So there I was, 3am in the morning, waiting for the latest Apple event to be streamed live into my lounge room. I was moulded into our couch wearing a dressing gown, slippers and, so as not to wake the saner members of the household, wireless headphones. I had a mug of coco in one hand, my Apple TV (soon to be replaced) remote in the other and a blanket over my knees. A more adorable and thoroughly un-Bond like sight is, I think, impossible to imagine.
When it was all over my coco was drained, my blanket was up around my chin, impossibly cheerful birds were starting to yell in the dawn – ensuring that going back to bed was out of the question – and I was left wondering 4 things.
- How am I going to wait a full week before I can upgrade my Apple Watch when I already feel like I might burst with anticipatory glee?
- How much will I get for my current Apple TV on eBay?
- Who do I know who wants a second hand iPhone 6 and;
- Who the hell is going to buy a 13 inch iPad?
There is no secret that from the start I felt that the Apple Watch was the best in its breed for all round function and form but, as with all things version 1, there was room for improvement. How was I, or anyone outside of Tim Cook’s office for that matter, to know that these improvements would be a matter of weeks away?
These updates had already been announced but this event went further to show us salivating Watch owners just what was possible and what was coming. New watch faces and new Apple bands sure, but it was the watches ever increasing autonomy – that is to say its independence from the phone – that really made us wiggle.
In addition, 3rd party developers now have more access to the watch and its hardware so great new and previously unimagined functions were now being crammed inside this little (in my case) 42mm shell. Night Stand mode, Time Travel and new watch faces that display time lapse scenes of famous cities or pictures from your own photo album, to name but a few.
One such demonstration had a doctor checking in on patients current vitals while doing rounds in the hospital or playing golf – as the stereo typical doctor is often accused.
If you think the Apple Watch is worthwhile now, you are going to be very happy indeed when it starts to morph into something even better with a simple software update.
Apple have also added gold to the Sports edition – although there is no way you could pass it off as a real Gold watch (so buyers of the Apple Watch Edition needn’t feel slighted) – and they have partnered with Hermes to offer some really elegant bands and accompanying watch faces.
It was a promising product when it was released and it has started to deliver on that promise already with no additional outlay from me. This, and the fact that the activity monitor has motivated me to remove a layer of fat from around my kidneys, lying there like the blanket of death it was undoubtedly becoming, means it was- and continues to be with every update- the best damn $500 I ever spent.
Anyway, I have babbled about the Apple Watch enough, surely!? So now lets look at something that has over the years become the epicentre of my lounge room entertainment – The Apple TV. When this was first launched Steve Jobs called it a “hobby” and its always sort of, kind of, remained in that box ever since. But the updates and tweaks have continued to roll out and with every update there have been features added, interface enhancements and speed. This initially little white – now black – set top box has sat under our TV quietly making good use of a faster internet (well in some places at least) and services like Netflix and Stan keep giving us more choice. In a single evening we can watch a movie or TV episode, watch Youtube, listen to the radio, look at our Photos or stream our own music and all the while I am wondering why I am still bothering to pay for Foxtel?
The new Apple TV may look very similar but the whole focus has changed and so has the way you interact with it. For starters you can now use your voice to ask for movies, TV and other service. With Siri built in you can simply ask your TV to “find me the latest Action Films”. This request might see you offer everything from James Bond to Zardox but you can go further and say ”just the Bond films” and then “Just the ones starring Daniel Craig”
The other great thing is that once you have made your choice, for example, SkyFall, Apple TV will show you all the services that movie is available. So if it can be watched on Netflix, iTunes and Hulu, they will all be listed and you can choose which service to use.
I said earlier that the Apple TV was our entertainment hub of choice but now it can offer all kinds of other Apps from its very own App store. During the presentation I was shown a shopping app that someone buying clothes but in due course I can see Crust, Dominos and Pizza Hut putting apps up there so you can order your Friday night dinner as well.
But the App store has games as well so if the movie sucks you can always stop it and play Angry Birds on your 65 inch screen.
Obviously a presentation of this size would be meaningless without the fully anticipated iPhone. Every second year Apple have announced an “S” version of the phone they released the year before. This S breed has always looked the same, always had a better camera and the expected performance enhancements. But these models have generally been overlooked by all but those who couldn’t afford to get one the year before, or those that froth at the mouth about such things as a new phone every year – regardless. I, I must confess, am not one of the latter but most assuredly one of the former. Generally a better camera or a faster processor does little to excite me, instead it is the software can do for me that has me all aflutter. This year, however, is different because this “S” model has plenty to scream about from. Things such as 3D touch, a better Siri, 4K video, better Touch ID and the ability to take photos that seem to come to life (see Harry Potter if you cannot imagine it) and, if our stuffy banks can ever get off their tweedy arses, Apple Pay, which, incidentally, would mean you could pay for your groceries with your Watch. But what the hey… lets stay in the 1980s shall we!?
The iPhone 6 is one of the best iPhones ever made. It’s a perfect size (don’t get me started on the 6 Plus or I fear I will jabber on for another few pages) and is a very pleasing thing to hold. To think that this perfect storm of metal and glass has now been given more hardware that allows even better software and features is very welcome news. The kind of news in fact that will have me on the line to my telco provider faster than…well if you’ll excuse me…there… ordered.
At these events an iPad upgrade has often been expected right along side the obligatory iPhone, and this event was no different. Well at least it was no different in so much as there was an update but it was very different when we actually saw what was updated.
The iPad Pro is, at 13 inches, the largest iPad ever made, it’s also the fastest iPad ever made and it has technology rammed into every mm of its surprisingly thin and light frame.
As an accessory you can purchase the new Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, the first Apple Stylus. The thrust of the iPad Pro is definitely productivity with Microsoft themselves demonstrating how well Office works and Adobe creating a advertising campaign in a matter of minutes. I cannot see the iPad Pro being the tablet choice of students or mums or Dads – the current demographic that love their iPads – but for a business, a graphic artist or a school… I cannot think of why they wouldn’t go for this.
Earlier I mentioned the keyboard and I am sure thats not surprising but the stylus… that might shock a few. Steve was famous for claiming that the iPhone (or iPad) didn’t need a stylus because we were all born with 10 of them. But while that might have been true – and still is – the iPad Pro is focusing on people who want to draw very very fine lines and shades, things that a finger just cannot do… as the iPad has evolved so does its input devices. That said the finger is still the first choice for navigation but now, if a contour line on a map or the eyelash of a butterfly is required there is the Apple Pencil to get it done.
So, where too from here? The new Phones go on sale on the 25th September but considering China’s insatiable appetite for the iPhone 6 and the enormous numbers of units ordered in anticipation they will be undoubtable be in short supply in Australia. So you’d better get your order in sharpish.
If you’ve ever thought a smart watch might help motivate you to exercise and perhaps streamline your communication habits, now is a good time to consider the watch.
The iPad Pro.. well I’d go in and play with one but remember even if its not for you, there are new iPad Mini 4s as well. And, who knows, the awesome new features in the iPad Pro could very well find themselves in the next generation of iPad Air?