Friday, September 11, 2015

A Hype-Free Guide to the Latest Apple Event…

Today’s edition of Tech News Digest is a little different than usual. Because Apple stole all of yesterday’s headlines. As you may have noticed, Apple held a small event, and blanket coverage by the press means there is no room for any other news.
So, it’s an all-Apple edition of Tech News Digest, with a look at everything Apple revealed at its latest event. However, as someone who takes a cynical view of Apple’s marketing, I’ll offer a more honest appraisal of everything Apple announced.
This is a guide to the “Hey Siri” event free of hyperbole.

The iPhone 6s & iPhone 6s Plus

As expected, Apple unveiled the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The announcement was accompanied by a new ad which suggests, “The only thing that’s changed is everything”. Which isn’t hyperbolic at all. Especially when the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus offer mostly incremental upgrades over their predecessors.
The only real innovation is the 3D Touch feature, which adds an extra layer of functionality. It’s an improved version of the Force Touch already present on the Apple Watch and newer MacBooks. Essentially, touching lightly on the screen will do one thing, while touching more firmly will do another. Groundbreaking.
Other than that there’s a new chip, a faster TouchID, and a 12-megapixel camera capable of shooting 4K videos. Apple fans waiting to upgrade can expect to pay $199 for the 16GB iPhone 6s and $299 for the 16GB iPhone 6s Plus.

The iPad Pro & Apple Pencil

Also as expected (because there are no longer any surprises at these events), Apple unveiled the iPad Pro, a larger version of the iPad with a whopping 12.9-inch screen. With iPad sales dropping off a cliff recently, Apple needs to do something to reinvigorate interest. And having gone smaller with the iPad mini, going bigger is the obvious answer.
The name suggests the iPad Pro isn’t being aimed at everybody, but professionals who will be able to make use of the larger screen and impressive computing power. Hence, the iPad Pro isn’t cheap, starting at $799 for 32GB of storage and pushing to $1,079 for the 128GB model. See, this really isn’t for the average person on the street.
That’s not even the end of the price gouging. If you want the keyboard that’s pretty much essential for a tablet of this size then that’ll cost you an extra $169. And the Apple Pencil, the stylus that Apple refuses to call a stylus, will set you back another $99. A call to your bank manager may be in order.

The New Apple TV Plays Games

Again as expected, Apple unveiled the new Apple TV. It looks and feels very much like the old Apple TV, but it does have some new tricks up its sleeve. Apple has clearly put some work into this new model, giving it a new operating system clumsily called tvOS, a dedicated app store, and a multitouch remote.
Siri is central to the new Apple TV, with the virtual assistant able to locate specific content viewers want to watch. But it’s gaming rather than television that Apple is pinning its hopes on here, with the new Apple TV able to play games from third-party developers. Don’t believe the hype though, as Apple TV is on a par with the Ouya or Steam Machines, and not the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The price is actually rather refreshing though, with the 32GB model costing $149 and the 64GB model costing $199. Which isn’t too bad for those who want a set-top box capable of streaming digital content and hosting casual games.

The Apple Watch & Native Apps

The Apple Watch is getting its first major update, with Apple unveiling watchOS 2 and some fashionable new bands. Depending on which source you listen to, sales of the Apple Watch have either been disappointing or stellar. But Apple is not giving up on its first wearable yet.
WatchOS 2, which brings new watch faces and native apps to Apple Watch, will be released on September 16. Meanwhile, Apple is partnering with fashion brand Hermès on a new set of bands available in a range of lurid colors. Because there’s literally no point wearing an Apple Watch unless people are going to notice.

The iPhone Upgrade Program

Apple wants your money, and it wants it now. And next month. And every month after that for the next decade. In order to achieve this lofty goal, Apple has announced the iPhone Upgrade Program, which locks current Apple fans under the company’s spell for two years at a time.
For a fee starting at $32-a-month, Apple fans in the U.S. can secure themselves a new iPhone every year. It locks you in for 24 months, but does offer AppleCare+ for the duration. So, in terms of pure math, this could work out cheaper in the long run. However, it takes away an element of choice. From switching to a different operating system to selling your old iPhone.

Steve Jobs: Who Needs a Stylus?

And finally, as previously mentioned, Apple has developed a new stylus designed to compliment the iPad Pro. Which is rather amusing because Steve Jobs hated styluses, and openly mocked them when unveiling the original iPhone all the way back in 2007. How times have changed.
Of course, Apple has found a way around this. Because this isn’t simply a stylus, it’s the all new Apple Pencil. That’s right folks, Apple has reinvented the pencil, that design classic which has been around for at least 200 years. Let’s see Apple try to patent that name!

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Do you have any opinions on the products Apple announced at this event? Will you be buying an iPhone 6s or an iPad Pro? Is the Apple Pencil a game-changer or just another stylus? Will the new Apple TV fail as hard as the previous models?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credits: John Mitchell via Flickr  Source:

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