Apple solidifies Watch release date & pricing, unveils HBO standalone streaming service, HealthKit, plus a shiny new MacBook
On Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook hosted the company’s latest keynote dubbed “Spring Forward” and it packed quite a punch. Everyone was expecting more details about the anticipated Apple Watch–release date and pricing was finally made known–but before getting to all that, Cook announced an exciting launch with HBO, he introduced a forward-thinking platform called HealthKit that aims to support the medical field in new and exciting ways, and a brand new MacBook packed with all kinds of cool technology made its debut. For all the details, skip after the break. (Click here for more…)
Another iPad is about to be released into the wild that is the general public. Tomorrow, on Friday March 16, “the new iPad” will go on sale at Apple’s retail stores starting precisely at 8AM local time in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Want to avoid the mass hysteria that will likely ensue at the company’s retail bases? Apple confirms that US customers can also venture to Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart to pick up their “resolutionary” tablet. Don’t forget the new iPad starts at $499 for the 16GB WiFi model and climbs all the way up to $829 for the 64GB 4G + WiFi version; so don’t forget your fat wallet on your way out. Consequently, the iPad 2 drops to $399 and is only offered in the 16GB variant; $529 for the WiFi + 3G model. And don’t forget; also out tomorrow is the new, 1080p-capable Apple TV ($99) featuring a streamlined UI. The hockey puck and the slate, they were made for each other.
On Wednesday Apple announced the next generation iPad. No, it is not called the iPad 3 or the iPad HD; it’s simply the new iPad. In addition to updating what Apple CEO Tim Cook calls “the poster child of the post-PC world,” the March 7 keynote also introduced enhancements to iOS, iCloud, Apple TV, and the mobile versions of iWork and iLife. First let’s focus on the most talked about news at hand, the new iPad; then jump after the break to read about everything else.
First and foremost, the new iPad features Apple’s Retina Display technology. They’ve managed to pack four times more pixels into the new iPad’s 9.7 inch multitouch screen than the tablet’s predecessor. The new iPad sports an impressive 2048 x 1536 resolution with a 3.1 million total pixel count (264 pixels per inch) and 44% greater color saturation over the iPad 2. This means that the new iPad contains more pixels than your average HDTV (1920 x 1080)! Packing all of these pixels in a relatively small space means: razor-sharp text, richer colors, and when viewed at a normal distance iPad owners will not be able to discern individual pixels and this makes for a better overall user experience.
Powering the new iPad is the Apple A5X high-performance low-power system-on-a-chip. It serves as a dual-core processor with quad-core graphics. The new chip will help the iPad run faster and support the millions of pixels glaring out of the Retina Display. It will also manage the tablet’s equally impressive battery life. The new iPad boasts the same longevity as the iPad 2: 10 hours of use on WiFi and 9 hours on a cellular network.
The camera on the backside of the iPad has been upgraded to iSight Camera status. It’s a five-megapixel shooter and full HD 1080p video recorder. The camera features backside illumination, f/2.4 aperture, a 5-element lens, a hybrid IR filter, an Apple-designed ISP (Image Signal Processor) that allows for auto exposure, auto-focus, auto face detection, auto exposure lock and auto focus lock, and auto white balance. In video recording mode, you’ll notice video stabilization and temporal noise reduction. On the front you’ll still find a FaceTime camera that takes VGA-quality stills and also shoots video at up to 30 frames per second.
Although Siri has yet to make her way to the iPad, Apple has included a piece of the personal assistant in the new slate. The virtual keyboard now features a new Voice Dictation key (it’s a microphone icon) that translates what you say into the text you want to type. Dictation supports English and other languages like British, French, German, Japanese, and Australian. It’s also compatible with third-party apps meaning you can dictate your Tweets or Facebook status updates if you like.
With the new iPad, Apple has embraced 4G LTE data speeds. Again they are working with AT&T and Verizon to bring these ultrafast speeds to consumers in the US. The new iPad features the most wireless bands ever shipped in a device; check them out: the AT&T model includes 4G LTE (700, 2100 MHz), UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); and the Verizon model includes 4G LTE (700 MHz), CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). Rate plans can be viewed here. Elsewhere Apple is collaborating with Bell, Rogers, and Telus to bring these speeds to other countries around the world. Additionally, the new iPad can act as a personal hotspot to share its data speeds with up to five devices over WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB. And speaking of which, the new iPad also packs Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0 technology.
At 9.4mm thin and 1.4 pounds, the new iPad will come in black and white variants and maintain the same capacity and pricing scheme as its predecessor. It’ll start at $499 for the 16GB WiFi-only model and will reach up to $829 for the 32GB WiFi + 4G model. The iPad 2 will remain on the market at one Benjamin cheaper; it will only sell in the 16GB capacity at $399 for the WiFi-only model and $529 for the WiFi + 3G model. The new iPad will release on March 16 in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. One week later it will come out in 25 more countries making the new iPad the fastest product rollout for Apple. It’s available for preorder today at Apple’s website.
