The tagline for this year’s fall Apple event was “It’s been way too long.” Was this Apple hinting at long-needed refreshes or an ironic joke about this event taking place a mere 37 days after the iPhone 6 extravaganza? Judging by what was announced, it was the former, as the company unveiled its first Mac mini update in about two years along with a Retina iMac and refreshed iPads.
As usual, CEO Tim Cook took the stage first and discussed the success of the recently released iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models as well as Apple Pay and the as-of-now unreleased Apple Watch. Cook announced that Apple Pay will begin Monday and the Apple Watch will be released “early 2015”, before moving on to the main focus of today’s event – new software releases and additions to the iPad and Mac lineups.
iOS 8: Craig Federighi was first to take the baton from Cook to talk about the new mobile operating system, iOS 8. Federighi mostly discussed previously unveiled features of the operating system and unveiled iOS 8.1 which took “… a little bit of feedback” received from customers in to account. The “beloved” camera roll will be brought back and we will get a public beta version of iCloud Photos. However, we’ll have to wait until Monday for the release of iOS 8.1.
Yosemite: Last year’s release of Mavericks brought many changes to Apple’s Mac operating system including a new naming convention that ditches the long-running cat theme and focuses on famous California locations. Of course, this year’s release – Yosemite – brings a host of new features including a new flatter design. Federighi again rehashed the new capabilities announced at WWDC earlier this year, discussing the speedy and more efficient new Safari, Mail, Messages and iCloud Drive. Yosemite is available for free download today. Also available free today is the new iWorks suite.
iOS 8 & Yosemite working together: With iOS 8.1 finally comes Continuity compatibility. Continuity will let users move between devices, whether it’s an iDevice or a Mac, while working on tasks. Users will also be able to receive phone calls on their Macs among other features.
iPad Air 2: The new, thinner iPad Air 2 (will it ever be thin enough for Apple?) received a host of upgrades, other than its fresh shave, including a new gold model. Even with the thinner design, it is said to have a sharper and less reflective display with all new guts to power it. The Air 2, which was oddly compared mostly to the original iPad, gets the scorching fast new A8X chip and new M8 coprocessor. It also got the standard camera upgrade with burst, time lapse and slow motion video modes along with a new Face Time camera with improved sensor. The final major new feature announced was the addition of Touch ID with its many shopping/security capabilities. Of course, the iPad Air will begin at $499 like its predecessors with pre-orders beginning tomorrow and shipping set for next week.
iPad mini 3: Not much to see here… No, that’s not a “mini” or “it’s really thin” joke. The iPad mini 3 is almost exactly the same as the previous version except it features Touch ID and a new gold version. That’s it… really. Luckily, Apple kept the previous version around for $100 cheaper. So, yeah, not much to see here.
iMac with Retina 5K Display: The Retina display has finally made the leap from MacBook and iDevice to the desktop. Coming in a 27” version only, the iMac with Retina 5K Display features the “world’s highest resolution display.” The display weighs in at 5,120 x 2,880, which is 7x more pixels than 1080p and 67% more pixels than 4K. The iMac is still 5mm thin at the edge, comes standard with a 1TB Fusion Drive, a 3.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics, and 8GB of memory. And as for pricing, it begins at $2,499 and is available to ship today.
Mac mini: The final unveiling came in the form of the long-awaited Mac mini refresh. Phil Schiller briefly outlined the new features of the Mac mini along with its new starting price tag of $499. Here are the details on the new Mac mini that’s available to ship today:
- 4th-generation Intel Core processors
- Intel Iris and HD Graphics 5000
- PCIe-based SSDs
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Two Thunderbolt 2 ports
Of course, we will share any additional information as soon as we can get our hands on the new model.
While plenty was announced, there were a few rumored items missing such as the iPod, Apple TV, a MacBook Air with a Retina display, and a 5K standalone Cinema Display. We may have to wait for the next “it’s been too long” event for these overdue releases.