Apple released a few new products and updates today, most of which were expected, one which we were wrong about.
First, we've got confirmation of iOS 9 being released next Wednesday on September 16th.
The biggest change with iOS 9 for the iPad at any rate is the iPad's new multitasking mode, which allows users to run two apps side by side simultaneously, similar to features in Windows and Galaxy tablets. Siri is also getting an upgrade, as a new feature called Proactive will offer contextual user suggestions based on habits, location, or time of day. Spotlight searches will also get more powerful, allowing users to search content within apps and perform unit conversions without opening a web search.
We also saw a hint that September 30th will be the release date for El Capitan, the next update to Apple's OS X operating system.
The long-awaited overhaul to Apple's set-top box is here. Today the company announced its latest Apple TV with a revised physical design, faster internals, updated remote, and key new features including a built-in App Store. "It's the golden age of television," said CEO Tim Cook. "Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps."
The new Apple TV is much more powerful than its predecessor, which is a crucial upgrade for the device’s gaming ambitions. It's powered by a 64-bit A8 processor and supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. "It's just 10 millimeters taller," than the previous device, said Apple's Eddy Cue. As for connections, the new Apple TV carries over the same, simplistic power / HDMI / ethernet setup as the old model. It will launch in late October in two configurations: 32GB for $149 or 64GB for $199.
With the newly built-in app store, Apple and third-party developers will expand Apple TV's software ecosystem and widen its core functionality to put a much bigger emphasis on gaming. "When you consume this way, you realize just how much better it can be," Cook said. This is the next step in Apple's attempt to own the living room, and arrives ahead of the company's own internet TV subscription service, expected to arrive sometime in the next year.
Having been an Apple TV user since the first edition, I'm looking forward to trying this out.
iPad Pro and iPad Mini 4
The iPad Pro has been rumoured for some time, and today it finally got announced.
The new iPad Pro uses a 12.9-inch display (2732 x 2048 resolution with 264 ppi), and makes use of the new split screen app features of iOS 9. The width of the iPad Pro is the same as the height of the iPad Air 2. "It can do things that a smartphone doesn’t do because it doesn’t have to sit in your pocket," says Apple's Phil Schiller. Apple is using the same technology from its iMac with Retina 5K display to bring the iPad Pro pixels to life. "For the first time in an Apple display, it has a variable refresh rate," explains Schiller. This means Apple can slow the display down and save battery.
Inside it's using Apple's new A9X processor, which Apple claims is 1.8 times faster than the previous chip it replaces. "Our chip team is just on fire," says Schiller. Graphics on the iPad Pro have doubled in terms of performance, so it's clearly going to be a fast device for games and productivity apps. "It is faster than 80 percent of the portable PCs that shipped in the last 12 months," claims Schiller. "In graphics tasks it's faster than 90 percent of them."
The iPad Mini also got a refresh, gaining the same specs as the iPad Air 2 in a smaller package.
And of course, there's a new iPhone. The iPhone 6S (and iPhone 6S Plus) have some nice new features and according to Tim Cook: "The only thing that's changed is everything, these are the most advanced smartphones in the world."
The iPhone 6S Plus retains its 5.5-inch Retina display, but this time it's covered by a new, even tougher glass, which Apple describes as the strongest in the industry. It will also feature 3D Touch, implementing a version of the Force Touch functionality that was first introduced with the Apple Watch and MacBook touchpads earlier this year.
You can use 3D Touch to get a "peek" at content in apps like email and then, if you keep holding, enter the particular message. 3D Touch allows you to press down on the iPhone's screen to pull up new menus, activate shortcuts, and generally interact with the device in new ways. This has been woven in throughout the iOS interface and default apps to give extra contextual functionality tied to pressure detection. Apple's Taptic Engine is also built into the phone to provide feedback.
Over all, this should be an interesting year for Apple with the iPad Pro, iOS 9, El Capitan, Apple TV 4 and the new iPhones.