Jump after the break for more on iOS, iCloud, Apple TV, and updates to the mobile versions of iWork and iLife. (Click here for more…)
Last week Apple removed the ability to rent TV shows in iTunes. Customers are now left with two options: buy an episode or subscribe to a Season Pass. Why the abrupt change, especially after Apple fought with the networks to drop renting prices to a low 99 cents almost one year ago? According to Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr, “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows. iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.” This sudden change in philosophy may be part of an even grander scheme; according to the WSJ the company may be “working on new technology to deliver video to televisions, and has been discussing whether to try to launch a subscription TV service.” Whatever’s going on, newly appointed CEO Tim Cook will eventually have to lay out the future of iTunes and when that happens everything will be made clear. For now, though, I’m finding it hard to take in this news; when I happened to miss an episode of a show, turning on my Apple TV and renting it for cheap was always my favorite way of catching up. There was never a need to purchase a show (for $2.99) and keep it; why bother? But now that’s the only way to do it.
Today Apple released the latest version of their mobile operating system–that is, iOS 4.3–one day earlier than expected. Just about coinciding with the launch of iPad 2, iOS 4.3 brings with it all kinds of goodies including significantly increased Safari performance, iTunes Home Sharing, AirPlay improvements, iPad side switch behaviors, and personal hotspot functionality for iPhone 4; it’s all detailed right here. Bug fixes and the like are bundled in too; hop after the break to find a rundown of what’s included. iOS 4.3 is a free download for all GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and third and fourth-gen iPod touch owners. Connect your iOS device to a computer, fire up iTunes, and you’ll be notified to download and install the update.
In related Apple news, their hobby puck has also received a welcome system update. ATV owners will now be able to stream baseball and basketball games through the ether straight to their TVs thanks to MLB.tv and a NBA League Pass Broadband support. These services require pay subscriptions. In addition, Netflix has received 5.1 audio support. Cheers to that!
Apple let out a press release yesterday excitedly stating that “it expects sales of its new Apple TV to top one million units later this week.” Apple TV, mind you, only starting shipping three months ago. The cheap price point ($99) and the general consumer shift to streaming content on the big screen are certainly the two major factors contributing to this sales figure. Is the Apple TV still your pet “hobby”, Steve Jobs? Huh! Full PR, that is noticeably missing a quote from Jobs, sits after the break.
If you are a proud owner of an iOS device today is your lucky day. Apple has finally unleashed iOS 4.2, and it brings oh-so-much to the aging iPad and a handful of sweet features to the iPhone and iPod touch. Here’s the laundry list of new features coming to the iPad: multitasking, folders (you can store up to 20 apps inside a folder), Game Center, and updates to Mail (Unified Inbox, fast inbox switching, a threaded message view). In other words, it’s playing catch up with the iPhone and touch. Also bear in mind that the physical toggle switch on the iPad’s side no longer acts as an orientation lock; now it’s a mute switch, just like it is on the iPhone. The lock has been moved to the dock tray that also houses the iPod controls. With the new update, all iOS devices will gain the ability to find and highlight specific words and phrases on web pages in Safari, select new fonts in Notes, beam video and audio with AirPlay, and print wirelessly with AirPrint. Let’s talk about the latter two new features because they are exciting additions. With AirPlay you can stream music, video, and photos wirelessly from your iOS device to Apple TV and AirPlay-enabled speakers. On the video front, you can only stream files you’ve purchased from iTunes (or managed to convert to make playable in iTunes) and from YouTube. If you try to beam video content from Netflix or the ABC app, for example, only the audio will cross over. Bummer, I know. If you want to print wirelessly with AirPrint, you must own a compatible printer; Apple says HP Photosmart, HP LaserJet Pro, and HP Officejet will be the first to support it. iOS 4.2 is compatible with iPad, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second and third generation iPod touch, and the latest iPod touch. You’ll be prompted to update the next time you open iTunes.
Right on cue Apple TV owners received the 4.1 firmware update today, granting them the ability to harness the power of AirPlay. That is, of course, if they also own a compatible iOS device.
Last, the MobileMe Find My iPhone feature no longer requires a MobileMe subscription to access and use. Apple has turned it into an app, and it’s available in the App Store today. In case you forgot, Find My iPhone helps you locate your missing device on a detailed map. You can also have it display a message or play a sound to make finding your missing device easier. And if you are forced to give up the search, you can remotely lock or wipe data from the lost device. The free Find My iPhone feature is available for iPhone 4, iPad or new iPod touch (4th generation).
Look after the break for Apple’s PR.
