Well, another Apple Event has come and gone. As per usual at these events, things started out with the requisite Apple cheerleading…
- iPad “reinvented” portable computing.
- “Post PC” Devices making up 76% of Apple’s sales.
- 25 billion apps downloaded from the App Store.
- Apple stores all around the world – turnout is astronomical.
and so on. If you want to hear all that for yourself, you can view the whole presentation on Apple’s Events site.
Finally, though, Tim Cook and Company got down off the soapbox and started talking about the things we were looking for: new hardware and software.
Cook started out by talking about Siri and how it’s easily his favorite feature. He then went on to mention that the service will now be available in Japan today – in iOS 5.1. Other announcements were made (we’ll get to those in a sec), and the only other mention was that the stock apps were updated to take advantage of the new hardware.
Cook went on to talk about the App Store, then iCloud, and how iCloud now allows you to sync movies… 1080p movies, at that. But, at the moment, there was nothing of Apple’s that played back 1080p video… until they announced the new AppleTV.
Shape-wise, it’s still the same black square that they introduced last year. Inside, however, there have been a lot of improvements. Output is full 1080p and the interface is much more streamlined. You can get your iTunes playlists via iCloud, along with photos, and access to other apps. There’s even a feature that recommends moves based on others you’ve rented – not an entirely new concept, but a nice one to have. Current AppleTV 2 users should be able to get most of these features in an upcoming software update, but if you want 1080p, you’ll need the latest version.
The new AppleTV will run $99 and will be available next week.
The new iPad
Over the last few weeks, you couldn’t visit a tech site without some sort of speculation on what the features of the latest iteration of the iPad would be. Well… the waiting is over.
- Retina Display – 2048 x 1536, to be exact. Yep… that’s more pixels than your standard HDTV, packed into the standard screen size of an iPad. That’s brings it to about 264ppi, and so they’re calling it a “retina display.”
- A5X processor – This evolution from the A5 is a quad-core model, which manages to drive 4x the number of pixels as the iPad 2’s A5, yet manage to keep battery usage the same.
- iSight Camera - This brings the camera into sync, spec-wise, with the iPhone 4s. The iPad’s camera can now shoot 5Mpx images and record video in full 1080p. Adding to the quality is a 5-element f/2.4 lens with built-in image stabilization.
- Voice Dictation - Unfortunately, Siri did not make it to the iPad, but the same voice-recognition technology did. When typing in text, there’s now an microphone key. Push it and the Siri-style voice recognition types it in for you.
- 4G LTE - With speeds up to 73 Mbps, this latest iPad can now run you up against your data cap faster than ever! Apple’s partnering with providers worldwide, but here in North America, the providers are AT&T, Verizon, Rogers, Bell, and Telus – apparently with a version of the iPad for each carrier’s spectrum type. World travelers take note: worldwide 3G service is now compatible worldwide, so you can remain connected wherever you are (as long as you can get a signal). There’s even an option to use it as a “personal hotspot,” provided your carrier supports it.
- Many Things the Same – Despite all the upgraded hardware, battery life remains at about 10 hours, nine if you’re using a wireless data plan. The price points for the new models are the same as they were for the corresponding sizes for the iPad 2:
- 16GB Wi-Fi – $499
- 16GB Wi-Fi +4G – $629
- 32GB Wi-Fi $599
- 32GB Wi-Fi +4G $729
- 64GB Wi-Fi $699
- 64GB Wi-Fi +4G $829
They’re also keeping the 16GB iPad 2’s around and knocking a hundred bucks off – $399 and $529 for the Wi-Fi and the Wi-Fi+3G models, respectively.
Oh… and one other thing… note that we haven’t referenced Apple’s latest tablet as the “iPad 3.” Neither did Apple. Throughout the presentation – even in slides - and on Apple’s Web site, it’s generally referred to “the new iPad.” It appears Cupertino is dropping the numeral at the end of the name of the iPad. It is yet uncertain whether they’ll do the same with the iPhone or other iDevices.
iOS App Updates
Along with updating the stock iOS apps to take advantage of the new iPad Retina Displays, Apple released updates to its iWork suite. More “splashy,” though, were the updates to the core “iLife” apps.
Garage Band got several new features, including “Smart Strings”, a note editor, iCloud functionality, and sharing via something called “Jam Session” which lets you collaborate with other Garage Band users via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
iMovie got the “trailer” function from the desktop version, the ability to import Garage Band tracks, and a few interface tweaks.
Both these are free updates if you own the previous versions or $4.99 a pop if you don’t.
Apple also added the “missing” iLife app to iOS – iPhoto. This app effectively brings all the editing and adjustment features of the desktop version onto your iOS device. Extra features, such as the ability to find similar shots and sharable “photo journals” are just icing on the cake here.
Like it’s iLife siblings, iPhoto is also $4.99.
No more things..
Well, that about wraps it up for this Apple Event. Are you pumped about the new display? Disappointed that there’s still no expandable storage? Something else invoking a strong reaction? Post your opinions in the comments below.