Apple “Hey Siri” September Event 2015

Apple September 2015

“Hey Siri” was the event teaser, which ironically linked to a product which probably won’t be the one most remembered by Apple at this September event. Apple did make some very interesting announcements however in iPhone, iPad as well as TV of all things, but nothing in relation to the Mac which was a bit of a shame but we guess that 4K 21 inch iMac will have to wait a little longer.

As always with an Apple Event, it’s almost a craving that some stat has to come from them, whether in relation to a product or generally regarding the companies current place in the industry, whilst their was so much to announce their wasn’t time for a status report, they still provided quite a few which we’ve got for you here as we get to them.

Apple Watch

New Apple Watch materials

First up to discuss, with a seemingly very nervous Jeff Williams, was Apple Watch. Whilst Apple didn’t announce a new Apple Watch, they did announce a collection of changes to the current gen, including some new shades of aluminium for the Apple Watch Sport variants totally now with 4, anodised aluminium, rose gold as well as the older silver aluminium and darkened aluminium.

Apple Watch Hermes

We don’t know why and think they look awful, but if you’ve over $1500+ to spend on an Apple Watch and want more preference to do so, another Watch addition was Hermes. Apple are not only introducing a wide array of Hermes bands, but a unique Watch face which will match the Watch. Whilst we’re not personally a fan of either, more options are of course vital to a device such as the Apple Watch which is so design conscious.

Apple Watch 2015 new Sports bands

Apple also announced that alongside the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel) they will be selling a Product RED Sports band, which when purchased with the specific Apple Watch, or without, proceedings will go towards fighting aids in Africa, something Apple has had most commonly in iPhone accessories as well as iPod and iPad, nice to see that finally come to the Watch. This is on top of a collection of new Sport band colours announced as well.

Apple also covered the upcoming watchOS 2 features including Transit to Maps, Time-travel with the digital crown as well as third party Watch “complications”. One thing Apple hadn’t shown much of until now however was apps in action taking advantage of the Apple Watch hardware with the software supporting them which was shown off mainly with further Health based applications.

Apple also announced two new applications coming to Apple Watch being Facebook Messenger, Go Pro and iTranslate. Both apps, like any in watchOS 2 will be able to take full advantage of the hardware of the Apple Watch to provide a full experience when in use. Another application announced focusing on the Health based application list was AirStrip, which allows a Doctor have all their immediate information on patients and more safely and securely and in a very unique way, providing live an up to date information.

All Apple Watch bands are shipping now, with September 16th the date for watchOS 2.

iPad Pro

Next up was iPad, including the biggest news in iPad since iPad in a very literal form and also one which we’re really unsure of, this of course is the iPad Pro.

iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is a 12.9 inch (2732 x 2048) behemoth which from what we’ve seen so far is a massive to hold, and very likely an awkward one too. When we first heard talk of a possible 12 iPad we were never sold on it for this reason, practicality, it has none. The device looks stupid, don’t even get us started on the fact that it’s still 4 icons portrait and 5 landscape on a 12 inch display, showing off more than ever that the Tablet iOS interface needs a redesign more than ever, and we don’t mean in UI, we mean in UX.

The iPad Pro does make a few interesting changes which are very welcome, one being a new speaker system. The iPad Pro has 4 speakers at each edge which are orientation aligned so if you rotate your iPad whilst audio is playing it will shift so you always get a correct L+R audio playback. Apple claim the speakers are twice as loud as the iPad Air 2 and from the impressions we’ve being getting sound pretty incredible. The iPad Pro will join a list of iPads before it by also delivering a 10 hour battery life expectancy.

App wise the iPad Pro does make sense, you’ve a collection of applications and things you can do on touchscreen devices that are benefited by a larger size, especially when you add the accessory support which we’ll get to soon. Apple showed off a collection of applications, mainly productivity applications including Garageband which looks incredible (although we’re already big fans), as well as demoed of a collection of Photoshop tools (Adobe Comp, Photoshop Fix and Photoshop Sketch, another app called Mix was noticed but not demoed) coming from Adobe as well as updated versions of Microsoft Office which was also demoed running on the iPad Pro. Of course Microsoft Office is available on iOS and Android, Adobe said their tools would be available on “the iPad soon”, so we’ll have to see if they’re iPad Pro exclusive or not.

