.
The true hotness of the line is the new 3D touch feature, which improves on the Force Touch employed by the Apple Watch and brings it to the iPhone line. 3D Touch give the phone the ability to sense varying levels of pressure and respond accordingly with haptic feedback. This allows for new interaction models in applications. The demos with software utilization look really good, and I am very excited to see how developers incorporate the new pressure sensitivity into their own apps. I think it will very much become more of a power-user feature, but that doesn’t make me less excited about it. It’s likely that a majority of iPhone users will discover 3D Touch features by accident, but once they do, I think they’ll really come to love them.
Unlike the WWDC keynote back in June, this keynote flowed extremely well. I really liked it, and there was little wasted time. I’ve already ordered a space grey 64 GB iPhone 6s, and I can’t wait for it to come in. I haven’t decided if I want to get a case, and even if I did, I’d have no idea what type of case to get for it. But given that I’ve been using an iPhone 5 for 3 years, I’m really excited to make the leap.