Apple Event: Two new iPhones, jazzed up Apple TV, supersize iPad

Plus new Apple Watches. UPDATED with NZ pricing and VIDEOS.

Apple's media event in the US has gone largely to script, confirming rumours of the past few days. Hightlights:

  • Apple confirmed the supersize iPad Pro, which will have a 12.9-inch Retina display (fullsize iPads today have 9.7-inch screens), four speakers, 4G, Touch ID, bundled Microsoft (Office for iOS) and Adobe (Photoshop Fix) apps and an optional keyboard. In a change from the past (Steve Jobs famously waggled his fingers and said people already have 10 styluses) it will support a stylus called the Apple Pencil. Some geekboys were disappointed it lacked the predicted USB port, which would have made it a more full-blooded laptop replacement option in the manner of Microsoft's Surface. The iPad Pro will be available in New Zealand from November, Apple says. Local pricing has yet to be detailed. In the US, the iPad Pro will sell for between  $US799 (32GB and wi-fi only) to $1079 (128 GB, wi-fi and cellular). The Pencil costs $US99, and the Smart Keyboard $US169.

The new iPad Pro (rear) with the existing standard and mini iPads

Using the new Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro

  • The iPhone 6 and 6Plus get incremental upgrades called the 6S and the 6S Plus. The new models have the same case but some better hardware under the hood including support for 4K (ultra HD) video and a boost in rear camera resolution from 8 megapixels to 12 megapixels (bear in mind that one hour of 4K footage goobles up about 42GB of storage, so it's going to be a suck on onboard storage or your free 5GB on iCloud). There's also a new pressure-sensitive 3D Touch feature that's the equivalent to right-clicking an icon on a PC.  For example, when you push the Camera icon hard, options like "Take Selfie", "Take Video" and "Take Photo" appear on a drop-down menu. Speaking of the camera, it gets more smarts including the ability to capture a couple of seconds of motion either side of a still photo for a "Live Photo" effect (see video clip below). Apple also says its Touch ID fingerprint logon is now twice as fast. Both phones will be available for NZ pre-orders from September 12. The  iPhone 6s will be available in gold, silver, space grey and the new rose gold metallic finishes for $1199 (16GB), $1399 (64GB) and $1599 (128GB). The  iPhone 6s Plus will be available in the same finishes for $1399 (16GB), $1599 (64GB) and $1799 (128GB).

Above and below: 3D Touch

Above: Live Photo

  •  As expected, the new Apple TV ($US150) will come with a remote upgrade to include a glass "touch" area and Siri support. If you say "What did she say?", the remote will skip back 10 seconds in a programme (personally I still prefer the physical skip back 10 seconds button on my TiVo remote). Siri will also let you search for a programme across all services on your Apple TV. It worked at Apple's demo with the voice query ""Show me that 'Modern Family' episode with Edward Norton." The new Apple TV also supports Nintendo Wii-style games, letting you jump around using your remote as the game control. The new remote is also Bluetooth, meaning you won't have to point it at your Apple TV. It'll charge via a Lightning cable with battery life rated three months. At one point, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "Our vision for TV is simple, and perhaps a little provocative: We believe the future of TV is apps." Apple TV already features apps for the likes of Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime (local contenders Lightbox, Neon and Quickflix haven't been let inside the invitation-only fold). The new Apple TV will have its own app store and a new operating system, called tvOS, which will include support for games and other apps. Apple says the new Apple TV is still in beta and "coming soon". 

The new Apple TV and remote

  • The company also confirmed iOS 9 — the latest version of Apple's free software that runs iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — will be available from September 16. A New York Times preview says highlights are better battery life (through tricks like only delivering onscreen alerts when your iPhone senses it's facing up) and a smarter Siri. On an iPad, iOS 9 will allow true multitasking for the first time. You'll be able to run two apps in windows side by side or, say, watch a video while you surf the web.

Multitasking (running two apps at once, side by side) with iOS 9 on an iPad.

  • Apple also announced a free upgrade to the software that runs its Watch. As anticipated, watchOS 2 adds native support for third-party apps. That means companies other than Apple will be able to make software that runs on the Watch itself rather than be fed from an iPhone in your pocket — which causes lag. The upgrade also features more watchface interface options. watchOS 2 will be available from September 16. Apple also announced NZ availability for new Apple Watch case and band options


Apple Watch sales better than first thought
Meanwhile, it seems Apple Watch sales might not have been as slow as some analysts have speculated.

Research firm IDC says Apple shipped 3.6 million Apple Watch units in the second quarter, after it began shipping on April 24.

Apple has not made any comment on Watch numbers, bar the observation that the gadget was only in 1% of retail outlets that feature Apple stock. It plans to expand.

IDC says Apple is second among sellers of wearable devices behind Fitbit, which shipped 4.4 million units during the second quarter.

Note they cover shipments rather than sales but the IDC figures suggest the Watch has gotten off to a better start than the iPad or iPhone. Apple launched the iPad on April 3, 2010 and sold 3.27 million units in that first quarter. The iPhone went on sale in June 2007 as the quarter was wrapping up and sold 270,000 units.

In the following three months, Apple sold 1.12 million iPhones.

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