Special: Apple Updates Nearly Everything Else

by on October 23, 2012

Earlier today, Apple held an event at the California Theater in San Jose where they introduced the iPad junior mini, a new full-size iPad, a 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display, new iMac, new Mac mini, and a new version of iBooks. Everything today complements last month’s iPhone and iPod event to have Apple ready to go for the holiday season.

Live Stream

This Apple event was streamed live, possibly to experiment and showcase the ability to stream live content to the Apple TV and on browsers on other devices. A new Apple Events channel appeared on the Apple TV this morning, although you may have had to restart to see it.

Facts and Figures

One amazing fact is that iOS 6 is already running on over 200 million devices, making it the fastest software upgrade rate ever. There have also been over 300 billion iMessages sent since last year (28,000 per second). There are over 700,000 apps in the App Store and 275,000 iPad-specific apps, with 35 billion apps downloaded since the store opened in 2008.

iBooks

With over 1.5 million books on the iBookstore, and 400 million downloaded, Apple has made some updates. One change is continuous scrolling (where the book acts as a really long document). There is an iOS 6-style share sheet and iCloud integration. More languages have been added, including Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. It is available today.

Mac Updates

13 inch Retina MacBook Pro

First, we got to see a 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display, to complement June’s 15″ model. It’s 0.75″ thick (20% thinner), and 3.57 lbs (1 lb lighter). Much like the 15″ model, there isn’t an optical drive, and includes two USB prots, two Thunderbolt ports, a headphone jack, and a HDMI port. The resolution on the display is now 2560×1600, which is 4x that of the prior model. It also features some other familiar specifications, including the Intel dual-core Core i5/i7 “Ivy Bridge” processors, Intel HD Graphics 4000, 8GB RAM, a battery (well, batteries) rated at 7 hours, and flash storage up to 768GB. Other standard features include a FaceTime HD camera, backlit keyboard, glass trackpad, and dual microphones. It starts at $1699 (2.5GHz i5, 128GB). It will ship today.

Second, the Mac mini got an update to bring it in line with Apple’s other offerings, including USB 3, Intel dual- or quad-core Core i5/i7 “Ivy Bridge” processors, Intel HD Graphics 4000, up to 1TB hard drive or 256GB SSD, up to 16GB RAM, and Bluetooth 4.0. Pricing starts at $599 (2.5GHz dual-core i5, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive), with a server model selling for $999 (2.3GHz quad-core Core i7, 4GB RAM, 2 1TB hard drives). These are available today, as well.

iMac

To round out the Mac updates, the iMac received a complete redesign, keeping the aluminum and glass slab design, but tapering the edges to be thinner, much like the original iPad. A new manufacturing technique, known as friction stir welding, is used to attach the back to the front to be seamless. The display is now laminated to the glass, much like iOS devices, making the display thinner. The iMac also loses the internal optical drive, moving the SD card reader to the back with the other ports.

The iMac now includes Intel quad-core Core i5/i7 “Ivy Bridge” processors, NVIDIA Kepler graphics, up to 768GB flash, up to 3TB hard drive, and up to 32GB RAM. There are four USB 3 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, gigabit Ethernet around back. The 21.5″ iMac starts at $1299 (2.7GHz i5, 8GB RAM, GeForce GT 640M, 1TB HDD) and ships in November, while the 27″ iMac starts at $1799 (2.9GHz i5, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 660M, 1TB HDD) and ships in December.

Sadly, the Mac Pro has been ignored for another round of updates.

Fusion Drive

Offered as an option for the iMac and Mac mini, there is a new item, known as a Fusion Drive. This combines a 128GB flash drive and a 1TB or 3TB hard drive that the OS treats as one unit. The operating system and preinstalled applications are on the flash drive and the hard drive is used for installed applications and files. Once you start using things, more frequently used items are moved to the flash drive, and less frequently used items are moved to the hard drive.

iPad Updates

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company sold its 100 millionth iPad two weeks ago. Apple sold more iPads in the June quarter than any PC manufacturer sold of their lineup. The iPad has about 91% of the Web browsing share for tablets. 94% of companies in the Fortune 500 are using iPads.

The third-generation iPad was replaced after only seven months on the market with a model featuring an A6X processor (A6 with some extra graphics power) and a Lightning connector. While this may sting for some who just bought a new iPad, it makes sense for Apple to bring it in line with its other major offerings. The A6X processor doubles the CPU and graphics performance from the A5X. Other changes include a FaceTime HD camera (720p) on the front, faster Wi-Fi, more LTE bands for better worldwide compatibility (on the cellular model). Pricing and configurations are the same as the prior model ($499/16GB, $599/32GB, $699/64GB, cellular $130 more). Preorders start this Friday, with Wi-Fi-only models shipping on November 2, and cellular models shipping about two weeks after that.

iPad mini

Apple also released a smaller iPad, known as the iPad mini. It packs similar technology in a smaller enclosure, featuring a 1024×768 7.9″ screen. The design is much more like an oversized fifth-generation iPod touch, including tinted anodized aluminum on the black model. It’s 7.2mm thick and 0.68 lbs (about the same as a pad of paper). The hardware is much like the iPad 2, including a dual-core A5 processor, FaceTime HD camera, a 5MP iSight (back) camera, 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, and optional LTE (like that on the fourth-generation iPad). Battery life is advertised at 10 hours. Pricing is similar to the other iPads, starting at $329 ($329/16GB, $429/32GB, $529/64GB), with the cellular models selling for $130 more. Ship dates are the same as the fourth-generation iPad.

The iPad mini now features an optional smaller Smart Cover, with only three panels instead of four, and a simpler magnetic attachment that does away with the separate aluminum spiral.

The iPad 2 will still stick around for $399 for a 16GB model, or $529 for a 16GB model with a 3G cellular radio, if 30-pin Dock Connectors, awful rear cameras, or 1024×768 9.7″ displays are your thing. Third-generation iPad users should be happy that A5 processors should be supported for quite awhile, and they have one of Apple’s short-lived odd-duck models, like the aluminum, unibody, non-Pro MacBook.

Finally, Apple also introduced new adapters for Lightning to USB, Lightning to SD card, Lightning to VGA ($49), and Lightning to HDMI ($49). The iPad AC adapter has also received an update, bumping its output to 12 watts, up from 10. This should help speed up charging on all devices.

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