PEN…sorry, PENCIL INPUT

But Photoshop, as well as other drawing apps wouldn’t be complete without a Stylus or Pen input, but Apple doesn’t want a Stylus or Pen, they’d rather have a Pencil it would seem by announcing the Apple Pencil … yes, that’s the name of it. The Pencil is surprisingly tall, and is Battery powered meaning Apple are using technology similar to N trig. To power the Pencil, you simple charge by putting the Pencil in to any Lightning device, which whilst odd should be good if it charges quickly. We won’t even get to why the Pencil is $99, but it is, but to be fair the Surface pen was $79 until it went down in price so it’s not too far off Surface fans, but granted the Surface (Pros at least) comes with the Pen.

One thing the Apple Pencil does have over other Pens such as the Surface one is the ability to support for a sidewards tip feature, meaning that you can write or draw with different thickness or strokes by drawing at a certain angle, which is naturally going to be really useful for drawing professionals.

One feature which was shown off during Microsoft and Adobe’s applications demoed with the use of the Apple Pencil by not just using it for drawing, but using it for shape recognition, which is actually really useful for productivity by speeding up the work you need to do by Software basically saving you the time and effort of running through selective menus.

PERFORMANCE

If it’s not the in app, and app experience led by iOS 9 ability to multitask with side by side applications, it’s the performance that will lead the race as the iPad Pros most interesting feature. Whilst Apple didn’t announce any changes to the Air, the iPad Pro was announced to be running on an A9X Processor which amongst many other things, is expected to be insanely faster than an already industry leading processor (the A8X before it). The iPad Pro is also said to have not only twice as fast storage speeds, but twice the memory bandwidth, and based on recent speculation it’s expected that could be due to a double in RAM, going from 2 to 4GB, which would make sense based on the graphical and performance memory usage from that larger resolution display. So it’s definitely gonna be fast.

Apple continued going on about how the iPad had desktop performance, to be fair they’ve been saying that for some time now, Samsung have said that about their Exynos chips and Qualcomm have said that about many Snapdragons, whilst benchmarks show they are on that barrier, it’s still a rather redundant thing to say about something until there’s something more surrounding the claim.

KEYBOARD ACCESSORY, THE SMART KEYBOARD

Smart Keyboard

Alongside the iPad, like with all other iPads, Apple announced some Smart accessories, the typical ones being the Smart Covers which can either cover just back and front, or just the front when not in use depending on which you pick, but an addition to the Smart accessories was the Smart Keyboard.

The Smart Keyboard is the first time Apple has introduced a Keyboard accessory for the iPad since the original iPad, but we can stop right there as this is definitely not an improvement, in fact this is one area we’re really disappointed with. The keyboard looks and acts terribly, it’s not stable and the keyboard travel is none existent, you’d probably be better saving up the insane $169 asking price and using the onscreen keyboard (or a custom one, this is iOS). The keyboard connects using a new port on the iPad Pro simply called the Smart connector, a three circular magnetic latch which Apple say will be used for a ‘range’ of accessories going forward, but for now just this Keyboard from Apple.

If you are wanting a different Keyboard than Apple’s for the iPad Pro however, Lenovo announced what honestly we think is a much better keyboard for the iPad Pro which is worth checking out, it too connects magnetically using the new Smart connector port but instead has plastic chiclet keys reminiscent of Apples notebooks and looks a hell lot better. But, if neither convince you the iPad does have Bluetooth and like all other iOS devices a standard Bluetooth keyboard will also work.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

The iPad Pro is a very awkward device on paper, but I do believe that like the first generation iPad will grow on to be a very useful device, however for a very select market of people, but, it will come at a cost which will likely be it’s biggest annoyance going forward.

At the moment we only have US prices announced, but UK pricing will be coming shortly, but the iPad Pro starts at $799 with configurations reaching $1,059, you can get a MacBook Pro for that price, or nearly a MacBook Air for the base price so it’s definitely expensive it has to be said, add that to the fact that base model is just 32GB it does seem rather hard to swallow, but least it’s not 16GB right.

iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4

Whilst aesthetically and externally no different, but will be priced £10 cheaper than it’s predecessor, Apple did quietly announce the successor the iPad mini 3 being (logically named) the iPad mini 4. The iPad mini 4 continues where the iPad mini 3 left off by adding Touch ID and gold to the mini 2, however the mini 4 finishes everything off by also including the Apple A8 processor, not the A8X from the Air 2, as well as M8 motion co-processor, pushing the iPad mini 4 as a much more powerful iPad mini than before.

