Thursday, September 17, 2015

Apple "Hey, Siri" Special Event Wrap Up

Apple has unleashed new Apple Watches, iPads, an all new Apple TV and, yes, even the new iPhones 6s and iPhone 6s Plus on the world.

If you haven't had time to sit through the two and a half hour presentation, here's everything you need to know about Apple's newest gear.

Welcome and Opening Remarks from Tim Cook

Tim started off by saying that we have "monster updates across multiple product lines" and he wasn't kidding.  As with the last keynote, the usual "How are we doing?" state-of-the-state slides were cut.


Apple Watch


After stating that Apple Watch customer satisfaction was at 97%, Tim turned over the Apple Watch section to Jeff Williams, Apple's SVP Operations.  I don't recall seeing Jeff up on stage so I'm glad they are giving him time in the spotlight.

  • Time Transit and 3rd-part complications in watchOS 2.0
  • Transit information is coming to Apple Maps to help you find public transit
  • 10,000 watchOS apps in the App Store today
  • New gold and rose gold color options for Apple Watch Sport (available now)
  • New Apple Watch stainless with new band options
  • 16 fluoroelastomer Sport bands, including a new (Product) RED band 
  • Hermes bands and new signature watch faces, available at select stores

I like the new watch bands, but was not blown away with the new colors.  I'll likely buy one ore two more fluoroelastomer bands before I upgrade my Sport edition watch in the future.

The AirStrip third-party demo seems like an amazing convergence of medical and digital technology. Apple is really showcasing their work with partners in the health and fitness fields.


watchOS 2.0, a free upgrade, arrives Wednesday, September 16.


iPad Pro


Turns out the rumors about a larger iPad were true and that device is called the iPad Pro.  The iPad Pro is clearly targeted at business professionals and not the typical iPad owner.  According to Tim Cook, "iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of personal computing."  "We're partnering with the world's leading enterprise companies, IBM and Cisco, to redefine and transform the way people work in the enterprise."

To introduce the new iPad Pro, Apple played a video with the solar system and the sun. Let's just
get to it already.  I don't want to see a simulated product showing a simulated solar system.  My first impression of the iPad Pro (during the video): "It's nice.  I don't need it."

Then then video ended and Tim Cook came out holding the deice and things turned around quickly for me.  My second impression of the iPad Pro (while Cook was holding it): "I bet it's close in size to a standard format US magazine - I read a lot of content on my iPad Air today.  EW, Time and others, please for the love of God...please...please use retina assets."


  • 12.9" diagonal screen more than enough for holding a "printed" magazine page
  • 2732 x 2048 (horizontal), 2x the resolution as the iPad Air/Air 2 standing tall
  • 5.6M pixels being pushed around the display
  • More pixels than a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • Variable refresh rate display (dynamic power savings)
  • iPad Pro is powered by the third generation 64-bit A9X chip
  • 1.8x faster than the iPad Air 2 A8X chip, 2x flash storage performance
  • 2.0x fater GPU performance (great for games and pro media apps)
  • Still maintains the iPad's 10-hour battery life target
  • 4x speaker audio system (one speaker at each corner of the device)
  • iPad Pro is 6.9mm thick compared to iPad Air 2 6.1mm
  • Smart Keyboard case with woven fabric key caps (no screen scratching)
  • Smart Connector carries power and data with a magnetic connection
  • Smart Connector does not rely on Bluetooth or peripheral batteries
  • iPad Pro will be available is white/sliver, white/gold, black/space grey
  • 32GB Wi-Fi $799, 128GB Wi-Fi $949, and 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular $1,079
  • iPad Pro begins shipping this November

I also really like the full size soft keyboard, especially with iOS 9 upper and lower case key caps.

So, how do you get a thinner MacBook or MacBook Air? Ditch the entire bottom half of the notebook.  That's the iPad Pro.  I think "Road Warriors" (is that still a 'thing'?) should really
like this for it's extreme portability.  There was no discussion about an Apple Smart Cover or Smart Case.  I would think that with a full size soft keyboard, you could get by without buying a keyboard accessory to save money.


Can the iPad Pro be a compelling alternative to MacBook, MacBook Air?  Assuming you purchase the mid-tier iPad Pro, a Smart Keyboard and a Pencil, your out the door cost is $1,200 for the 128GB Wi-Fi iPad Pro.



Apple Pencil


Apple Pencil is the stylus that God did't give you and is a much more refined writing experience over today's stylus.  I'm guessing that the people at 53, who make that cool Paper app, are really pissed about the new stylus and it's name.
  • When using Pencil, iPad Pro digitizer is scanning 2x as fast to collect more data
  • Can use both touch and Pencil input at the same time (ruler and pencil example
  • Tracks position, force and tilt of Pencil as you use it
  • Promises low latency to better replicate the feel of writing/drawing on paper.  This is a big one for me since I take notes on iPad Air with Jot stylus
  • Pencil charges off of iPad Pro Lighting port (first Holy $#!+ moment)
  • Pencil working with built in apps looks like Microsoft Surface stylus done right
  • Into video showed hand firmly resting on the display and not interfering with Pencil input.
Improving the experience of note taking on the iPad looks to be greatly enhanced with the new iPad Pro only Pencil stylus.  Overall, it looks like a better experience of using my iPad Air and Bluetooth Jot stylus.

Professional Productivity on iPad Pro

Playing word association with the term "Professional Productivity" does not conjure up images of "Microsoft".  Adobe is the first word that comes to mind.


Admit it, Microsoft Office on iPad Pro with Pencil and Split Screen is incredibly cool!

Adobe's up next with their Com page layout software and Photoshop Fix apps.  Photoshop Fix offers real-time dynamic photo re-touching on an iPad.  This took forever on my 1992 Macintosh IIci desktop.  Now I can do that work from a tablet in real-time.


