Apple’s October Event

Apple made a big splash last month with their September event (which I covered both before and after), and now they’re hoping to do the same with their second major event of the fall.  Last Thursday, Apple had their October event, during which we saw updates to their iPad and Mac lines.  There weren’t many big surprises at this event; most of the new advances were pretty much expected.  Still, Apple has released some cool new hardware and software that I’m excited about.

iPad
Apple unveiled the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 on Thursday.  The iPad Air 2 is slightly lighter and thinner than the iPad Air, but the iPad Mini 3 has the same dimensions as the Mini 2.  The iPad Air 2 also has a new processor chip and several camera improvements, but the iPad Mini 3 remains the same as the 2nd generation in both those respects.  This seems odd to me, but I guess the full-size iPad has higher sales, so Apple pays more attention to it.  Both new iPads do, however, include Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader.  They also both come in the new color gold (similar to the iPhone), in addition to the silver and Space Gray models.  One other interesting note: Apple will continue to sell the original iPad Mini for $249.  When this model first launched two years ago, it started at $329.  Apple was widely criticized for not offering a $200 or $250 model, but they stuck to their guns.  Last Black Friday, we saw original iPad Minis going for around $200, but now there’s finally a $250 iPad that doesn’t require braving Black Friday.

Mac
Apple unveiled several new Mac models on Thursday, including an iMac with a Retina 5K display, which has a 5120 x 2880 resolution (to put it into perspective, 1080p HD is 1920 x 1080, and 4K is 3840 x 2160).  There was also a new Mac Mini, with a reduced (but still high) starting price of $499.  The new version of the Mac’s operating system, OS X Yosemite, was available to download the same day as the event.  This surprised me; I didn’t think Yosemite would be available for another 7-10 days.  You can be sure that next week I will have a review of this new operating system.

iOS 8.1
Apple also announced iOS 8.1 on Thursday.  This is the next update to Apple’s mobile operating system, and it will be available Monday.  The update will include some new photo features, in addition to one old one: the “Camera Roll” photo album is back (it was replaced with “Recently Added” in iOS 8.0).  Apple says that it has listened to user feedback from iOS 8 and used it to help create iOS 8.1.

Apple Pay
Apple Pay was announced last month, but we weren’t told exactly when it would be released.  Now we finally have an official date: Apple Pay will launch alongside iOS 8.1 this Monday, October 20.

That’s about it.  The October event is never quite as big for Apple as the September event is, since the iPhone is a much more pervasive product than the iPad or Mac.  Still, I’m excited about what I saw at this event.  I’m most excited about OS X Yosemite, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  As a general rule, I usually get more excited about software updates from Apple, as opposed to hardware updates.  The new iPads are cool and everything, but updating my OS is free; updating my iPad would cost me $500.  ••

Special Edition: Follow Up for the Apple Event

Today at 10am Pacific time (1pm Eastern), Apple had its September Event.  I watched the two-hour event live (after the stream quit glitching).  We saw a lot of cool stuff, most of which did line up with my predictions.  Here’s the full rundown on what actually happened.

iPhone
We did see new iPhones at this event.  I was correct that there was a 4.7″ iPhone 6, as well as a 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus.  There was not, however, a 4″ model, which surprised me.  Apple will continue to sell the 4″ iPhone 5s and 5c as the $99 and Free models (with a 2-year contract), respectively.  I was also correct that there was not an iPhone 6c.  The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be available for pre-order September 12, and for purchase September 19th.

iOS 8
iOS 8 was officially launched at the event, and will be available September 17th.

iPad
I was correct that there were no new iPad models at this event.

Mac
There were no new Mac models or software launched at this event.

Apple Watch
Apple announced a new smart watch at this event, the Apple Watch.  There are three models: the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport (a more durable model), and the Apple Watch Edition (an 18-karat gold model).  Each will come in large and small sizes.  The watch will link to your iPhone, showing your emails, messages, maps, music, as well as fitness data (a major focus of the Apple watch).  There is a completely new user interface, centering around a dial on the side of the watch, called the “crown.”  It reminds me of the old iPod click wheel.  The Apple Watch requires an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, or 6 Plus in order to be used.  The Apple Watch will be released in early 2015, and will start at $349.

Apple TV
As I guessed, there was nothing about the Apple TV at this event.

Beats
There was no big announcement concerning Beats, though they did pretend to buy Beats headphones in their demo of Apple Pay.

iPod
There were no new iPod models at the event.  I think the iPod’s days are seriously numbered.

The Death of 16gb
I didn’t quite get my wish, but I think I’ll get it next year.  The iPhone 6 comes in a $199 16gb model, but the $299 model is 64gb, and there’s an all-new 128gb model for $399 (add another $100 for the iPhone 6 Plus).  My guess is that next year there will be no 16gb model.

Apple Pay
This is going to be really cool.  You know those credit card scanners that you just wave your card in front of?  Now you can do that with your iPhone 6, 6 Plus, or Apple Watch (through near-field communication, or NFC).  Security was a big deal here, and Apple really went the extra mile (or several) to make sure nothing bad can happen.  All the credit card data is stored in the same secure enclave of your iPhone as your Touch ID fingerprint data is.  That brings us to Touch ID, which will be the way you access Apple Pay.  Finally, third-party apps (such as Target) can integrate with Apple Pay, allowing you to use that information instead of typing in credit card and billing info for each individual app.

U2
Apple closed the event by talking about their love for music, throwing in a plug for the iTunes Festival happening right now in London.  They then brought the band U2 on stage, who performed their new single live.  Apple CEO Tim Cook then had some playful negotiating with the band, eventually “deciding” to give the band’s new album for free to all 500 million iTunes members.

So, needless to say, Apple has been very busy during the last few months.  I’m really excited to see all these new devices in action, and I’m even more excited to get my hands on iOS 8.  You can be sure I’ll have a post detailing that when it releases, and I might also do some posts detailing other products individually.  If you’re interested, you can watch the whole event on Apple’s website.  Be sure to share this post with the buttons below so all your friends know that you’re up to date on the latest tech!