Recap: Apple’s Special Event, October 2014

Recap: Apple’s Special Event, October 2014

It turns out the “one more thing” that Apple had to tell us was about eight different things. With the keynote that was aired on Thursday, October 15th, Tim Cook, as he usually does, walked us through the facts and figures that surround the new devices.

Apple Pay

Giving a brief update on the Apple Pay system, Mr. Cook announced the launch date. It turns out that October 20th is going to be the day that Apple Pay goes live.

Apple Watch

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Whether you are a fan of this device or not, you have to give Apple some props for announcing the release of WatchKit. I know the developers are looking forward to being able to work with it. Even though a true release date was not given, we now know the general time of release will be in early 2015.

iOS 8.1

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When Craig Federighi took the stage, the only thing I wanted to hear was the release date of 8.1. But of course, there was the obligatory run through of the enhanced features of iOS 8. With talk of how the new extensions can be used, the use of metal for all the gaming that the new devices are capable, to the breakdown of the swift programming language.

“Feedback” is how Mr. Federighi described the response to the debacle that is known as 8.0.1, and the seemingly knee-jerk reaction that is 8.0.2. The crowd starting laughing a bit when he said “feedback” and they started cheering when the word improvements shown on the screen. Apparently these improvements include bringing back the camera roll along with support for Apple Pay and the beta for iCloud Photo Library. iOS 8.1 will be available to download on October 20th.

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite

With an update on how the beta for the OS was so popular, we were guided on a little refresher on how Yosemite has been reworked. With the new features of Safari being highlighted, we saw how it had more sharing features, was faster, and improved the battery life. The new features in mail were next showing Markup and Mail Drop.

Messages was the next stop, followed by iTunes, and even iWork. The next stop on the refresher tour was iCloud Drive. I like how he said, “Even if you’re working under extreme duress, a Windows PC”, speaking of how you’re able to access all of your documents no matter where you are or what you may be working on.

Continuity

Highlighting the features of Handoff, where you can pickup where you left off when working on any Mac or iOS device, and Instant Hotspot, where you can instantly connect to your phone without ever having to unlock it. Next, to SMS Relay, where you’ll be able to receive and send text messages from your Mac or iOS device. And finally, to the ability to make and receive calls from your Mac or iOS devices.

To be even more of a refresher, we were given a demo of how all these features worked. We were even given a little glimpse into just how crazy these guys can be with the Keynote on security.

We were finally given the piece of news that every iOS and Mac user was waiting on the edge of their seats for, Yosemite was made available for free, as has been the trademark for the past few iterations of the OS, and 8.1 is going to be available on October 20th.

iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3

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With the stage being handed back over to Tim, we were given a rundown on how the iPad has been doing in sales, power, and performance. Showing how the device has come into our lives and changing how we do things, it transitioned into the introduction of the new iPad Air 2.

Tim invited Phil Schiller to take the stage and he gave us the breakdown of the new iPad. At 6.1mm thick, it shows up to be 18% thinner than the iPad Air, and claims the title of World’s Thinnest Tablet. Showing how the iterations have progressed to where they are today, they showed the original iPad next to the iPad Air 2. The device is so thin, that you can stack two of them on top of each other and they will not be as thick as the original iPad that Steve Jobs introduced back in 2010.

Moving on, we learned that the air gap that exists between the touch layer and the LCD, has been removed and the two elements are now bonded together. According to the presentation, this will reduce internal reflection giving the device a sharper image. We also saw how they have added an anti-reflective coating that reduces reflections by 56% allowing us to see more of the screen, and not ourselves.

Showing the next generation A8X chip, the performance graph, and having a demo of just how the iPad Air 2 can handle graphics thanks to Metal. The presentation showed just how powerful the device is and still has the exact same battery life as the previous models.

A new iSight camera has been added. Sporting an 8MP camera, a f/2.4 aperture, and the ability to record video in 1080p, it makes the device more appealing. Running down the new abilities, thanks to the image signal processor, Phil gave us a look at just how good the pictures are, and what the iPad is capable of. From the panoramic shots and time lapse, which were made available through iOS 8, to the burst mode and slow motion that are now available.