I was glad to see Irene Walsh from 3D4Medical on stage to show off her company's anatomy app.  That demo looked pretty impressive.


iPad mini 4


  • iPad Air 2 hardware reconfigured into the mini's format
  • Like iPad Air and iPad mini 3 both have A7
  • iPad mini 4 starts at $399

The iPad mini 4 only received a passing mention during the event.  Aside from putting the iPad Air 2 guts into the iPad mini 3 case, there't not much new there.

I wonder what this means for iPad Air 9.7-inch line.  Seems like many people are opting for the iPad mini.  iPad Pro is clearly aimed at professionals. Is this a way to boost margins on iPad line? Is Apple just keeping the iPad Air around because people still buy it?  This feels a lot like the MacBook (One) being out, yet Apple still continues to sell the MacBook Air.


Apple TV, Forth Generation, and tvOS


Tim Cook started off the Apple TV potion of the keynote by stating that "The future of TV is apps," and with the new Apple TV, there will be plenty of apps to go around.  The new Apple TV, as Apple likes to say, will be instantly familiar, but new.   The new Apple TV looks very similar to the second and third generation Apple TVs we have now.  With the new Apple TV, the box will be slightly taller than before.


The software that drives Apple TV has been updated too.  tvOS, a variation on iOS - just like watchOS is also a variant of iOS - has gotten a new flat, clean ascetic.  With the integration of Siri, you are now able to use the new Siri remote for Apple TV to speak commands such has "So me movies with Robert Downey, jr", "What was the score from last night's Yankees game", or "What is the weather forecast for later today?".  That's a pretty cool feature...if it works reliably.

With the Siri Remote, better remote control navigation, Bluetooth communication, apps, a redesigned UI and Universal Search the new Apple TV is a worth while upgrade for existing Apple TV owners and people looking to add "smart" features to their TV.  My initial reaction to Apple TV was that Apple has caught up to where everyone else is.  But the story does quite end there. If you squint when you look at Apple TV, you can see where Apple plans to go in the future, so I'm holding out hope that Apple TV and tvOS will have a more compelling reason to buy one over it's competitors in the future.


To introduce the new Apple TV, Tim brought out Jen Folse from the Apple TV engineering team to demonstrate some of the new features.



The new Apple TV, forth generation features:

  • Redesigned hardware, including the new Siri Remote
  • Redesigned UI/UX: GUI, glass touch interface on remote, Siri voice controls
  • Siri Universal Search for content across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime
  • HD video screen savers that look so amazing that I want to have them running all the time
  • Apple TV now includes Apps, App Store, and full integration with Apple Music and Beats 1
  • A8, Bluetooth 4, 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO
  • 10mm taller than Apple TV 3rd gen
  • Siri Remote charges via Lightning Cable and is good for 3 mo on a single charge
  • TV volume control, on off TV/receiver control
  • Available in two models: 32GB $149, 64GB $199
  • Apple TV 3 lives on at the existing $69 price point
  • Apple TV 4 ships in late October




tvOS


 Apple TV's operating system received an official name this year, and it is "tvOS".
  • New software that drives Apple TV and is based on iOS
  • Think of tvOS in the same way that watchOS is a "derivative" of iOS
  • tvOS uses all of the same foundations as iOS, easy to move iOS apps to tvOS
  • Multiplayer game support, mixing Apple TV remote and iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as extra controllers.
  • Apple TV remote also can interact with apps like a Wii Remote does
  • Support for three additional iOS controllers for a total of four players
  • Universal apps now span iOS for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and tvOS
  • Support for game progress saves, continue playing where you last left off
  • Developers have access to tvOS now - developer.apple.com/tvos


iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus


At about 83 minutes, gets to the part of the presentation we have all been waiting for: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.



With so much packed into this presentation, you will recall that Apple chose to cut out all of the status updates.  Still, Tim Cook still found the time to take a jab at all of the Apple naysayers by pointing out the iPhone has grown 35% year-over-year.  Boom!



The new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will have bodies constructed with Apple's 7000 series aluminum and come in a new rose gold color in addition to silver, gold and space grey.  Being an "s: year, Apple has chosen to keep the same display sizes: 6s 4.7-inches and the 6s at 5.5-inches.  The bodies are slightly larger than the previous year, however, Apple's website still shows that iPhone 6-series and iPhone 6s-series phone will be able to fit into existing cases.

So of the new features about the new iPhone that I really like are:
  • iPhone 6S/Plus includes to Multi-Touch interface called 3D Touch
  • Peek and Pop Force Touch gestures for navigating and controlling iPhone
  • Tactile feedback is provided to the display via a Taptic engine
  • New 3D Force gestures for Peek and email are going to be a big time saver for me
  • iPhone 6S/Plus is powered by the new A9 processor
  • Desktop and console grade graphics - games look great on Metal for iOS
  • M9 motion coprocessor has now been moved directly into the A9 CPU
  • Apple gets points for a 12MP iSight camera; 5MP FaceTime camera (screen as flash!)
  • New Live Photos feature works across OS X El Capitan, iOS 9 on iPhone iPad and watchOS 2


In addition to the specs, Apple has made some changes to the hardware line up.
  • iPhone 6S/Plus will keep the same price configurations
  • iPhone 5S is free on contract
  • iPhone 5C is out (say goodbye to the last non-TouchID device)
  • You can now purchase your iPhone directly from Apple on a payment plan called iPhone Upgrade Program, which includes AppleCare+


The iPhone 6S/Plus go on sale Sept 25.  Pre-orders, the only humane way to order on iPhone, will be available with free shipping to your home or in store reservations.



There's a lot to digest with the Hey, Siri event and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the new hardware and software as soon as possible.

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