Apple Fall Event

It’s that time of the year, when Apple updates its “portable” collection of gadgets. This is the “S” upgrade year, so no one is really expecting a totally new set of iPhones. Here is what has been announced.

Apple Watch

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.15.53 PMApple has made some subtle and not-too-subtle improvements to its latest and smallest gadget. They released a whole new Apple Watch OS 2, which makes it easier to create new cool apps. Apple demonstrated a few of those, and they really look amazing. But they still don’t want me want to buy Apple watch, especially considering its $350+ price tag. I have recently bought a Microsoft Band for $150, and it has all the apps and features that I need in a wearable device right now. Apple has also included a few new watchbands and straps in the lineup, but no other major hardware changes. That’s not surprising since Apple Watch was introduced for the first time less than half a year ago.

 

iPad

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.48.49 PMAs expected, the biggest announcement today (no pun intended) concerned bigger, badder iPad Pro. It features a huge 12.9″ diagonal display, much larger than any other mainstream tablet that I know of. And as expected, it runs on a much faster CPU and GPU than its predecessors. It is thin, it is light, and it runs a lot of cool apps. From the presentation pitch, it is clear that Apple aims to position it as a TRUE laptop replacement. With it Apple has also launched a keyboard-embedded cover and a whole new stylus called Apple Pencil. Interestingly enough, Apple has also had folks from Microsoft come on stage and introduce their version of Office for iPad. Adobe has also introduced three of their new apps, designed to work specifically for iPad. They look cool, but they don’t really make me want to ditch my desktop version of Photoshop.

And that brings me to my biggest issue with the new iPad Pro: it is still just a larger version of iPad. It still runs iOS. It still has no easy way of connecting USB drives and external peripherals to it. There might be an attempt to integrate iOS and OS X at some point down the road, but so far there don’t seem to be any real hints that this might happen any time soon. I have been using a small inexpensive Windows 8″ NextBook tablet for almost a year. I bought it new at Walmart for $100. Yes, it is slow and limited, but I was able to run all of the “regular” desktop apps on it. I was able to effortlessly import, edit and share photos from my DSLR camera. Meanwhile, Windows Surface has for the first time in years made me want to buy a Windows computer. I’d love to get iPad Pro, but right now it’s too expensive and it isn’t nearly as much of a game changer as I would have hoped. If Apple is really serious about getting a true productivity tablet, then they could have (and should have) done much, much more.

Apple has also upgraded its low end iPad Mini to iPad Mini 4, with the exact same internal features as iPad Air 2. iPad Air, on the other hand, is not receiving any upgrades. So this is the first year since the original iPad was introduced that we won’t see a brand new 10″ iPad. I hope this is not the end of the line for that device, but iPad sales have been steadily declining over the years.

 

Apple TV

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.26.03 PMPeople have been speculating about Apple TV for years. As in actual TV, and not a little gadget that you attach to it in order to view video content. And Apple has consistently failed to deliver that kind of device. And if you ask me, that’s for the best. I have had horrible experience with “smart” TVs (Toshiba and Google-LG), and don’t recommend getting one at all. As far as I am concerned, the dumber the TV the better. Apple’s own little TV gadget has for years been treated as a “hobby”. This year’s upgrade is the biggest one in years, but the essential setup has not changed at all. The biggest change are the cool new touch remote and the integration of Siri. Apple has introduced tvOS – a version of iOs designed for Apple TV. Apple seems to be betting big time on apps as the future of television. Knowing how gaming is overall increasing at the expense of content watching, that is probably an astute choice.

 

iPhone

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.01.04 PMAnd, of course, there are the new iPhones. iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S plus to be more precise. They feature the so called “3D touch” technology. It’s the same force touch technology that was introduced in Apple MacBook earlier this year. It’s a great new way of interacting with you smartphone. Of course, it’s far from essential.

Siri is now always on. You just summon her by saying “Hey Siri.” This makes interacting with her much more spontaneous and instantaneous.

The new iPhones are, of course, faster and more powerful than the previous generation. The iPhones now feature the upgraded 12 MP iSight camera – the first upgrade in number of megapixels since iPhone 4S. The few photos that were showcased really looked great, with far more detail and better exposure and color accuracy. The new camera allows for the first time shooting a 4K quality videos. The new camera might be the single biggest new feature that makes upgrading to new iPhones worth it. The facetime camera has also received a bump to 5 MP. And there is also a new “Live Photo” shooting mode where the iPhone captures a few moments right before and after the photo is taken.

All these great new photo and video formats and sizes are great, but they mean that you will definitely run out of storage space on your phone much, much faster. I own an iPhone 6 plus with 128 GB of storage, and it will probably be enough for about 2 – 2.5 years of happy photo and video snapping. Your milage will vary – I got two adorable toddlers so I am very phot-trigger-happy. But if I were to start regularly shooting 4K videos and 12 MP photos (and what responsible father wouldn’t do that when it comes to capturing your children’s every moment), I’d be in trouble.

There has also been a big change in how you pay for your iPhone. The subsidised plans are still here, but now there are other available options, including paying in full. Apple, however, avoided mentioning this in their presentation, no doubt due to sticker shock that would be associated with seeing prices of new iPhones that reach almost $1,000 for the high-end models.

Overall, this has been a good show with some really cool new product, but without any real surprises. The only new-ish product – iPad Pro – is pretty cool, but underweight for a device in that category. Everything else is predictably good, but it is now more clear than ever before that Apple has settled into the comfortable evolution mode in its post Steve Jobs era. Hey, it has made Apple into the biggest company in the world, and the laws of economics and logic prevent you from getting much bigger and bolder once you reach that size. But there will be a point some time in the near future when we’ll go through another great technological revolution, and it’s not clear if Apple will have the right mindset to adapt to it. I guess, as the saying goes, time will tell.

 

Bojan Tunguz

Bojan Tunguz was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he and his family fled during the civil war for the neighboring Croatia. Over the past two decades he has studied, lived and worked in the United States. He is a theoretical physicist with degrees from Stanford and University of Illinois. Tunguz has taught physics at several prominent liberal arts colleges and has been writing about physics, science and technology for more than a decade. He also has a wide spectrum of interests, and reads and writes about current events, society, culture, religion and politics. Over the years he has reviewed many of the books that he has read, and posted his reviews on various online outlets. In 2011 he had become a top 10 reviewer on Amazon.com, where he continues to be very active. Aside from reading and writing, Tunguz enjoys traveling, digital photography, hiking, and fitness. He resides with his wife in Indiana. You can follow my review updates on the following pages as well: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tunguzreview Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tunguzreviews Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104312842297641697463/posts

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