Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall 2015: What’s New and Upcoming with Apple

About the author:
Beth Kelly is a freelance writer and blogger in Chicago, IL. An alum of DePaul University, she taught English in South Korea before returning to the US to write full-time. Find her on Twitter @bkelly_88

The Apple Media Event on September 9 previewed various new and updated consumer products that would carry the Apple banner into the coming year including iPhones, iPads, the Apple Watch, and Apple TV. 

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, as expected, were updated from last year's models with a new, faster A-9 processor, custom display chip, and faster fingerprint sensors. The iPad Pro, a much faster 12.9" desktop-class iPad for the enterprise was previewed, along with an Apple Pencil stylus and a keyboard built into the smart cover. The Apple TV was updated, with Siri controls and a tvOS operating system, based on iOS, and built to take advantage of the App Store. Apple Watch is also getting a reboot with updated apps and new looks. And finally, a new iPad Mini 4 was quietly announced without much detail. 

The new iPhones are the most advanced phones Apple has created and most advanced in the world featuring 3-D touchscreens and are now made of 7000 series aircraft grade aluminum, unlikely to bend. The 3-D touch screen adds new gestures like pressing and holding, and peek and pop. The rear iSight camera has increased to 12 megapixels, 50% more pixels than the iPhone 6, to shoot and edit 4K video right on the iPhone. Apple also announced an iPhone Upgrade lease program that lets users upgrade their iPhone every year for a monthly charge of only $32. 

The faster, larger, and much thinner iPad Pro is targeted mainly towards business users. The advanced iPad is compatible with a newly introduced smart keyboard that doubles as a cover 

and a pixel-precise stylus dubbed the Apple Pencil ready to work with the likes of MS Office, Adobe Photoshop and even human anatomy apps like 3D4Medical. The new Apple Pencil "feels like a true writing or drawing instrument," in the words of Jony Ive, as it deciphers stroke thickness from the angle and pressure presented by the user. 

The Apple Watch was originally released last April, and there are already over 10,000 compatible apps. Many of these are now getting upgrades - the Facebook Messenger app will let you send audio, location and text messages, the GroPo app serves as a camera viewfinder, and iTranslate allows you to dictate a word and get a translation. The devices look is also being upgraded. The watch itself comes in gold and rose gold, and an increased selection of bands are now available, including a brown leather band made by Hermés coming out in October. 

As for the Apple TV, a new operating system and Siri controls weren’t the only updates announced - apps are now the new big thing in the 4th generation device. The new tvOS operating system is designed to let third-party developers create apps specifically for the large screen and bluetooth remote. Siri will respond to a variety of commands and can be used to search for movies universally by title, genre, and actors across iTunes, Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Showtime. 

Apple TV is Apple's first serious attempt to take over the living room with streaming content and multiplayer interactive gaming. The new Apple TV ecosystem expands the living room beyond streaming content or gaming and arriving in advance of Apple's own Internet TV subscription service, expected sometime next year, should drive holiday sales. And while Apple Homekit was not mentioned at the event, many see it as a natural fit for the upgraded TV. The more powerful TV box could hypothetically work with home equipment controls, enabling connections to home security systems, automated appliances, and a variety of other compatible tech in your house. 

The number of new and updated devices announced by Apple pushed boundaries to new levels, exceeding all expectations. While there is nothing particularly earth-shattering about the new technology, the devices - Apple TV in particular - are serious contenders to replace multiple technologies including traditional TVs. Only time will tell if the mainstream market will respond to the updates the way Apple has hoped.

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