Apple has bid farewell on another keynote. Today’s main focus was the Apple Watch, more-so finding out more concrete pricing details. That said, they did have plenty more to talk about regarding the Apple Watch — add to that, new Macs (which was a pretty big announcement in and of itself) as well as a lot of other smaller things such as Health Research Kit, and more.
So without further adieu, let’s get to it.
We’ll start with the most hyped part of today’s keynote, the Watch. Cook spent some time on stage refreshing our memories about some of the watch faces and features of the watch. But what we all wanted to know more about is the pricing breakdown.
Apple Watch (Stainless steal cases – traditional and space black)
- 38mm – $349
- 42mm – $399
Apple Watch Sport (Anodized aluminum cases – silver and space gray)
- 38mm – $549-$1049
- 42mm – $599-$1099
Apple Watch Edition 18kt gold (yellow or rose)
- Starting at $10 thousand dollars and only available via select retailers in low numbers. (Read: exclusive)
*Pricing for many of the watches varies depending on the band*
With that out of the way, there wasn’t really any other “new” info revealed today that we haven’t already heard or seen elsewhere – just a lot of app demos on stage. That said, we think the answer to pricing is one of the biggest unknowns left on many peoples’ list. The other big question: battery life.
Apple claims “all day battery life across a range of activities”. Such a phrase equates to ~18 hours in Apple’s book. Apple has posted a more detailed explenation of battery life on their website listing battery life as follows:
- Talk time: 3 hours
- Audio playback: 6.5 hours
- Workout tracking: 7 hours
- *Watch test: 48 hours
- **Power Reserve: 72 hours
- Charge Time: 1.5 hours (80%) | 2.5 hours (100%)
*According to Apple’s long term “Watch” and “Power Reserve” tests, testing includes 5 time checks (4 seconds each) per hour.
**Power reserve mode is activated automatically when the Apple Watch battery gets “too low”, and will still display basic time for up to 72 hours.
Charging your Apple Watch on the go will require a special adapter. There’s this normal one at $29 or a 2-meter long version for $39 (here). Looking at how we’ve used various Android Wear devices over the last 12 months, we’d say that’s on par at first glance. We’ll have to wait until we have some on hands testing to get a true picture of it though.
Helping you stay connected and in control of your Apple Watch (such as downloading Apple Watch apps) can be done with the new Apple Watch app available beginning today for iOS 8.2. Speaking of which, 8.2 is now available.
Even though it had a decent start several months back, at today’s keynote, Cook announced that the momentum is only beginning. The ~half a dozen banks that partnered with Apple Pay at launch is now up to 2500 card-issuing banks and ~700,000 merchants across the U.S.
On stage, Tim Cook claimed that Apple had “reinvented the notebook”. The bolster such a claim, they showed off all new Macbook Airs that are even thinner (impossibly so) than the current Airs on the market.
At a mere 2 lbs. and 13.1 mm thin at it’s thickest point, the new Macbooks are thin. Speaking of, it’s not “Macbook Air”. This 12-inch model is just “Macbook”. You’ll also notice the colors: Gold, silver, and Space Gray ala iPhone/iPad. Even though it’s so tiny, the keyboard is still described as “full size” and the trackpad appears to be wider.
Phil Schiller had a lot to cover regarding the new Mac’s hardware and started with the keyboard, specifically, the way the keys are attached and in turn tapped on. A new butterfly design replaces the industry standard scissor design for a more uniform typing experience. There’s also a new LED backlit design that places an LED under each key instead of the overall covering LED normally used.
Moving on the Macbook finally features a Retina display. The resolution:
2304 x 1440 resolution stretched across 12 inches. The trackpad now incorporates the Apple Watch’s “force touch” pressure sensitivity. Good-bye old school physical clicking. That said, there is a magnet system underneath that will provide force feedback so there is some feeling for your fingers to register.
To help achieve the small footprint (for a 12-inch computer), Apple has made the logic board incredibly tiny and removed all fans. Intel’s Broadwell chips are to thank here. The tiny 14nm die size means the power draw on these new Macs is just 5 watts. Processor speeds will range from 1.1-1.2 GHz (base) and Turbo up to 2.9 GHz. Other specs include 8 GB of memory and a 256 GB SSD.
Naturally, with a 67% smaller logic board and more space inside, battery cells are moving in to more places. Apple quotes wireless web browsing at 9 hours and movie playback at 10 hours. Really, the new Macbook is all battery and metal.
Connectivity is handled by 802.11ac, bluetooth and USB type C. USB type C is the reversible usb port/cable we’ve been hearing about that also happens to be a third of the size of a standard USB port. Given the tiny size of the new 12-inch Air, this port is highly needed. That said, a single port is a longstanding issue that will require many users to pony up for a hub of some sort.
If the 12-inch model isn’t doing it for you, Apple announced that the 13-inch Macbook Pro and 11/13-inch Airs are also getting updates today. The “fat” 13-inch Macbook Pro will get updated i5/i7 Intel processors and Force Touch trackpad as well as faster flash storage and an updated 10-hour battery life. Ditto the processor updates for the 11 and 13-inch Macbook Airs (which also get Thunderbolt 2, now).
Hardware: PRICE DROP! The Apple TV is now $69, down from the long standing $99 price point. And that’s it. Tim didn’t take any time on stage to announce any improved specs. That said, saving $30 at the register is something we’ll take.
While the hardware itself was relatively minor all things considered, the content side has some big news, and was handled by HBO’s CEO coming out on stage to announce “HBO Now”, the new, exclusive (to Apple TV/iPhone/iPad) digital only service for $14.99/month. For those of you out there who own an Apple/iOS device and are consumers of HBO’s content, the $15/month offering is pretty tempting, especially if you’re the type that has been questioning “cutting the cord”.
CarPlay: On stage, Tim announced that every major car manufacturer had committed to supporting CarPlay. We’ll have to keep following this for more info as time goes on as nothing else was said on stage.
Research Kit: A software framework kit to allow medical researchers make apps that combine the iPhone and HealthKit into a powerful, wide ranging data collection tool for research purposes. Instead of medical researchers relying on more manual, sporadic and highly subjective updates on something like a medical study, they can now collect much quicker data via the iDevices that are already in the hands of millions of people around the world.
The best part about Research Kit, however, is that Apple is making it open source. The 5 Research Kit powered apps Apple showed off during the keynote are available as of today.
Today was a pretty big keynote. And truth be told, we’d say the Macbook news was at least on par with the Apple Watch. Still, we’ll be scouring the web for more trinkets as the hours/days go on.
Thoughts on today’s announcements?