Today Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage to announce a new lineup of iPods, the next version of iTunes, and a refreshed Apple TV. He also talked about the next two iOS4 software updates. Let’s dive right into it, shall we?
iPod shuffle: The redesigned fourth generation iPod shuffle brings back the clickable front-facing ring buttons (play/pause, previous, next, volume up, volume down) and keeps VoiceOver control (it speaks artist and song name, multiple playlists, and battery status in 25 different languages) and the back clip. It now supports playlists and Genius Mixes. The tiny sqaure casing includes the on/off/play in order/shuffle switch, a VoiceOver button, and a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio and USB charging. The battery holds up to 15 hours of audio playback. The shuffle will be available in 5 different colors (grey, blue, green, orange, and pink). A 2GB model will start shipping in one week for $49.
iPod nano: The redesigned sixth generation iPod nano does away with the click wheel and adds a 1.54 inch (240×240) multitouch display. It adopts the tiny iPod shuffle aesthetic; it’s even got the built-in back clip. It is 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than the previous nano model. To navigate around the iOS-like touch interface, swipe left and right to access different pages of icons, up and down to scroll through lists, double tap to zoom in on photos (there is no pinch-to-zoom), and tap to access other areas. Any time you want to go back to the home screen simply tap and hold anywhere on the screen (there is no home button). You can even rotate the screen using two fingers. You can customize the pages of icons by touching and holding an icon down until it jiggles then dragging it to the desired position. Everything here should be very familiar to iPhone and iPod touch users; it’s all just miniturized. The home screen gives you access to playlists, now playing, artists, and Genius Mixes. Also available is an FM radio, Nike+, a clock, Voice Memo, and access to Photos, Podcasts, Settings, and music categorized by song, album, genre, and composer. The small enclosure includes a sleep/wake switch and volume up and down buttons on top and the 30-pin dock connector and 3.5mm headphone jack on bottom. It also has a built-in accelerometer and supports VoiceOver in 29 different languages. The battery holds up to 24 hours of audio playback. The nano will be available in 7 different colors (grey, blue, green, orange, pink, charcoal, and Product (RED)). 8GB ($149) and 16GB ($179) models will start shipping in one week.
iPod touch: The fourth generation iPod touch gets even closer in design and functionality to its iPhone cousin. The new touch features the same 3.5 inch (960×640) Retina Display, Apple A4 processor, back camera, and front-facing camera, and three-axis gyro sensor as the iPhone 4. The back camera shoots HD (720p, up to 30fps) video that can be edited on the device with simple trimming (included) or with more advanced editing (the $4.99 iMovie app now supports the iPod touch); it can also shoot stills. The front-facing camera can shoot stills and supports FaceTime chats over WiFi with other iPod touches and iPhone 4s. The external buttons and input/output holes remain the same: sleep/wake switch, volume up and volume down, the home button, 30-pin dock connector, 3.5mm headphone jack, build-in speaker and microphone. 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, Nike+, accelerometer, ambient light sensor are still there as well. The battery holds up to 40 hours of audio and 7 hours of video playback. The touch will be available in polished aluminium on black only. 8GB ($229), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399) will start shipping in one week.
iTunes 10, Apple TV, iOS4 after the break :: (Click here for more…)
Let’s do this, bullet-point style.
- New iPods: It is very likely that new iPod touches and nanos will be announced. This is a “music event,” afterall. Both the touch and the nano will have 3.2MP cameras, and the touch will receive a built-in mic. Also, both devices will receive a storage upgrade, possibly to 64GB or higher. Overall design should remain the same. Due to the recent rumor that claims Apple is having technical difficultieswith the camera mechanisms with the iPod touch there is a chance the product release may not be instantaneous with the announcement. Also, the death of the iPod classic may be imminent.
- iTunes 9: Last we heard about iTunes 9 was a BGR source stirring up the rumor mill with these claims: Blu-Ray support; Facebook, Twitter, last.fm integration; and the ability to organize purchases apps. Blu-Ray support only makes sense if Apple plans on releasing iMacs and Macbooks with Blu-Ray drives. Also on the table is “Project Cocktail.” Sources say that albums sold in the iTunes Store will not only come with digital PDF booklets; they will also come with “interactive album material.” The point of this is to entice customers to purchase entire albums instead of only the 99 cent singles.
- THE BEATLES: According to Yoko Ono herself the entire Beatles collection will finally be digitally distributed on the iTunes Store. EMI, the record company, told The Financial Times that this will not be announced tomorrow, though. [Via Engadget]
- Apple TV: Ah yes, the “hobby” that is the Apple TV. Jobs announced this product three years ago, and not much has changed since its release (besides a UI upgrade via a software upgrade). The latest rumors predict a new Apple TV device that supports DVR and CableCARD functionality. Today, though, these exact rumors were shot down by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer. He said such capability does not match Apple’s service scheme. And this makes sense; why would Apple allow its customers to freely record TV shows or movies when they have the iTunes Store for those needs. I do not see an upgrade to the aging Apple TV at this event. [Via Engadget]
- Apple tablet: The tablet will not be announced at this event. The most recent rumors point to a 2010 (or beyond) release.
- Steve Jobs appearance: It has been way too long since we’ve seen Jobs appear on stage at the helm of an Apple event. Now that his health has rebounded and he is back at work on the Apple campus in Cupertino, I expect him to at least make an appearence if not host the event.
Be sure to check back here for all the Apple news once it is announced. It takes place tomorrow at 10AM PDT (1PM ET). Get pumped!