Today at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, iPhones and iPads got their annual refresh announcement. After cruising through some minor Apple Watch updates (new casings and bands), CEO Tim Cook got to the main courses.
Anticipated for years, if not exactly feverishly demanded, was a larger iPad: the iPad Pro. At 12.9 inches on the diagonal, the iPad Pro screen is actually larger than a fair number of ultraportable laptops. It has more pixels than many, too: about 5.6 million in its 2732 x 2048 resolution.
iPad Pro is just a hair heavier than the original 9.7-inch iPad from 2010: 1.57 pounds. It runs iOS9 on an A9X 64-bit processor. The 32GB model will cost $799 and ships in November.
The real paradigm shift for iPad Pro is not so much its size as its accessories. A Smart Keyboard case attaches to a magnetic connector on its long edge, much like Microsoft Surface’s Type Cover (but without a touchpad). Apple Pencil is a stylus that, in concert with the iPad Pro, can translate angle and pressure into thicker lines and shading effects.
Apple has taken some flak for taking so long to update Apple TV, a fact CEO Tim Cook slyly acknowledged when introducing its latest iteration. The new settop box uses more powerful hardware but also makes up for lost time with additional capabilities.
The most obvious new feature is Siri voice control. Users can ask for shows by name, actor, or genre, and filter results with further natural language instructions. Searches span multiple streaming services, like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, and Showtime. Users can scrub through content by voice and look up weather and news without stopping the video.
Apple TV also has beefed-up gaming cred now, with iOS games adapted to the living room screen. Additional players with iPhones can join the main player using the rechargeable remote. Users can download games and other apps from the built-in app store. In fact, that app store means that creators of iOS apps can now do Apple TV development.
But what about the latest iPhone? Yes, it’s an odd-numbered year, so the general design stays the same as the previous generation, but the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus include a few notable enhancements.
First is the iSight camera, which has been bumped from 8 megapixels to 12 megapixels. As photographers know, more megapixels don’t automatically make for better pictures; the camera sensor itself has been improved as well to minimize noise and pixel crosstalk. Like iPad Pro, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will run iOS 9.
The big change Apple is pushing is 3D Touch. Sensors in the screen make iPhone 6s sensitive to how hard a finger is pressing, allowing for more varied and subtle interactions with icons, photos, and messages.
Both iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus come in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage configurations. Pre-orders start September 12. Are you going to get one?
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