Apple TV

Apple TV

Whilst admittedly an area in Apple’s product catalogue we’re less interested in, Apple have also made some big changes to Apple TV, though it has to be said some very welcome changes which we thinks gonna help TV going forward, but probably not revolutionise. “The future of TV is apps” says Tim Cook, and he’s got a point. The majority of TV, as it were, that we watch as a nation is actually online through mobile devices and computers, the traditional art of watching TV is seeping away and it’s very easy to see why.

TV hasn’t changed but the world around it most definitely has, so by implementing an App Store in to Apple TV as well as a well needed facelift and other changes, is really going to change the way the Apple TV is used and likely accepted. At the moment the Apple TV is just another streaming box with a definite US market target, but with an App Store the skies the limit, broadcasters can simply post their application and users can get it meaning there’s no excuse for the channels not to be there.

The Apple TV will also however be able to play Games, and we’re not talking about Airplay from an iOS or Mac device, we’re talking from the Apple TV itself. The Apple TV has an A8 processor, up from an A5 if you can believe it, which is more than enough to power your favourite content at 1080p and Games created for the App Store to run in full glory at 60fps. A couple of Games were demoed, but it’s clear to say it’s early days until we see the full potential lifted, as is the case with Game consoles, so time will tell how this will go.

REMOTE

Probably the biggest feature of the Apple TV is actually not the device itself, or the new UI though it definitely works in conjunction, it’s actually the Remote. The new Remote for the Apple TV not only has buttons, but it has a trackpad for quick and easy navigation, an accelerometer and gyro for greater interactivity as well as a microphone for Siri which takes searching to a whole new level, Gaming to a new level and so much more.

The Siri functionality built in to the TV is set to be seen, but the implementation is looking incredible so far, to the point at which you can search for “Bond films”, get the results then say “just the ones with Sean Connery” and it will instantly find those results. If you’re currently playing content at the moment, Siri results will quietly reveal the results at the bottom of the content currently playing. One of our favourite features is “what did he/she just say”, where the device will rewind 10 seconds, temporarily enable captions until it reaches when you asked the question so you’ll know what was said, things like that are going to be incredible for watching content.

SUMMARY

Apple TV is of course yet to prove itself, but it’s sure looking interesting at the moment, this is of course on top of the already current Apple TV content. You’ve unlimited music from Apple TV, console title Games and additional applications or TV content from the App Store. The new Apple TV will go on sale shortly starting at $149 or $199 based on configuration. Developers can create apps for the App Store and it’s going to be interesting to see what they can do with the new Apple TV running on what Apple are branding tvOS. We’ll be looking more in to the Apple TV once it’s released.

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

iPhone 6S

Finally, the last thing to be announced was the announcement the majority of the audience turned up to find out about, the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. As expected with an S series iPhone, the iPhone 6S devices look the same as the iPhone 6 devices they will replace with the slight exception of a Rose Gold option.

The slogan for the new iPhone 6S devices is “the only thing that’s changed is everything”, whilst we wouldn’t go that far, there’s definitely some very interesting new features coming with the new iPhone 6S which we’re going to look at now;

MATERIALS

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have being strengthened heavily with 6,000 Series Aluminium, with new stronger Glass material which Apple have been working with Corning to perfect.

3D TOUCH

Probably the biggest feature coming with the 6S devices, which explains why the display was so important to get right is a feature Apple are branding 3D Touch, or as we call it Force Touch gen 2. The best way to describe 3D touch in a sentence, it’s a right click for a mobile device. Just like Force Touch you’ve to physically push in to the display to either peak for more additional content or access even more than before. The device gives tactile feedback based on which you go for, so you know what you’re doing is going through.

3D Touch is built in to iOS and will be available across the board. From the Home screen, you can Force Touch an app icon and get additional options that could even include in-app option shortcuts and more, whilst your in an app like Mail you can Force Touch on a Message to preview it, then interact, the possibilities really are endless and it’s going to be very interesting to see how developers interact with it. 3D Touch also allows Quicklook-like information, such as within Messages on Safari links, Flight codes and more, you’ll get the information from applications without the need to option them. You can also use 3D Touch for multitasking by Force Touching the edge to view the last used app and less so to get straight in to Multitasking view.

PERFORMANCE

Like any S device, it does stand for speed afterall, the new iPhone 6S devices will be powered by a new A9 processor, supported by the M9 co-processor which itself is now always on meaning you can “Hey Siri” your iPhone whenever just like with an Apple Watch. The A9 Processor is expected to be 70% faster at typical CPU tasks and over 90% GPU so it goes without saying, based on the fact A8 on the iPhone 6 is still outperforming Octa Core Smartphones, it goes without saying that this is going to take that even more off the charts.

