Yesterday was Apple’s September event. Given the length of Apple’s keynote, I opted to break up the two into articles. Yesterday’s <a href=‘https://www.waynedixon.com/2015/09/09/apples-epic-keynote-part-1/'>article covers the first two products, Apple Watch and iPad. This article will provide information about the last two items, Apple TV and iPhone.
It is not like Apple to show off new products too often. This was done in September of 2006 when then CEO Steve Jobs showed off a new product that they were calling “iTV”. By the time it was shown off again in January of 2007, name was changed to Apple TV. The Apple TV was originally based on a slimmed down version of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. At the time, the Apple TV was called a “hobby”. This hobby got an upgrade.
The second generation Apple TV was shown off in September of 2010. This iteration was a big change. The box was about 75% smaller, fanless, and was based on iOS. This model had no hard drive and only had 8GB of internal storage for caching. Apple has a curated “channel” list of approved HTML5 applications that could stream content to the Apple TV. This was not the last version.
The Third generation Apple TV was introduced in March of 2012. This model was identical to the second generation in physical appearance but could handle 1080p content and sported a single-core A5 processor. There was a minor revision to this model in January of 2013, but the box was effectively the same.
Fast forward 30 months to September 9th, 2015 and Apple has unveiled their fourth generation Apple TV. This one, is a big change.
The 4th Generation Apple TV has the same general shape as the the previous two generations. Physically, it is still the same width and depth as the previous two generations, but it is 43% taller at 1.3 inches. This change is needed to accommodate some of the new internals.
The new Apple TV sports an A8 Processor, the same as was in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and 6th generation iPod Touch. The new Apple TV also has bluetooth 4.0 support, 802.11A/B/G/N/AC with MIMO technology, an IR Receiver, HDMI 1.4, a USB-C port for service and support, and, disappointedly, 10/100Base-T Ethernet.
There was one thing removed from the 4th Generation Apple TV that was in the 2nd and 3rd generations, the digital optical out. This may be a problem for some, but for most it should not be an issue. That about covers the hardware changes, excluding one, the new remote.
The new Apple TV sports a new bluetooth remote, named the Siri Remote. The Siri Remote has a couple of features to it. The first is that it has a Touch surface at the top. This area allows for multi-directional navigation, the ability to click anywhere in the touch area, and even allows for precision when it comes to scrubbing a video.
The Siri Remote, also has a dedicated button for accessing Siri. With the Siri button, you are able to ask Siri to perform many actions. These actions include “Who directed this film?”, “Show me James Bond Films”, and even phrases like “What did she say?”. These phrases are contextually aware. When you ask who directed the film, an overlay will appear on top of the video with additional information about the film.
If you use the phrase “Show me James Bond Films”, you will receive a list of all James Bond films. You can say, “Only the ones with Daniel Craig”, and Siri will have the Apple TV reduce the list to the ones that show Daniel Craig.
The phrase “What did she/he say” will skip the video back 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions, so you will be able to see exactly what was said.
Siri on the Apple TV also has the capability of searching multiple sources for content. The initial group includes iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime. These are just the initial list of sources and Apple will be adding more as time goes on.
The power behind this is the all new operating system, tvOS.
tvOS is Apple’s name for the operating system that underlies the new Apple TV. tvOS is still based on iOS, but it is running a variant of the latest version, iOS 9. tvOS is designed to be more powerful update to the existing Apple TV Operating system.
tvOS includes the familiar Movies, tv shows, photos, and music. tvOS even includes the new Apple Music subscription service. These all received a nice new and fresh look that is brighter than the previous versions.
There is even a new feature on Movie Posters, parallaxing. Parallaxing is the concept of moving a picture slightly to make it appear as though it is three dimensional. It is an interesting effect when seen.
A new operating system and a snazzy new remote are nice and all, but how does one utilize all of that power? Simple, allow developers access. tvOS is designed to be used with 3rd party applications.
tvOS is designed to allow developers to build applications. These could be shopping applications, like Gilt (which was shown off during the keynote), or even Amazon. With a powerful box and touch-based remote, one could easily see other possible uses, like games. This is one of the major functions that Apple has in mind for the 4th generation Apple TV.
