Since this is written from my perspective and with only my view in mind, I’m going to be honest and upfront about the fact that I couldn’t care less about the Apple TV and the Apple Watch segments of the event thus I shall refrain from commenting on those announcements and leave that analysis to Mark who actually owns an Apple Watch to dissect what was said and done.
Let me begin with the iPad Pro. The long awaited device that I have been predicting unsuccessfully for the last two years, has now become reality. I always felt that Apple could make the iPad more than an entertainment device and focus more on the enterprise side of business by making a device more aimed at the professionals amongst us. We saw the releases of the iPad Air one and two which took the design in the right direction by cutting down the bezel sizes to a minimum. Now this design has been maximised into mammoth proportions. The sheer size of the Pro, for me at least, renders the MacBook and MacBook Air useless, as you shall be able to purchase a keyboard and have similar functionality for a whole lot less. Then, you also have to consider the extra features such as the touch screen that make the MacBook’s look like a giant waste of money.
I love everything about the iPad Pro. From its 12.9 inch laptop size screen, to its powerful processor that simply begs belief at its performance results. From Graphs provided by Apple, the Pro is twice as fast when compared to my iPad Air when talking about CPUs and three times as fast when talking about the Graphics performances. The surround speaker set up finally pushes the iPad towards the surround sound that it deserves. The interesting thing for me will be how the active speakers will perform in real life, in regards to movement and counteracting it for the perfect sound. The new side port is even more alluring as it brings a whole new heap of possibilities for accessories via its magnetic connectivity. Whilst the Lightening Ports may be Apple’s present, I see the magnetic ports as the future, possibly even beating out USB-C as a new standard. I mean how good would it be not to have to plug cables in?
On the downside, there are the accessories. The Apple Pencil and the Keyboard are really just nicked designs from Microsoft and Samsung – of all companies. The Keyboard shall prove itself useful- of that I’m sure- but I would not be surprised by a good third party copy of the MacBook Pro keyboard and extra battery to complete the almost perfect mobile computing solution. USB ports possibly would not go a miss. At $169, it does feel like Apple are trying to drain every penny from us again. On the flipside of the spectrum, Apple also showed off the Apple Pencil. Before I go on any further, I’d like to bring back the announcement of the original iPhone, where the late Steve Jobs mocked the stylus for what it was worth. Now 8 years later, its back. For $99, you shall get a crafty piece of tech that will admittedly enrich your experience a little, bringing the iPad a little closer to something like a paper notepad, which kind of seems to be missing the point. If I am spending $799 on the iPad, I’d like to be using it as an electronic device as much as possible rather than a note pad that I can buy from Poundland for, well a pound. Furthermore, $99 is really steep for an electronic pencil. There are alternatives on the market already, for a third of the price.
When talking of the iPad Pro, I must mention iOS 9 which makes perfect use of the larger screen. One of the biggest updates to iOS is the ability to carry out side by side multitasking, something akin to what we have seen in Windows 8. This was highlighted by its use in conjunction with Microsoft’s apps such as Excel and Power Point. I have said this before, and I will say this again, I have always felt like this was a feature that seemed blatantly obvious to me, especially when moving up from a 4 inch smartphone to a 10 inch tablet. All, in all, iOS 9 brings a needed refresh in software to the line-up. Most of the other features in iOS 9 are 3D Touch related, which was one of the main talking points of the iPhone 6s.
Speaking of the iPhone 6s, it too was updated. Starting with the insides, the 6s and 6s Plus have new A9 chips with M9 motion processors inside. Making your way outside, the shell is now crafted from new 7000 series aluminium which is reportedly aerospace grade. This was done of course to combat the Bend-Gate issue the plagued the 6 Plus when it launched. The camera on the back received a spec bump, going from 8mpx to 12mpx. The camera module features the same optics and processors as before, but has worked on the pixels themselves allowing for better picture quality in different light situations. On the front you will now find a 5mpx iSight camera that is paired with Retina Flash that utilises the screen as the flash for photos. One new gimmick that Apple showed off was Live Photos which was an apparent attempt at trying to bring photos to life via motion, which resulted in what looks like a high definition GIF. A poor gimmick that didn’t strike the right kind of note with the tech community.
By far and away the biggest update to the iPhone 6 was the addition of the Force Touch that has been reinvented as 3D Touch for iPhone. Basically, it works just like Force Touch on the Apple Watch, but it preforms more tasks on the iPhone. Allowing for a quick peek at a message or a link, 3D Touch seems to have found a ton a useful features to add to the portfolio. For me the peek features that Apple demonstrated are just a natural progression – that seems more like a huge leap into the future – from what BlackBerry did with their peek feature for messaging in the BB Z10. 3D Touch has also found application within games, but that’s a feature that we have long anticipated and shall vary in implementation from game to game.
I’m not even going to go into the Rose Gold debacle, as I’m more than likely to go off the rails on a violent tangent, which wouldn’t end pleasantly
All in all, this event has delivered what has been promised to us via leaks for many weeks. The 6s delivers an expected upgrade over the 6, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t usually think much of the S versions, but this one doesn’t disappoint. Camera upgrades coupled with 3D Touch shows that the ceiling for this device is high. With prices being mostly frozen, the iPhone 6s is still expensive, but it’s consistent in the value that it offers. On the other side, the iPad Pro is a lot better than my expectations. Like I mentioned before, I see this as possibly the best mobile computer, and definitely the best iPad out there. The performance is there and it’s coupled with great design and useful features. The price is a tad off putting, as we may be looking at pricing north of £550, which does little to make this an easy sell. Roll On to the next Apple event. Could we be in for a surprise in October/November or is it a long wait till WWDC. Who knows, but for now, enjoy what the Cupertino giant has produced.