New iPhones, a bigger iPad and a host of new features were all on show
After months of waiting, Apple finally took to the stage last night to show off its latest set of new releases.
Unveiling not one but two new iPhones, a new supersized iPad Pro, as well as an updated Apple TV, Watch OS and a range of new accessories and designs, the event was typically stylish and slightly weird. Here’s our round-up of the main headlines…
The new devices are the biggest and best Apple products yet
Tim Cook opened the evening’s proceedings by promising ‘some monster announcements’, and Apple didn’t disappoint.
The largest iPad ever, the 12.9in iPad Pro, was joined by the most powerful iPhone devices yet, with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus packing in faster, more beefy hardware than any of its predecessors.
The new smartphones are powered by Apple’s all-new A9 chip, which is 70 percent faster whilst carrying out CPU tasks and 90pc faster when doing GPU tasks than the preceding A8 processor.
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus also feature a pumped-up camera, faster LTE and Wi-Fi connections, and a more detailed and brighter screen than ever before, marking these devices out as seriously premium devices.
It’s a similar story for the iPad Pro. A major jump from the 8.9in device that was the previous largest Apple tablet, the new kid on the block is solidly positioned as a business device that offers greater portability and power than any iPad so far.
Inside, the A9X chip specially developed for the iPad Pro offers 1.8 times quicker speed when it comes to CPU performance, and offers twice as fast performance than the A8X chip it replaces in GPY power. This makes the iPad Pro faster than 80 percent of portable PCs that shipped in the last 12 months in CPU performance, and 90 percent faster in GPU performance.
This is some serious power, and is likely to transform the way consumers use both their tablets and their smartphones for work, rest and play.
And they’re also the most personal ever
Mobile devices are becoming an increasingly personal part of our lives, with many people loathe to be apart from them for any length of time. But largely, they are still lifeless slabs of glass and metal that fail to offer much in the way of interaction.
Apple’s latest devices have looked to change that a little thanks to two new features, 3D Touch and Live Photos.
The former is the most interactive feature to come to the iPhone product range yet. Described by Phil Schiller as “unlike any experience you’ve seen in a smartphone”, 3D Touch allows the device to monitor how hard a user is pressing on its screen, and perform different actions accordingly.
This includes displaying a list of most-used apps when accessed on the homescreen, as well as being built-in to many apps to offer up a wide range of custom options, such as accessing a map view of an address found in a text message, or flipping through photos.
Of course, this feature has long been present in Android devices in the form of the long touch feature, but now Apple has its hands on it we may see some very interesting features developed.
Live photos takes advantage of the all-new and improved iSight camera in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus to provide users with a more immersive view of their pictures. Making images come to life by capturing the surroundings both before and after the image is taken will lead to some stunning experiences, and will make a lot of people fall in love with their phone very quickly.
There are some odd accessories
As many technology observers noted last night, the late Steve Jobs famously remarked, “Who wants a stylus? You have to get em’, put em’ away. You lose them. Yuck,” at the reveal of the first iPhone back in 2007.
So why has Apple reinvented the stylus with the $99 Apple Pencil? It’s a sign that the iPad Pro is now overwhelmingly viewed as a work device – and the Apple Pencil is the key to getting hands-off. At last night’s event, much was made of the way that users can write, draw and otherwise interacting with the new, bigger screen. The Pencil will work with all Microsoft Office apps and a multitude of creative services, with Adobe taking to the stage to show off how the next generation of Photoshop will also take advantage of the new device.
And with developers now able to get their hands on both IOS9 and the Pencil, this could well be the start of a new era for iPad apps.
As for the new Smart Keyboard, this accessory could be the final nail in the Microsoft Surface coffin, as Apple fans finally have a decent keyboard to go with their iPad. But it seemed odd that Apple was so keen to promote the fact that the iPad Pro was large enough to support a full-size on-screen keyboard – although let’s be honest, most of us will always prefer using physical keys.
The only obvious hurdle to both devices seems to be the price. At $99 for the Apple Pencil and $199 for the Smart Keyboard, both seem rather costly, although if you’re willing to shell out $799 for the most basic iPad Pro model I doubt you’ll mind that too much….
Apple and Microsoft are now friends
Who’d have thought it? The two old enemies were both present on stage last night as Microsoft vice president Kirk Konigsbauer came on to demonstrate how well Office apps will work on the iPad Pro equipped with iOS 9.
Showing off a full gamut of apps, from Word to Excel to Powerpoint, it was a fascinating glimpse at how well these two tech titans can work together when they put their minds to it.
But can it last? With its Apple Pencil and magnetic keyboard, the iPad Pro copies heavily from Microsoft’s Surface product line, and, let’s face it, more people are going to be buying and using Apple’s device, meaning this could be curtains for Microsoft’s portable flagship.
The relationship was best summed up by the crowd’s reaction to Konigsbauer being welcomed onto the stage by Apple’s Phil Schiller. Having spent (and then continuing to spend) most of the evening whooping and cheering every Apple executive’s utterance, Microsoft’s entry was met by a sort of stunned silence, as if no-one really knew how to react. Apple and Microsoft may be friends for now, but it could be the start of a rocky relationship.
Apple TV is rapidly becoming a thing
Somewhat lost in the middle of last night’s show, stuck between the iPad Pro and the iPhone announcements, was a pretty major update to Apple TV.
Apple has seen the huge growth in popularity of services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and is now looking to make its own service smarter than ever before.
The new Apple TV is smarter than ever before, most notably incorporating Siri into a new intelligent remote which can help you find specific films, television episodes or even select scenes.
With smart televisions themselves still some way away from getting mainstream adoption, a plug and play Apple option should prove very appealing to consumers looking for that little bit extra in their TV.
Apple can still put on a hell of a show
Even though, for once, most of the rumours about Apple’s new releases proved to be correct, last night’s event was still a thunderous declaration that the company still has the power to impress.
Leaked images and device cases can only go so far, so to see the iPad Pro in action, alongside the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, was undoubtedly impressive.
Whether you’re a fanboy or a hater, Apple can still produce beautiful devices (with perhaps the exception of the Apple Pencil – possibly the biggest mugger magnet since the original white iPod headphones) and has once again set the bar. We can’t wait to get our hands on the new products, and see what is coming next.
What do you remember about the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch?