Apple October Event 2014: iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3, Retina 5K iMac, Mac Mini, OS X Yosemite and iOS 8!

Apple October Event 2014

At Apple’s October Event, which actually never gained a name, Apple announced a ton of new devices and software experiences, practically covering everything left over … almost, but we’ll get in to that later. What we we’ll get in to now however, is the announcements themselves!

Stats

Apple didn’t announce anything stat wise at their last event as everything “was fine”, but at this event they definitely wanted to remind us just how well the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been selling. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t share any numbers of how many had sold other than to state it as the “fastest selling iPhones in history”, and that in the first 30 days they’ve broke all records by A LOT! Data would’ve been nice Apple, but we’ll believe you.

China will be getting the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus tonight (maybe already by this post), and will be available on ALL of Chinas fast growing LTE networks and Carriers.

Apple Pay now has support for another 500 banks, as well as even more companies who have announced they will be using Apple Pay. Apple Pay can be used to purchase things within Retail Stores using an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus starting this Monday.

iOS 8 currently running on over 48% of iOS devices, compared to 25% of Android users running on KitKat.

Over 1 Million users have tested out OS X Yosemite in the Public Betas alone.

iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite

We, for some reason, felt compelled to use this picture of Craig Federighi
We, for some reason, felt compelled to use this picture of Craig Federighi

Aside from a very dodgy Comic sketch … of some kind, featuring Stephen Colbert, somewhat deserving of this picture, Craig Federighi ran over the announcements from WWDC around both iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, then announced some major updates coming to Apple’s iWork suite for both platforms today.

YOSEMITE

OS X Yosemite MBA

Apple also announced that OS X Yosemite, the next major version of their Mac operating system will be available shortly Today, that’s right, head to the Mac App Store to upgrade your Mac for free to the latest version of OS X, Yosemite. For those of us running the current Public Beta, which ironically we’re writing this post on, it’s very likely you’ll have to remove the install and replace it with the Retail version of OS X Yosemite. We’ll of course update this post if we hear any different. UPDATE: Developers on OS X Yosemite GM2 and Public Beta 6 users and later, you are running the final version of Yosemite. When Apple releases it’s next Software Update for Yosemite, you will receive the update as well catching up to Retail release.

iOS 8.1

iOS 8

Apple are touting iOS 8.1 as the update for “improvements”, but we’re going to rephrase that correctly as bug fixes. Apple will of course be delivering the level of bug fixes expected from a .1 release, alongside probably one of the biggest features of iOS 8 and the iPhone 6/6 Plus, Apple Pay. Unfortunately, as Apple Pay is US only, we won’t be covering much more of it, but like Apple Pay, iOS 8.1 will be released Monday.

iOS 8.1 also delivers one fix and feature people have been requesting since iOS 8s launch, and both are relation to Photos. First up, the return of the ‘Camera Roll’, people didn’t like that whole ‘Recents’ section apparently.

Apple also finally took the wraps of their new Photos feature, allowing you to synchronise more Photos than your device can hold through iCloud (beta). The only problem we have with this new Photos solution, other than Apple’s current automated Photo Streams, is they use iCloud storage, so that tiny 5GB you get for free, will pretty much be gone in seconds, which is annoying as convenience-wise, this is an awesome feature. iCloud Photos will be available on all your iOS devices, Mac once the Client launches, and online on your Mac or PC though the iCloud website.

iWORK SUITE

Apple have also updated their iWork suite across both OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, offering the new user interface to Yosemite users, and finally delivering Continuity between Apple’s Office suite. Thanks to the Continuity features, users can now start a document, and continue where they left off on their Mac or iOS device, or visa-versa.

Personally, we would love to see Continuity built in to Microsoft’s next version of Office for Mac, considering they have Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad, and Office on iPhone, but we’ll have to see whether that comes to any fruition.

iPad

To kick off Apple’s iPad announcements, Apple kicked off the announcements by putting things in to perspective. In just 4 years since the first iPad was announced, Apple have sold a massive 225 Million of the things, but not only that, if you take the top 4 PC manufacturers and compare their sales with just iPad, the iPad outsells them! Apple also claimed that the iPad Air received ‘100% customer satisfaction’ rating … something which we really have to question, don’t get us wrong it’s a great tablet, but 100% seems rather sketchy?

But, let’s not make that dampen our spirits, let’s check out the updates to iPad

iPad Air 2

iPad Air 2

If you thought the iPad Air was thin, powerful, and generally just kicked ass as a tablet, this the new iPad Air 2 is just gonna make you re-evaluate that all over again! If you can believe it, it’s 18% thinner than the iPad Air, that’s nearly a fifth gone, which is just silly at just 6.1mm and weighting in at pocket change weight of just 0.96 pounds. Apple even joked that if you stacked two iPad Air 2 devices on top of each other, they’d still be thinner than the original iPad. …Although let’s be fair, the first iPad was thick.

But, as expected, Apple haven’t exactly toned down what they put in to the iPad Air, yes it’s faster, yes it’s better and all that, but the best way we think to put in to perspective all they’ve added, it’s easier to show you what you gain over the last iPad Air (iPad Air 1 now, I guess it’s called)!

YES, IT COMES IN GOLD!

iPad Air 2 Colours

If Gold is your thing, then this iPad Air 2 might also be that thing you’ve been looking for. Whilst the design of the new iPad Air 2 may not be much of a departure from the iPad Air 1, the inclusion of Gold and that insane thinness sure is, just adds to the options you have with these devices. For us, of course design has always been personal preference, the Gold options always look tacky, but we have to admit they’ve never looked better on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (although Silver and Space Grey still look miles better), so will be interesting to see how they look over time.

TOUCH ID

It sounds crazy, but it’s true, once you use something new with one device, you want it on everything else, and that’s completely true about Touch ID. Touch ID almost makes more sense on the iPad as it ever did on the iPhone (since 5S), and of course the features, functionality and general convenience remains with the new iPad Air 2. The same iOS 8 software SDKs for Touch ID will also work on the new iPad Air as well.

A8X

A8X

Like it ever needed it, but here it is. The new iPad Air 2 features an all new A8X processor, which not only retains that same 10 hours of battery life you know and love, something we’re mentioning before the performance stats to keep that in mind, but takes performance specifically in graphics to the next level.

The new iPad Air 2 is 40% faster at CPU tasks than the A7 in the iPad Air, but if you can believe it an increase of Graphics performance that actually doubles … yes doubles! The iPad Air (and Mini with Retina) was already the Gold standard for Graphics performance on mobile devices, but this just takes it to the limit.

Apple of course include the M8 co-processor in with the A8X, the co-processor remains unchanged compared to what’s found in the traditional M8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but that does of course mean Apple have added a Barometer in the iPad to keep up with all the Fitness and Health apps.

CAMERAS

The iSight Camera, as Apple call it, has been vastly improved over the previous iPad Air, featuring all the latest Camera improvements announced in the new iPhone 6, including Panoramas up to 43MP, Time-lapse video, Burst mode, Slo-mo (120fps) as well as full HD video recording.

Whilst it’s yet to be seen whether the Camera in the new iPad Air 2 is that of the iPhone 6, it’s likely the sensor found in the iPhone 5S if we’d to guess, the specs certainly do share similarities with it, regardless of whether it is or not, you’ve an incredible 8 MegaPixel Rear Camera on your iPad I will protest you never use! If you do chose to use it, you’ll be happy to know you now have dual microphones on your iPad for even better audio recording.

On the front side, aside from Burst Selfies and lighting improvements all welcome on front facers, Apple’s FaceTime Camera, as they call it, remains more or less the same.

WIRELESS

It goes without saying, but the new iPad Air takes Wi-Fi features to the next level, offering 802.11AC finally to the iPad line, as well as over 20 LTE bands in the Cellular model.

Interesting, something not mentioned at the Event, users will be able to sign up for exclusive iPad plans within the iPad Settings, unfortunately this is only available on EE of us UK citizens, and AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in the US, but a step in the right direction.

Availability and Price

One thing we were expecting Apple to do, which it’s awesome that they have, is change the pricing strategy of the new iPad line, making 64GB and 128GB much easier and less expensive to get, so let’s look at those prices shall we;

16GB – £399

64GB – £479

128GB – £559

*Extra £100 to all those prices for LTE/Cellular variants.

Summary

Overall, we’re impressed with the new iPad Air 2. Whilst the update is of course incremental in many ways, it does keep the iPad up to scratch, and catches it up in terms of design and functionality with the rest of Apple’s portfolio, and we keep let’s it keep that crown of being one of the best tablets you can buy today.

Should you get rid of your current iPad Air, no. But, if you are running an iPad 4 or earlier, or wanting something bigger than that iPad mini you have lying around, the new iPad Air 2 will definitely more than fill that gap, also dare I see for people switching from an Android tablet … or like us, stressing over the bugs in Windows 8.1.

iPad Mini 3 … kinda

iPad Mini 3

One announcement you’d probably have missed if you blinked was the iPad Mini 3. Now, I know what you’re thinking, surely this would be an announcement that Apple would be shouting and touting even more than the iPad Air 2 right? Well, turns out there’s a reason why they weren’t, and we’re slightly disappointed about that.

As we mentioned with the iPad Air 2, and we might as well keep the trend going, the best way to look at the iPad Mini 3 is the way it compares with it’s predecessor, the iPad Mini 2 (previously known as ‘iPad mini with Retina Display’), and it’s when we do this you’ll see why it was kept rather quiet.

YES, IT COMES IN GOLD

Yes, if you want to get your Gold on with a smaller sized tablet, Apple have delivered that with the new iPad Mini 3. We stick to what we said about the iPad Air 2, but if you like it, who are we to turn you away.

TOUCH ID

Yes, if you want the unparalleled convenience of Touch ID on your iPad Mini 3, the same exact functionality that’s just debuted in the iPad Air 2 is right here on the new iPad Mini. Plus, as Apple mentioned about the iPad Air 2, all applications that are already taking advantage of Touch ID for the iPhone 6, will of course be updated and work on the iPad Mini 3.

…WAIT, THAT’S IT??…

Yep, that’s it. Touch ID and available in Gold, is literally the only thing changed over the previous iPad Mini. If you’re wondering, yes, the same old Apple A7 and M7 under the hood, the same 5MP Camera, the same iPad Mini with Retina Display is right inside the iPad Mini 3, which is such a massive shame.

We were one of those patiently waiting on a new iPad Mini and now we sort of wish they hadn’t bothered. Would have made more sense to simply brand it, the iPad Mini with Touch ID, least that way it would feel like what it is.

Availability and Price

If Touch ID and Gold option is the only thing missing from the iPad Mini 2 / with Retina Display, then the same size configurations will be available for the iPad Mini 3 as the iPad Air 2, but at these lower price points;

16GB – £319

64GB – £399

128GB – £479

*Add £100 to all those prices for LTE variants.

Summary

OK, we’ll give this device some credit, it’s not terrible, and it does allow to purchase easily the cheapest 64GB, especially 128GB, iPad ever, I mean not even £500 for a top storage iPad, I’m in. And we’re not saying the A7 won’t last you a good while, but Apple spoiled us last year, and it’s that level of spoiling we were hoping for with the new update.

But it does make this question even easier to answer, if you can an iPad Mini with Retina Display (iPad Mini 2), is it worth upgrading to the new iPad Mini? Hell no, and this is to the level where it actually won’t be an upgrade. But, if you have the original iPad Mini, or an iPad 4 or earlier and want something a bit more compact, the iPad Mini 3 remains that big step forward for those devices.

The new iPad portfolio

iPads in 2014

One thing we do think is a good idea Apple are doing with their iPad line, is retaining their last year devices, and in the iPad mini case even the year before device. Whilst this may seem like a lazy method for Apple to do, and let’s be honest it kind of is, it does allow Apple to offer a much more variety of price points, in fact you can now get an iPad brand new from Apple for just £199 now! Even the iPad Mini 2, which we’ve just covered has more or less everything the new one has starts at £239!

  • iPad mini (A5 model) = Starts at £199 (16GB)
  • iPad mini 2 (A7) = Starts at £239 (16GB) or £279 (32GB)
  • iPad mini 3 (new with Touch ID) = Starts at £319 (16GB) or £399 (64GB) or £479 (128GB)
  • iPad Air (A7) = Starts at £319 (16GB) or £359 (32GB)
  • iPad Air 2 (new A8X Touch ID) = Starts at £399 (16GB) or £479 (64GB) or £559 (128GB)

Mac

When Apple announced this event title as ‘It’s been way too long’, the one category we were waiting for was of course the Mac. Not that Apple hasn’t updated Macs recently, but let’s be honest a few were gaining dust, and we think they’ve definitely given their line up a clean up, so let’s get to those right now, starting with the big and ending with the small!

Retina 5K iMac

Retina 5K iMac

On the face of it, it’s the same iMac design we’ve had for quite some time now, sure the thinness has got a bit thinner, but it’s when you turn the thing on you’ll realise what you’re rocking here!

This iMac, as the name would suggest (no tension available in this one), has a Retina Display like no other, topping way back 1080p, way past the 2K 2560 x 1440 of it’s regular brother, and even past 4K, this iMac packs a 5120 x 2880 5K display, to add to that, there’s a Computer in there!

Now, Apple aren’t the first (just) to do a 5K monitor, we recently covered Dell’s 5K Monitor over a Computex, but the iMac just takes it to that next level. Whilst we’re a fan of Dell’s Monitors, Apple’s recent Retina Displays on their Notebooks just top Dells display clarity, and we can’t wait to see just how incredibly sharp this 5K display is on it’s 27 inch panel!

Thanks to the massive resolution, you can actually edit 4K content natively pixel by pixel, and still have space for an interface to edit high end videography! But, of course, it’s not all Display, Apple are of course packing a punch in performance too offering up to 4GHz Core i7 Quad Core power, 3.5 Teraflops of Graphics and 20Gbps through those Thunderbolt 2 ports.

But, as with everything at Apple, it comes at a price, but surprisingly a rather fair one considering how much Dell’s offering was, and that this has a Computer inside it. For full pricing breakdown of Apple’s new iMac, we recommend visiting the Apple website. However, the new iMac with a 5K Retina Display starts at a pretty reasonable £1999!

Summary

So, there you have it, definitely the headline Mac announcement of the day, some could argue the headline announcement full stop. We must mention that Apple will, similar to what they did with the MacBook line, keep the regular iMac line around alongside the new Retina iMac. Unfortunately no spec bumps or anything to the regular iMac line, but we’re definitely happy with how impressive this Mac can potentially be for customers moving forward. 21.5inch Retina next Apple?

Mac Mini

Mac Mini

Apple have also updated it’s most affordable Mac ever, the Mac Mini. The Mac Mini stands true as the perfect Mac for a PC desktop switcher, simply purchase this tiny set-top-box sized Computer, plug all your PC peripherals and just go, and now that’s not only less expensive to do, but you also get much more goodies for your money.

One thing we will note, before we go ‘oh thanks for lowering the price Apple’, for us UK customers the price is basically returning to where it was before the last update, once again UK tax and all that jazz means we lose out on that score, but having a lower price is never something to be sniffed about either way.

The update to the Mac Mini introduces the 4th generation Intel Core processors to the tablet, more default RAM, Fusion Drive to the top level Mac Mini, as well as Intels Iris Graphics, and of course running OS X Yosemite.

For the full break down on prices and specifications for the new Mac Mini, you can customise your own at Apple’s website, starting at a very attractive £399, but as always check out some config options before you start getting satisfied with the low configurations.

And that’s a wrap

Tim Cook

Overall a pretty mixed bag from Apple here. Whilst we love the new iPad Air 2, welcome the Mac Mini update, think the new Retina 5K iMac is insane, and also can’t wait to get OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1 out in our hands, we were left rather disappointed with the iPad Mini 3, but guess you can’t have everything.

One thing we didn’t see from Apple’s Event today we were hoping for was any iPod touch love, but considering it’s last update was a quiet one, we expect that will be the case moving forward. Also, no new Apple TV love, which would have been perfect after Google announced the Nexus Player yesterday, but no TV love either from the event.

Did you see everything you wanted from the Apple Event today? Let us know below, but until the next Event, our fingers can finally rest.

 

2 thoughts on “Apple October Event 2014: iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3, Retina 5K iMac, Mac Mini, OS X Yosemite and iOS 8!

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