So, Apple had a big event this week. What do you need to know?
Apple Watch will be available for pre-order, and store display, on April 10, and will ship on April 24. It will be available in a plethora of colors, materials, and watch bands (and we have to imagine there will be tons of the latter offered by other vendors). All models will be available in two sizes, offer equivalent capabilities, and require an iPhone. There will be special Apple Watch apps. The demo and the ad are pretty slick.
Continuing with Apple’s recent tradition of inscrutable product naming, we have:
- “Apple Watch Sport”: silver or grey high-tech aluminum alloy body; hardened glass crystal; plastic band. Starts at $349.
- “Apple Watch”: silver or black stainless steel body; sapphire crystal; plastic, metal, or leather band. Starts at $549.
- “Apple Watch Edition”: 18-karat yellow or rose gold alloy body; sapphire crystal; plastic, metal, or leather band. Starts at — wait for it — $10,000. Supplies will be limited, available from Apple and “select retail stores.”
As soon as we’ve had a chance to try one out, you’ll be the first to know. If you would like us to pre-order an Apple Watch for you as soon as they go on sale at midnight on April 10, please contact us.
Apple introduced an all-new ultra-tiny, ludicrously thin portable Mac, simply called “MacBook”, which fuses iPad and notebook computer design concepts. Confusingly, this new model is thinner and lighter than the MacBook Air (which remains as a separate product) and is available for sale April 10. The MacBook’s noteworthy features are:
- Two pounds total (!)
- 12-inch Retina ultra-high resolution display (with 1400×900 usable resolution, same as the 13” MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro with Retina display models)
- No fan (hooray, say I)
- New keyboard technology with pinpoint backlighting, even keypresses, and larger keys
- New trackpad that can give you touch feedback and is pressure-sensitive
Apple’s expectation is that, like an iPad, people are going to use this Mac with wireless technology like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and take advantage of its “all-day” battery; and consequently, like an iPad, Apple has equipped it with only a headphone jack and a single port for power, USB peripherals, and external display. It’s called a USB-C port, and it’s not yet widespread but is soon expected to become so across the industry.
But that means a Mac with only one port, including for power. If you want USB and/or video, and power at the same time, you’ll need at least one adapter. If you want Thunderbolt, you’ll have to buy a different model. This may end up being a perfect fit for many customers, but it’s likely to put off power users, as is the low-performance CPU. They’ll probably still want a MacBook Air, or a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Otherwise, many adapters will need to be at hand, even for items as mundane as USB hard drives.
The introduction of the MacBook as a new product, rather than as a replacement for the MacBook Air, also now makes it much harder to figure out which Mac to buy. The new MacBook is much lighter than either MacBook Air model, and has a much better display, yet the MacBook Air is more powerful, more flexible, and costs less. Arguably this gives customers more choices, but I don’t think making customers evaluate difficult buying tradeoffs helps Apple’s cause. I’m surprised they simply didn’t call this new machine the 2015 MacBook Air, discontinue the existing models, and ignore whatever grousing might result. As evidenced by the still-available optical-drive MacBook Pro (last updated in 2012) and the older iPad models still in the lineup, the post-Jobs Apple appears to once again have difficulty letting go of old things.
Those were the big announcements. There were some small ones too. One item that caught my eye was that Apple is going to let medical researchers develop apps designed for letting a vastly larger number of patients participate in medical research programs much more easily, using their iPhone to collect vastly more detailed information than has been previously available, and giving the participants themselves far more feedback about their progress and its results than is usually available. By exponentially growing the research pool, this could have profound effects on development of new treatments.
There were minor improvements to the 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display; it gets the MacBook’s new trackpad technology, longer battery life, and faster CPU and solid state drive. The MacBook Air also received improvements to CPU and battery life, as well as having its Thunderbolt port upgraded to Thunderbolt 2.
Finally, Apple is exclusively providing the new HBO Now app on Apple TV’s and iOS devices, which allows even non-HBO subscribers to be able to watch their shows on their devices. The price of the Apple TV was also dropped to $69 (from $99).
I know that’s a lot to swallow, but they said a lot of stuff. Call and talk to us about it if you have any questions!