When you have a piece of hardware that has the same capabilities of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, it should not be surprising that gaming could come to mind. Being able to play games on an 9.7-inch iPad is good, but only having 9.7 inches of screen real estate does not work well if you have a number of people who want to watch and participate. This is where the Apple TV will shine.
There are many iOS games, like Crossy Road, Pac-Man256, and Ball Jump, are enjoyed by many people on the iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Even with this personal enjoyment, there are times when being able to play against others is more enjoyable on a larger screen. The Apple TV is the platform for this.
Developers will be able to create Universal applications that will work across all iOS devices. Even with these universal applications, developers will be able to create unique gaming experiences that are tuned specifically for the Apple TV. This experience may be with a game controller.
The ability to use either game controllers or other iOS devices will allow developers to provide gamers the ability to have fun while playing multiplayer games.
The new Apple TV comes in two models, 32GB for $149 and 64GB for $149. Both Models will be available starting in late October.
Final Thoughts on Apple TV
The Apple TV has received the long-awaited upgrade. The refreshed interface, with the new tvOS will allow more individuals to experience a whole new way of watching TV. The interactions enabled by the Siri Remote will allow for in-depth functionality and allow viewers to get more information about what they are watching. The integration of Siri also allows the searching of multiple sources, which means that users do not need to know which application has the content they want to watch, they can now just search for it and begin watching. tvOS will allow developers to create new and innovative experiences with all sorts of applications, but more importantly, games.
Apple’s biggest business is the iPhone. At each September event since the iPhone 5 in 2011, Apple has been released new iPhones. This remains the case for this September event.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were two of Apple’s best selling phones. They have now been moved down the rung and replaced by the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The two new models run Apple’s custom A9 processor, a sibling of the A9x in the iPad Pro. According to Apple, this is 70% faster in CPU performance and 90% faster in graphics performance over their A7 chip.
With the release of the iPhone 5s, Apple included a motion co-processor, the M7. With the M7 and M8, the co-processor was in a separate chip outside of the CPU. With the A9, this changes. The M9 co-processor is now inside of the CPU. This means that the “Hey Siri” feature, can now be accessed anytime, due to the M9 getting constant power.
There are a few consistent aspects to the new iPhones. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus still come in the same storage configurations of 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB. Along with storage, the screen sizes remain at 4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively. They hold the same resolutions of 1334 by 750 pixels, and 1920 by 1080 pixels.
The Retina HD screens remain, but have been enhanced by a new feature called 3D Touch.
As the iPhone has progressed in its life, the screen and the touch surface have become ever increasingly one piece. This has proven to be beneficial with the new feature of 3D Touch. The ability for Apple to bring these two pieces closer has led the ability to add to the backlight of the Retina HD screen to accommodate for 3D Touch. 3D Touch will detect the microscopic changes
3D Touch is the ability to press into the surface of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus to perform additional functions. These functions are ultimately “deep links” in iOS 9 and allow direct access to the most common functions of an application.
For instance, in the Music app, you are able to Play Beats1, Search your library, and even bring up the last item playing. With the camera app, you can quickly take a Selfie, Record Video, or even record a Slo Motion video.
The last example is with Mail. When you press down on the Mail App with 3D Touch, you are able to compose a new message, search your mail, view VIP mail, and even jump right to your inbox.
There are two concepts with 3D Touch, peek and pop. When you press lightly down on an object, you will be able to look at an item in context. If you press harder, that item will pop to fill the entire screen. A good example of this is within the Mail app. Within Mail you can lightly press down on a message and see a quick look of the message. If you continue to press down, the message will take over the entire screen. Another example is if you’re in the Contacts app and when you lightly press on a contact, you are able to can message them, call them, or even send them an email.
3D Touch will add another level of interaction between applications and the users of those applications. 3D Touch is just one change to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, another is the Camera.
There is a common phrase, “The best camera you have is the one you have with you”. Apple tries to make this possible with all of their iPhones. One of the aspects of the iPhone that Apple prides themselves on is the camera. Even the original iPhone in 2007 had a camera. Over the intervening eight years, Apple has improved the camera and its capabilities. Some of these include High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos, the ability to capture movies at 30, 60, and 120 frames per second, the ability to take panorama photos, and much more.