TOUCH ID

Apple say they’ve made big improvements to TouchID again, which is ironic as we’ve had no issues ourselves with it on the iPhone 6. But the sensor can now recognise Fingers twice the typical rate and is much more accurate so should you have been having issues before, those should now be cleared up.

CAMERA

It’s taken Apple 4 iPhones to change the Camera resolution on the iPhone 6, but now is the time it would seem as the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus go from 8 to 12MP on the Rear Camera. Whilst Apple have changed and increased the resolution of the Camera, they haven’t changed the size of the sensor which may seem like an opportunity for grainy photos but we’ll have to see whether techniques such as deep trench isolation helps with keeping that consistent Photo quality we’ve all come used to since the iPhone 4 which has just got better and better.

Due to the greater resolution of the 12MP Camera, Panoramas can take up to 63MP images and finally coming to an iPhone thanks to the resolution allowing it, 4K Video Recording.

One interesting thing Apple have done with the Front Camera, which is 5MP, instead of doing what some manufacturers such as Oppo have done by adding an additional Flash at the front, instead Apple have decided to use the Display as a Flash brightening up to 3x as much to create a Flash which is customised based on surrounding using a Custom chip to allocate the brightening and colour off the Flash.

LIVE PHOTOS

Another feature of the Camera coming with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (though why not in other iPhones is beyond us) is a feature called Live Photos. The iPhone will take a picture as well as a clip of the time you took the picture which you can view using 3D Touch by force touching the picture, or if it’s a wallpaper forcing touching the wallpaper to play the moment you took the picture. Sure, this is something we’ve been using on Windows Phone thanks to Nokia’s Living Images within their Cinemagraph functionality, but sometimes it’s implementation and the integration in to the OS that makes this one a winner overall. Live Photos can also play sound which the Living Images don’t.

One really useful addition is you’ll also be able to use the Live Photos as a Wallpaper on your Apple Watch meaning you can have moving watch faces, this will be the same on the iPhone as you’ll be able to set them as a ‘Dynamic’ wallpaper alongside a collection of new Dynamic wallpapers available on iPhone and Watch as well.

Live Photos will be available as a Software API so applications through the App Store will also be able to view Live Photos uploaded to services like Facebook and more, again, the implementation and not being first.

SWITCH TO IPHONE APP ON ANDROID

Rather cheekily, but to be fair Windows Phone had one first, Apple have added a Switch to iPhone app in to Google Play allowing customers to put their information to the app to iCloud through the application and then transfer everything seamlessly to the iPhone and go from there. The app will be available following iOS 9 release September 16th.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY

Alongside supporting a much wider LTE band list with a massive 23 LTE bands supported, faster 866Mhz WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will be available to order September 12th for pre-order and out September 00th. However, with Live Photos and 4K Video Recording it seems almost laughable that the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will have a starting size configuration of 16GB but sadly they still do, as well as the usual 64 and 128 configurations following that for the same pricing you’ve being used to.

Apple iPhone Upgrade Program was something announced by Apple as well. It’s a monthly way to pay for an iPhone going on, however you pay for an iPhone, from $32 a month (likely the 6S 16GB) which pays for an unlocked iPhone including Apple Care +, then when a new iPhone comes out, you keep going by swapping for the new one. Interesting move we have to say, will be nice to see it across the pond over time.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will remain on sale at base and secondary size configurations for a lower price with the 5S now being the lowest end iPhone on sale, so we’ve both no new 5C or the 5C itself on sale now from Apple.

New accessories, covers and material coded docks will also be available for iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, but of course the current Dock will still work, in fact the Silver one is the same Dock.

New iCloud Pricing

Apple did announce they’d reduced the pricing of iCloud, however that didn’t include increasing the middling 5GB free size sadly, but the prices are now much more reasonable, per month prices are;

  • 5GB – Free
  • 50GB – 79p
  • 200GB – £2.99
  • 500GB – £6.99
  • 1TB – £14.99

Summary

And there you have it, whilst not the best Apple Event we’ve had it certainly delivered a few surprises to us, and we can’t really say Apple haven’t announced a collection of decent products, whilst we would at least for now take the iPad Pro out of that equation we also feel its a device that’s yet to prove itself which we’ll see going forward. The iPhone 6S is everything we’ve come to expect from the S model and more thanks to 3D touch which we’re actually really excited for, and it has to be said we’re even interested in the Apple TV for the first time in, well, since it ever got announced.

But, what did you think of the Apple Event, pop us a comment below and let us know

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