On the March 9th, Apple held its first, and long awaited, keynote of 2015. In addition to the planned announcement of the Apple Watch, rumours of a new MacBook line had been circulating for some time. Here’s Dave Hardy with a brief overview of the keynote, including announcements, prices, and initial impressions:
Apple’s March 2015 event kicked off with Tim Cook once again taking centre stage to give us a brief summary of the success of iPhone 6, Apples latest iPhone model. Boasting statistics of the total iPhone sales figures, along with 99% user satisfaction figure.
Moving on to Apple TV, the price has been slashed to £59 alongside a deal with HBO in the US, showing that Apple certainly hasn’t given up on the small TV streaming box, and hopes to raise its slowly increasing popularity even further.
The MacBook line returns! Claiming to “reinvent” the notebook, Tim Cook carried a new MacBook onto the stage, and asked the audience “can you even see it? I can’t even feel it”. Weighing in at only 2 pounds, and 24% thinner than the MacBook Air, it truly is a magnificently small machine! However, while the size of the computer was minimised wherever possible, Apple went to great lengths to explain how they haven’t sacrificed quality or performance.
The new MacBook is fan-less, sports a full-size backlit keyboard, a sharp and energy efficient Retina Display and ‘all-day’ battery life with a force-sensitive trackpad. The new trackpad allows for users to interact with software in a way unlike ever before, bringing the 3rd dimension to Apple’s already superb gesture controls. “Force clicking” is shown to intelligently emphasise revealing information about items on the screen. For example, force click an address, and the Mac will display its location on maps. You could also force click on the fast forward button while watching a video, while a harder press will result in faster skipping for instance.
There is strong emphasis with this MacBook on wireless connectivity; the new MacBook does away with all ports apart from the exclusion of one USB-C (a new industry standard reversible USB) port. Apple expects users of the MacBook to use adapters for any physical connections they are required to make.
The omission of standard ports such as an HDMI out, or multiple USB ports is reminiscent of the exclusion of an optical drive in the MacBook Air. At the time, consumers thought this was ridiculous, but can anyone actually remember the last time they used a CD or DVD in their laptop? Apple are pushing forward to the future and it is clear they expect us to eventually abandon USB storage — in place of cloud technology — and discard HDMI or “DisplayPort” for wireless screen sharing technologies such as DLNA or Airplay.
The new MacBook certainly gave off a great first impression. However, being both lighter and thinner than the MacBook Air, it leaves some confusion as to the state of Apple’s current product line.
The show then moved away from computing and on to the highly anticipated Apple Watch. Watch, like all other smartwatches, aims on giving information to users at a simple glance. Look down, check the time, skim read a notification, check the weather and carry on with your day. No need to fumble to get your phone out of your pocket.
Apple has added its own twist on the wearable concept with the introduction of health features, “digital touch” (a somewhat gimmicky method of simple Watch to Watch communication), Siri integration, and an open source SDK that allows anyone to develop apps for it. The user interface relies heavily on touch, voice and scrolling using the watches “crown”, which is styled in a similar way to a crown on normal watches.
Tim Cook took the audience through a number of possible day-to-day scenarios where the Watch has the ability to make your life simpler: you can pay for small transactions using Apple Pay, answer a phone call, read, flag or delete emails, even summon a taxi or display your boarding pass for flying, right on your wrist.
The animations seem snappy, and full of customisation options. However, given its size, the app menu seems slightly difficult to navigate. Apple claimed the Watch will last for 18 hours of use, describing it as “all-day” battery life, which is both ironic and somewhat inaccurate.
The Watch range is set to release in three different ranges, “Sport”, “Watch” and “Edition”. The former clocks in at a price range of $349 – $399. While the “Watch” sits in the more expensive range of $549-$1049 (prices only available in dollars at time of writing). And finally, the Watch “Edition”, is produced in limited supply and boasts a solid gold body, set to cost an alarming $10000.
Tim Cook closed the keynote by thanking all the designers at Apple who had a role in designing the new MacBook and Watch, and briefly summarised the day’s announcements.
The Apple Watch releases 24th April and the new MacBook will grace British shores from 10th April.
What did you think of Apple’s March keynote? Will you be looking to pick up any products Apple have shown off? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on everything else Games and Tech, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.