12 things we learnt at the Apple event
Okay, so only two of those things actually happened (on-camera at least), but there are still plenty of other things we've learnt from Tim Cook and friends.
If you didn't manage to catch the live stream, or simply want to jog your memory of what went down at Apple HQ, then we've covered all the best bits, right here.
1) Apple really wants to be the good guy (Part 1)
Tim Cook sticking it to The Man
Eagerly anticipating new iThings? Well tonight, you were made to wait for your gadget fix, as Apple took advantage of a captive audience (of viewers at least) to big itself up.
First, we got the latest round in Tim Cook Vs The Man, with the Apple leader calmly socking it to the FBI.
"We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and we know it is a deeply personal device,” he told the audience to loud applause. “We need to decide, as a nation, how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy. We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.”
Thanks, Tim. Seems you’re just as much of a hippy at heart as Steve Jobs was.
2) Apple really wants to be the good guy (part 2)
Next up: iPhones! Nope, the environment.
We’re not about to criticise that decision, given that it affects the future of our planet and all who live on it - although we would happily have had the info in a press release rather than in 10 minutes of a live event.
Anyhoo, the upshot is that Apple is greener than ever, with 93% of its facilities running on renewable energy and 99% of the paper in its packaging either recycled or from sustainable sources. It’s also made a robot called Liam which takes iPhones apart for recycling and which would undoubtedly do a better job ruling America than Donald Trump.
3) Apple can do niche movie
Tucked in the middle of this ‘Liam chat’ was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to the worst movie of all-time: Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa,” complained Siri to Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. And lo, the world’s best-known artificial intelligence assistant has now entered its hipster phase.
4) Apple really wants to be the good guy (part 3)
Finally, iPhones! Nope - next up was HealthKit. Again, it would be churlish of us to criticise given the great work that Apple is doing in this area, so we won’t.
As well as reminding us how much everyone loves HealthKit, Apple announced the new CareKit platform, which will sit alongside ResearchKit to help patients manage their individual care regimes.
Rather than being an app itself, CareKit will enable care providers to create individual apps for patients. For instance, one of the first helps Parkinson’s sufferers track the effectiveness of the drugs they’re taking, while another uses the accelerometer to test patients’ range of motion following an operation.
It’s hard to see what Apple gets out of it beyond good PR and possibly making doctors and sick people more likely to use iPhones, so we’ll assume they really are just doing these things to be nice. That doesn’t mean we forgive you for that U2 album though, Apple.
5) Apple’s 5c experiment failed
The iPhone 5c was supposed to be Apple’s ‘cheap’ handset, but never really took off in the way it wanted. Its plastic design struggled to justify a £469 launch price, which still made the 5c more expensive than the vast majority of Android handsets.
So here’s the iPhone SE, Apple’s second crack at the sort of affordable 4-inch handset. And do you know what? It looks pretty handy. Combining a sleek aluminium design that leans on the iPhone 5s with the iPhone 6s’ A9 processor and 12-megapixel camera, it feels like a better deal than the 5c. And at a starting price of £359, it is.
With a reported 35% of iPhone users still using a 4-inch device, the iPhone SE could well be the handset that finally convinces them to upgrade. We just hope its battery life is up to scratch.
6) 16GB storage is still the standard for iPhones
The whole gang
More than the lack of 3D Touch or its 1.2-megapixel selfie camera, the iPhone SE’s most disappointing feature is its 16GB storage on entry-level models. When you consider a significant chunk of this will be chomped up by iOS 9.3, any snap or app-happy SE owner may quickly struggle for space on their new handset. Why? For all its social niceties, Apple still wants to rake in cash by the truckload. Skimping on a 32GB storage allows it to do just that, again.
7) Apple’s made a smaller iPad Pro
It's like the iPad Pro. But smaller
As expected, Apple announced a new iPad tonight. Essentially a mash-up of the iPad Air 2 and existing iPad Pro, the new iPad Pro is a 9.7in-slate (like the Air) with an A9x processor, brighter screen and improved camera (like the bigger Pro).
Like its 12.9in sibling, it’ll work with the Apple Pencil, obviously, which Senior VP Phil Schiller actually had the gall to describe as “the greatest accessory Apple ever made”. Really, Phil? Better than the iPod Sock?
Also like the BigPadPro™ it’ll come in 32, 128 and whopping great 256GB models, with prices starting at £499 and rising to £739.
8) The iPad Air isn’t dead yet
What a lovely day
Apple now has a five-strong line-up of iPads, starting with the two iPad Minis then taking in the Air and two Pros. That’s a bit of a surprise to us: we expected the 9.7in Pro to kill off the Air line. After all, why would you want one when you could get more power, a better screen and The Greatest Apple Accessory Of All Time (ie the Pencil) via the new 9.7in Pro?
Price, that’s what. As with the two iPad Minis, the 9.7in iPads offer you a choice between power (Pro) and price (Air), with the Air 2 starting at £150 less than the 9.7in Pro. Will the Air line survive into 2017?
9) Apple Watch is cheaper (but still too expensive)
Taste the rainbow
Aside from the incomprehensibly expensive £1,100 Tag Heuer Connected, the Apple Watch is pretty much the most expensive smartwatch you can buy. Even after its entry-level price cut from £299 to a new, more reasonable £259. If your wrist is Watch-less but you’re newly tempted by Apple’s wearable, we’d recommend saving your cash for when its second incarnation in inevitably revealed this September.
10) iOS 9.3 is out today
Spot the difference
It’s been a long time coming, seeing as it’s been available in beta form for almost three months, but you can finally get your hands on iOS 9.3.
The update servers went online just after Apple’s launch event wrapped up, letting iPhone and iPad owners start downloading and be ready to roll by tea time.
Big new additions include Night Shift, which should help stop your eyes being seared by a bright screen just before you go to bed, and Notes can be password or fingerprint protected - sorry, FBI.
We’ve got the low-down on every new feature here.
11) Why no new laptops, Apple?
Intel’s super-powerful Skylake processors were meant to be arriving in Apple’s MacBook range last year, so we‘d assumed their delay would be laid to rest tonight. The likes of Dell, HP and Microsoft have already adopted the new chips, so there’s no reason for Tim Cook and co’s hesitation. Like a sloth in a hammock, they will not be rushed and so our hope turns to WWDC 16 for the long-awaited update. C’mon guys, get on with it.
12) Apple’s moving house
Why Tim, why?
As Tim Cook wound down the event, he recapped the announcements: the environmental crowing, the iPhone SE, iPad Pro 9.7in and so on. And then he paused. Around the world, tired tech journalists silently prayed that he wouldn’t announce that fabled ‘...one more thing.’ Around the world, traffic-chasing tech editors hoped that he would.
Well, he didn’t. Instead, he showed us a picture of Apple’s nice new house. It looks as you might imagine it would: like something designed by an LSD-popping, sci-fi-addicted 1960s artist who’d been asked to come up with a vision of what people would be living on in Earth’s Europa colonies in 2216. It’s called the Spaceship, and it looks like a colossal ring - hence the ‘Loop you in’ clue in the invite.
We’re very happy for you, Apple, but really we’d have preferred that £500 MacBook Air Retina we’ve been dreaming of.
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