Special: Apple October Event Coverage

by on October 16, 2014

I don’t want to sound smug, but today’s Apple event was the first in a long time that I had completely guessed ahead of time (complete with an annoying iMessage to my dad before and after, since he was indirectly following while watching CNBC). That being said, let’s take a look at some of the updates, which all were quite positive.

If you want to watch it yourself, Apple has posted the video.

iOS 8.1

I think Apple knows that iOS 8, while great, had some growing pains and bugs and damaged their reputation of trustworthy updates. Mix that in with needing quite a bit of space on devices to install over-the-air, and the adoption rates have been slower. That being said, it was nice to see Craig Federighi address the “feedback” Apple received and promised that iOS 8.1, due Monday, will fix some issues, and even bring back Camera Roll.

Apple Pay

I’m especially excited about this one, not just because I have an iPhone 6. I’ve always found the American credit card system to be stupidly flawed from a technology standpoint, and although we’re slowly starting to see chip-and-signature use, this may be a great alternative. I use Passbook quite a bit already, so this will be a nice addition baked into Monday’s iOS 8.1 update.

iPad Air 2

I could write a lot about the iPad Air 2, but anyone who guessed that it would be faster, thinner, and include a better camera would be on point. Mix in leaking of information yesterday, and everyone had a pretty good idea of the update. It starts at $499 for 16GB Wi-Fi-only, but then follows the iPhone 6 pricing structure of $100 more for 64GB ($599) and $200 more for 128GB ($699). Needless to say, that 16GB starting point is great for Apple’s margins, but bad for the cheapskates that don’t get the higher-priced model.

There was a lot of time dedicated to the new 8MP camera and Touch ID, both are great changes, but the iPad formula is mostly the same. They did seem to remove the side switch for rotation lock or silent mode.

Needless to say, the iPad Air 2 is a good update and I’m excited about the changes and additional power, giving it even more capabilities for developers to take advantage of.

iPad mini 3

Following the iPad Air’s changes, the iPad mini also goes 16GB/64GB/128GB and is available in gold. It keeps the iPhone 5S/iPad mini 2-style A7 processor and 5MP camera of its predecessor, but also adds Touch ID. Unlike before, the $100 premium for the iPad Air 2 gets you more than just a larger device with a slightly faster processor.

Older iPads

Keeping the iPad mini 2 and original iPad Air around for $100 less is an expected move, and you still get plenty capable devices for a bit less money. The iPad mini 2 vs. iPad mini 3 will be a hard value equation, since the new device doesn’t seem to add that much for $100. Surprisingly, Apple also kept the original iPad mini on the market for $249, meaning the A5 will live on for a bit longer. This also leads me to wonder if the similarly-configured iPad 2 and iPad 3 will also get iOS 9, since Apple usually supports devices that are still being sold—the iPad mini is not much different than those.

OS X Yosemite

I’ve been running the Public Beta since the summer and have been really pleased with the changes and OS X Mavericks seems weird in comparison. That being said, it’s going to take some time for developers to fully take advantage of the new tools and interface. If you want a great review of it, I recommend you read what John Siracusa has to say. Just as with OS X Mavericks, it’s free and available on the Mac App Store today.

Retina iMac

Apple took a 27” iMac, gave it a 5K (5120‑by‑2880) display with some custom hardware to effectively operate it, and slapped a low-for-that-kind-of-display price of $2499. It also comes with a 1TB Fusion Drive standard. Since Apple has already had MacBook Pros with Retina Displays, we sort of know how this is going to work and behave, but the sheer amount of pixels is mind-boggling. My work 21.5” iMac could fit on that display over 4 times. Also, an iMac this powerful makes me question the need for the Mac Pro, but that’s for another article.

Mac mini

This is perhaps my favorite update of the day—it basically gives the Mac mini modern MacBook-style specifications, taking it out of 2012 (Haswell CPU, Intel HD 5000 or Iris graphics, PCIe flash memory). They also dropped the price by $100, starting it at $499. I am surprised it didn’t get a smaller form factor, but it still includes spinning hard drives. It’s a good update for the most underrated product in Apple’s lineup.

What’s Missing

Overall, I was pleased with what Tim Cook & Co. introduced today. The glaring area that was overlooked were the iPods. Although in their current incarnation, the nano and shuffle are more than capable, it’s obvious they’re not Apple’s big focus. As for the iPod touch, an A6 or A7 processor would’ve gone a lone way. As for other updates that didn’t happen, I would’ve liked to see some sort of update to the Apple TV or the current iMacs. The Apple Watch was teased multiple times, as though everyone needed more reminders that it will be available soon. Even though I (as well as most other publications) had an idea of what Apple might introduce today, it still didn’t make it any less exciting. Plus, this gives Apple a very solid holiday lineup.

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