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus cameras have received some major updates. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to have an 8MP camera. The benchmark of 8 megapixels has remained constant through the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. With the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, this is no longer the case. The camera has received an upgrade.
The new camera is a 12 megapixel camera. You may think, “The megapixel wars are over”, and they likely are. But the new Camera is capable of taking pictures with less noise. This is due to the 1.22 micron pixels in the camera, and the technology to keep the colors separated with deep trench isolation.
The 12MP camera also brings an enhancement to video recording. The capability of recording 4K video that is 3840 by 2160 at 30 frames per second. This new capability also allows for taking 8 megapixel images while recording 4K video, which is a feat in itself.
4K Video recording is not the only change to cameras, the front-facing camera has also received a nice upgrade from 1.2 megapixels to a 5 megapixel camera. This camera will now allow clearer and better pictures. To put this in perspective, this is the same number of pixels that was in the rear facing camera on the iPhone 4 and there was more space in the iPhone 4 for that camera.
There is one more feature for the front facing camera, a flash, but it not a traditional flash. The front facing camera uses the Retina HD screen as its flash. The entire screen will flash momentarily when the flash is needed. This will be great for those low-light selfie shots that people need to get.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus still come in the Silver, Space Grey, and Gold options. However, there is now one additional option, Rose Gold. The Rose Gold iPhone is only available on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
The market for phones is changing in the United States. It is now better reflecting how the rest of the world handles their phones. If your carrier still allows contracts, you can get the new phones on contract for $199 for a 16GB iPhone 6s and $299 for a 16GB iPhone 6s Plus. You can also purchase your phone at full price starting at $649 and $749 respectively. Each storage increase will increase the price by $100, up to $949 for a 128GB iPhone 6s Plus.
There is one other pricing model, the financing model. This is done by carriers and you pay a premium on your cell phone plan until you pay off your phone. With these plans, you are eligible for an upgrade after a certain number of payments. The fewer payments, the more per month your phone will cost. Apple is getting into this game with it’s Annual Upgrade Program.
Apple has unveiled a new program that allows customers to get a new iPhone every year from Apple. They must finance their iPhone purchase through Apple. With this, they will receive a new iPhone every year. The iPhone they select will be unlocked and include AppleCare+ for their monthly fee.
What is not clear is what happens when you upgrade. Does the remaining balance continue to accrue, or does the difference in cost get absorbed by Apple. It remains to be seen how this will pan out for users, but it is another option.
There has been an additional change with the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus; the cost of AppleCare+. In previous years, the cost of Apple’s extended warranty has stood at $99. This time it has gone up to $129. It is presumed that the 3D Touch sensor, as well as the Taptic engine has added to the increase in price.
As occurs every year, last year’s flagship models remain in the lineup. This is still the case with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus this year. There have been a couple of changes with this line-up. The first is that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus no longer come in 128GB models. They only come in 16GB and 64GB models. The second change is that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are no longer available in Gold. As expected, the price of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have dropped a bit in price. They now start at $549 for the 16GB iPhone 6 and $649 for the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 5s is now "free" on contact, or can be purchased without contract starting at $450.
Apple’s keynote was just about two and a half hours long after all four announcements and a musical number of One Republic. Apple’s newest product line, the Apple Watch received a nice update with watchOS 2. The new Hermes collection and the new watch bands will allow Apple Watch users to create new combinations. The new Rose Gold Aluminum Apple Watch will allow a new choice for users who want to have Rose Gold, but cannot afford the luxury price.
Apple’s newly introduced iPad Pro will big a big boon for users who can use the larger screen. The capabilities with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard can make it a replacement device for a number of individuals.
The revamped Apple TV with its new application-based platform is something that has been requested by users for a long time. The ability to pair a game controller with the Apple TV will allow games to have new experiences. Universal applications will allow developers to create experiences that span a range of screens to include the largest one of all, the Television. tvOS is a great new basis for developers to bring even more to the Apple TV.
The flagship product line of the iPhones has received a significant upgrade with the A9 Processors with the M9 built in, along with the new 3D Touch technology will provide iPhone owners with new interactions and provide quick access to common features. The upgraded 12 megapixel camera with 4K video recording is one of the biggest differentiating factors of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s.
Overall, Apple has outdone themselves again and released a plethora of new products and updates to appeal to a large number of individuals.