Well, another Apple event has come and gone. It started out with CEO Tim Cook recapping the success of the iPhone 5, the iPod Touch and iPod nano and later talking about iBooks. However, we’re going to focus on all the new hardware that got announced today – and there was a lot of it.
The Mac line got a big refresh, with updates to the iMac, Mac mini, and 13” MacBook Pro.
The mini had the smallest outward changes, with most of its improvement happening internally. All the expected upgrades are there, most notably the addition of USB 3.0. This along with the existing Thunderbolt and FireWire 800 ports, gives the mini multiple high-performance upgrade options and makes the NewerTech miniStack a perfect fit. We will have to verify this once we get one in, but the internal layout appears unchanged (other than the chipsets) so upgrading memory and internal storage on the new Mac mini should also remain relatively unchanged - including adding a second drive via a Data Doubler.
The 13” MacBook Pro got a Retina Display version, with features and layout similar to the 15” model. The Retina display is the big feature here, along with the thinner profile, removal of the optical drive, and internal solid state drive. This wasn’t all that surprising and had been talked about for quite a while in the rumor mill prior to today’s event. For those who would like a little more configurability, the non-Retina MacBook Pros are still available, though you now have to scroll down to the bottom of the MacBook Pro page on Apple’s site to find them.
As far as Macs go, the iMac got the most radical treatment. The whole unit has been made considerably thinner by means of removing the optical drive and incorporating a much thinner display unit. USB 3.0 connectivity was added, but FireWire 800 is now removed. Thankfully, the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire 800 Adapter allows support for existing drives.
Internally, there is support for both a flash drive and an internal SATA drive, and they can be combined into what Apple is calling a “Fusion Drive,” which promises both the speed boost of an SSD with the capacity of a platter-based drive. It also appears on first glance that this iMac may be easier to upgrade than previous generations, but we will have to wait until we get one in to be sure. As far as memory upgrades go, only the 27-inch model’s specs mention user-upgradability, but it’s also indicated that the 21.5-inch model uses the same modules, so upgrading there should also be a simple-enough procedure.
It wasn’t just Macs that got upgrades, though. We also got some new hardware on the iPad front.
In a surprise move, Apple announced the 4th Generation iPad - just 7 months after the previous version. Like its predecessor the new iPad sports a Retina Display and has a 10-hour battery life, but that’s where the similarities end. The 4th Generation iPad packs a A6X processor that’s twice as fast and has faster WiFi. It also features the new Lightning connector, which now has several adapters available for USB and SD card compatibility. It’s not as revolutionary an upgrade so if you bought a 3rd Generation iPad, you’re not missing out on too much, but for those looking to upgrade from previous models, it’s worth considering.
That wasn’t the only iPad on the table today, though. Apple also announced the iPad mini: the long-awaited, frequently-rumored, smaller version of the iPad. The iPad mini’s 7.9” screen features the same 1024 x 768 pixel resolution as the iPad 2, so all existing iPad software will run on it, something developers will appreciate. Like it’s big brother, it also has a 10-hour battery life, a Lightning connector, up to 64GB storage and is available in Wifi and WiFi+LTE Cellular configurations.
There were also a couple of software updates announced – both regarding iBooks. Both the iBooks app and iTunes Author have been updated, though those were obviously outshone by the new hardware. For more information on the new features—and to see all the new hardware in all its glory—you’ll want to check out the streaming broadcast of the keynote on Apple’s site.
What caught your attention the most with today’s announcements? Let us know in the comments below.