Apple unveiled a wide range of what CEO Tim Cook deemed “monster announcements” at its September press event, held in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, presenting the iPhone 6S, the iPad Pro, iOS 9, a new Apple TV and Apple Watch updates.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
The new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus smartphones are the latest evolution of Apple’s mobile device, featuring new 3D Touch technology, a 12 megapixel camera and the A9 chip.
3D Touch introduces new ways to navigate the iPhone 6S range by sensing pressure to enable new gestures – which Apple is calling Peek and Pop - so users can dip in and out of content without losing their place. Press lightly to Peek at a photo, email, web page or other content and press a little deeper to Pop into the content itself. With Quick Actions, 3D Touch provides shortcuts to the things people do most, such as sending a message or taking a selfie with a simple press from the Home screen.
The iPhone 6S camera – already highly regarded - has been further enhanced, with a new 12-megapixel sensor for the front camera with advanced pixel technology and Apple-designed image signal processor, for truer colours and sharper, more detailed photos, and a new five-megapixel FaceTime HD rear camera and Retina Flash, which momentarily makes the display three times brighter with True Tone lighting, for bright selfies in low light.
The iPhone 6S also introduces Live Photos, which capture moments in motion. These 12-megapixel images capture the moments immediately before and after the shot was taken, meaning users can relive a broader moment beyond the typical photographic instant frozen in time.
The video capability has also improved, with support for 4K with a resolution of 3840 x 2160, delivering over 8 million pixels, and the expansion of optical image stabilisation to video on iPhone 6s Plus, for taking beautiful videos in lower light. After capturing 4K video, you can edit on your Mac, PC, iPad and with the latest version of iMovie on iPhone, you can even edit two simultaneous streams.
“The only thing that has changed with iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is everything. 3D Touch lets users interact with iPhone in entirely new and fun ways and the innovative Live Photos brings your pictures to life,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “These are the most advanced iPhones ever, with 7000 series aluminium, ion-strengthened glass, the new 64-bit A9 chip, 12-megapixel iSight and 5-megapixel FaceTime HD cameras, faster Touch ID, LTE and Wi-Fi. Customers are going to love them.”
The second major hardware announcement was the iPad Pro, which has a decidedly roomy 12.9-inch Retina display. Two new accompanying accessories also made their debut: the Apple Pencil stylus and the Smart Keyboard.
The iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch Retina display has 5.6 million pixels and is powered by a new 64-bit A9X chip. A new four-speaker audio design reactive to device orientation provides clear and rich stereo sound, while the anodised aluminium unibody enclosure familiar from iPad Air remains thin and light.
Apple Pencil for iPad Pro is a precision input device designed to make drawing and sketching feel fluid and natural. The touch subsystem of the Multi-Touch display in iPad Pro has been redesigned to work with Apple Pencil to reduce latency and deliver better accuracy for activities like fine art illustration and detailed 3D design. Advanced sensors in Apple Pencil measure both pressure and tilt for a fast and fluid drawing experience, while a built-in Lightning connector allows for easy pairing and charging. Apple Pencil also works with apps such as Mail, Notes, Procreate and Office 365 for iPad.
The new Smart Keyboard is a full-sized keyboard that attaches to iPad Pro’s Smart Connector port, eliminating the need for a separate battery, on/off switch or Bluetooth pairing. The Smart Keyboard is covered in custom woven fabric and features keys that provide the accuracy, stability and satisfying key feel of standard keyboards, but is also easily foldable and can transform into a Smart Cover. The Smart Keyboard also works with the new QuickType features in iOS 9 to make typing even faster and easier.
“iPad Pro is the most advanced and powerful iPad we have ever made. Its beautiful and large 12.9-inch Retina display has 5.6 million pixels and provides an immersive experience for content and apps. The iPad Pro is far and away the fastest iOS device we have ever made — its A9X chip beats most portable PCs in both CPU and graphics tasks, but is thin and light enough to hold all day,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The innovative Apple Pencil and new Smart Keyboard enable users to customise their iPad Pro experience to the particular apps they use and the work they do, making iPad Pro ideal for everything from professional productivity to advanced 3D design.”
Apple’s diminutive TV set-top box also got some San Francisco love, gaining weight and height, as well as the App Store, a new voice-command Siri Remote and tvOS software.
The new Apple TV introduces an intuitive and fun user interface using the Siri Remote. Apple TV runs the all-new tvOS operating system, based on Apple’s iOS, enabling iOS developers to create innovative new apps and games specifically for Apple TV and deliver them directly to users through the new Apple TV App Store.
“There has been so much innovation in entertainment and programming through iOS apps, we want to bring that same excitement to the television,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Apps make the TV experience even more compelling for viewers and we think apps represent the future of TV.”
The glass touch surface of the new Siri Remote simplifies how users select, scroll and navigate through content, responding to small, accurate movements as well as big, sweeping ones. Developers can take advantage of the built-in accelerometer and gyroscope and the touch surface on the Siri Remote to create games and other app experiences.
With Siri, users can speak to search TV shows and movies across multiple sources, such as iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime. Siri also offers playback control and on-screen navigation, as well as quick access to sports, stock and weather information.
The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 9, will be available as a free update for iPhone, iPad & iPod touch users from September 16.
New multitasking features let users view and interact with two apps at once, side by side, either in Slide Over mode, Split View or Picture-in-Picture, whereby users can play video or hold a FaceTime call while also browsing the web, composing email or using other apps. Built-in apps become more powerful with a redesigned Notes app offering new ways to capture ideas, detailed transit information in Maps, and an all-new News app for the best news reading experience on any mobile device.
“With iOS 9 we focused on strengthening the foundation of iOS with a deep focus on quality, and with the help of more than one million users who participated in our first ever public beta program, we’re excited to release the best version of iOS yet,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.
Finally, the Apple Watch has had more of Cupertino’s developer attention lavished upon it, with the software news of watchOS 2 with native apps, new watch faces and Time Travel, accompanied by the hardware news of gold and rose gold aluminium Apple Watch Sport models and a tie-up with luxury brand Hermes to produce special Watch straps.
The watchOS 2 update should make apps faster by running natively on Apple Watch. The update also introduces new watch faces, the ability for third-party apps to display information on the watch face and Time Travel, a way to see future events, past headlines and more. New communication features offer the ability to respond to Mail messages with dictation, Smart Replies or emoji.
More Watch case and wristband colours will also be available, with the myriad permutations of the entire range helpfully laid out online.
“Our customers love Apple Watch and tell us its incredible health and fitness features are having a huge impact on their lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “We’re excited to expand Apple Watch’s functionality with watchOS 2 and offer even more personal choice with beautiful new styles and colors.”
Apple also announced its collaboration with Hermes to produce a luxurious range of leather wristbands for Watch. Prices for the Hermes Watch collection - which will at least include an Apple Watch model with the wristband – start at £1,000.
“Apple and Hermès make very different products, but they reflect the deep appreciation of quality design,” said Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer. “Both companies are motivated by a sincere pursuit of excellence and the desire to create something that is not compromised. Apple Watch Hermès is a true testament to that belief.”
“At Hermès, we strive to provide our clients with elegant, creative and functional objects for their everyday lives,” said Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Hermès’ executive vice president in charge of artistic direction. “What more contemporary and relevant expression of this principle could there be than this collaboration with Apple. We are strongly united by the same deeply held ideas and principles. I see it as the establishment of an alliance in excellence; like horse and carriage, a perfect team.”