Switching to the front of the device we saw the new FaceTime camera with a larger f/2.2 aperture which allows 81% more light into the sensor. With the ability to run on the 802.11 ac network and improved LTE bands out-of-the-way, he finally got down to the thing that everyone was waiting to see, the iPad Air 2 has Touch ID. This was met by a round of applause.

It seemed superfluous to mention how Touch ID works since it has been around for almost a year, but Mr. Schiller was committed. The inclusion of Apple Pay was a nice “touch” especially since it will be available on the 20th. He made it a point to say that it is not for retail or POS purchases, but for online shopping only. Thankfully, we may not see anyone going through their local Starbucks drive thru and attempt to pay with their iPad. Although, I’m pretty sure someone out there will try.

One interesting part of the keynote was when the team for Pixelmator showed just how their app works with the iPad Air 2. Giving a live demonstration of your app has to be nerve-racking. Especially when untold millions of people are watching, but they handled everything with ease. The team from Replay did the same, even when autocorrect decided to rear its ugly head and replace Utah Road Trip with It’s Road Trip. Both teams handled themselves terrifically and were able to showcase their apps effectively.

When Phil returned, we learned the pricing and the dates for pre-order. Starting at $499, the starting price of the previous iPad Air, it’s goes along with the Apple standard in capacities at 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB respectively. An update to the iPad Mini was also announced, bringing Touch ID to it as well. Both devices will be available for pre-order on October 17th and will start shipping the week of the 20th.

Mac

Retina 5K Display

Phil gave a run through of the industry growth, and gave a little refresher on what they had done with MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. With a little video, he introduced the iMac with Retina display. This new Mac boasts a display that has a 5120×2880 resolution, or as Apple calls it, the Retina 5K Display. With a little overlay, he showed exactly what that means. It gave a good perspective as to just how different the new display is from the previous models.

With a screen that has 7x more pixels than a full 1080 screen, everything looks amazingly clear. The design team had to come up with a lot of things to make this possible and keep it in the same housing. Things like, a timing controller (T-Con) which has 4x the bandwidth of modern displays. The Oxide Thin Film Transistor (TFT) which allows for faster pixel charging and holds a charge longer. Organic Passivation, which reduces pixel cross-talk, making the image detail stay intact. And even a new backlight powered by LEDs, to allow a brighter display at a lower energy cost. It also has the Photo Alignment technology which allows for better on-axis contrast ratio and the Compensation Film which gives an improved off-axis contrast ratio. These allow to have the best viewing experience from whatever angle. The Retina 5K display is the best screen out on the market today.

After a quick video singing the praises of the new display, he broke down the internals. With the processor starting at an Intel 3.5GHz quad core i5 and upgradable to the 4.0GHz quad core i7, it makes for the fastest processors you can place in a Mac. The graphics are powered by the AMD Radeon R9 M290X chip and is upgradable to the M295X, giving you an impressive 3.5 teraflops of power for graphics. I/O speeds are increased as well with the Thunderbolt 2 ports allowing for 20mbps bandwidth. The new iMac comes with the 1TB Fusion Drive for saving your data. The price for the iMac starts at $2499 and they are available for purchase.

Another update was given during his presentation, and this was to the Mac mini.  Adding support for 4th-gen Intel Core processors, giving it faster graphics with the Intel Iris and HD graphics 5000, PCIe-based flash storage, ac wifi, and two thunderbolt 2 ports. It makes it a pretty good little package for someone who wants to get their first Mac. The best thing is that the price has been dropped and it starts at $499. With that, the stage was turned back over to Tim.

“This is the strongest lineup of products that Apple has ever had.” He said in his closing statement. “We believe that each one of these play a very important role. People need different types of technology for the way they live their lives. We all do different things.” He elaborated a bit on the different types of devices that are available. Going through the lineup and highlighting the new features. The closing line that “they are just getting started” makes you wonder what else the team at Apple has in store. Looks like we’ll have to find out at the next keynote.

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