I know the title says “September Event,” but this might have been Apple’s only event this fall. That’s what sources were telling us leading up to last Wednesday, and it seems like they were right. This event was jam packed, and did cover pretty much every Apple product. So what all happened? Let’s dive in:
First comes the Apple Watch. No Watch 2.0 here (it was, after all, just released in March), but there were a few new color combinations. The Sport model now comes in yellow gold and rose gold aluminum. In addition, there’s a whole slew of new bands, both colors and styles. Finally, they briefly mentioned watchOS 2, but they didn’t give much of a demo. To be fair, they had already demoed it at WWDC, but in the past Apple’s always given a refresher demo right before the release in the fall. For the people who had seen WWDC, it was a little repetitive, but it was probably still worth doing. However, Apple had so much to talk about at this event that I guess they just didn’t have time.
Enough of the boring new-colors announcements. Apple has released an enormous new iPad Pro. It has a 12.9″ diagonal screen (compared to the iPad’s 9.7″ and the iPad Mini’s 7.9″) that looks like it’s going to be stunning. It can run two apps at the same time, side by side (the same feature we saw demoed for the iPad Air 2 at WWDC). For those in the business world, there’s a keyboard case; for those in the creative world, there’s a stylus, dubbed the Apple Pencil. This new iPad won’t come cheap, however. It starts at $799, plus $99 for the Pencil and $169 for the keyboard. Other than the new iPad Pro, Apple also released a new iPad Mini (the 4th generation), with specs on par with last year’s iPad Air 2. This was the first year we didn’t see a new regular sized iPad.
This was huge. People have been waiting for this for years. To drop the most important part on you in one sentence: The new Apple TV runs apps. There’s an app store, which will include everything from entertainment channels to games. Games can be played on Apple’s new remote. It has motion sensors like a Wii Remote, a few buttons, and a small touch surface. But most importantly, it also has a microphone. That’s right, the new Apple TV has Siri. You can use Siri to search for TV shows and movies from iTunes, Netflix, hulu, HBO, and Showtime all at the same time. Pretty cool. You can also ask Siri to show you the whether or sports scores in the middle of your show. The thing that stuck out to me most, however, was that you can ask Siri, “What did she say?”, and it will skip back 15 seconds in your show and turn the captions on for just that 15 seconds. Someone should’ve thought of that years ago.
Yes, of course you’ve been waiting for it, there are new iPhone available. There’s the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus, in the same two sizes as last year. They’re also available in a new color, rose gold. This is an S model year, so there aren’t that many big improvements. The biggest one is called 3D Touch. As far as I can tell, it’s the same as Force Touch on the Apple Watch (in fact, Federighi accidentally called it that once on stage and had to correct himself). This means that the iPhone’s screen now registers how hard you’re pressing on the screen. This allows you to do cool things like preview links sent in a text message. Press hard on the link, and it pops up in a little window. Press even harder, and it pops to full screen. Pretty neat. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus also have improved cameras, as usual. They now shoot 4K video, which is cool, until you realize that Apple is still selling the 16gb model of the iPhone. Let it go, Apple.
At the end of the iPhone demo, iOS got a short spot. All it really had was a demo of 3D Touch; like watchOS, they just didn’t have time to redo the WWDC demo. We did get a release date, however: Wednesday, September 16.
Oddly enough, the Mac didn’t seem to get any time at the event. It’s not a surprise that there’s no new Mac hardware; we did just get that new Macbook back in March. But I would’ve thought that they’d at least give 10 minutes to show off OS X El Capitan, and then announce a release date. That would seem to totally wrap up the product line in a single fall event. Apple’s website now says that El Capitan will be available on September 30, but I don’t think that was even said on stage (maybe I just missed it?). Of course, it’s not like this event was lacking in news just because they didn’t talk about the Mac. ••