Apple’s highly anticipated event has come and gone. The star of the show was the unveiling of the Apple Watch—the company’s first completely new gadget since Steve Job’s death. In case you missed the 3-hour event and the (seemingly endless) array of video clips we’ve taken the time to boil the whole thing down to the top six things you should know about.
1. Apple Watch launch and pricing
The launch of the Apple Watch went pretty much as we predicted. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook took to the stage to launch Apple’s new wearable gadget. This is his brainchild and the success or failure of the Apple Watch may define Cook’s legacy at Apple. With statements like, “I’ve being wanting to do this since I was 5,” Tim Cook took us through the features of the Apple Watch and how it syncs automatically with the iPhone, receives real-time messages and calls, sets reminders, and more.
The Apple Watch Sport—with an Aluminum body—will retail for $349 as its starting price. There is also a slightly larger version that will be $399. The mid-range Apple Watch has a stainless steel case and costs between $549 and $1,049 depending on the size and band you choose. The 18- karat gold Apple Watch Edition models start at an insanely decadent $10,000 with options that range up to $17,000!
All three editions of the Apple Watch—Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition—will be made available in stores on April 24. You can pre-order one beginning on April 10.
2. iOS 8.2 released
Apple also launched iOS 8.2 at the event. The Apple Watch requires a connection with an iPhone, and the new iOS provides support for the Apple Watch. iOS 8.2 is available for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, 5th gen iPod touch, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, 4th gen iPad, iPad mini, 3rd gen iPad and iPad 2—however the Apple Watch functionality only works with the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, and 6 plus.
Once an Apple Watch has been connected to your iPhone, you’ll be able to use the Apple Watch companion app to browse, buy, and download apps for Apple Watch. iOS 8.2 also includes a variety of stability improvements and bug fixes, as well as updates to the Health app. The iOS 8.2 update is available now.
3. iPhone sales milestone
It’s safe to say that the iPhone 6 and 6 plus have surpassed the sales predictions of many experienced techies, including the marketing staff at Apple. With the astronomical sales of these devices Apple announced it has sold over 700 million phones since the iPhone made its debut in 2007. Riding on the success of the iPhone brand, Apple also posted its biggest profit since its inception—a figure that is also the biggest profit margin by any corporation in history. The company is currently valued at $700 billion with a cash base of $178 billion dollars. Wow. Just wow!
4. New super-thin MacBook announced
Apple shared a major redesign of the MacBook Air—but without the Air. It’s just MacBook. The 12-inch laptop weighs a mere two pounds and is remarkably thin at barely over half an inch thick. The new MacBook hit a small milestone for Apple as the thinnest and lightest notebooks the company has ever made.
The MacBook runs on a less powerful Intel Core M processor, and comes equipped with Intel HD Graphics 5300. It has a Retina display capable of 2304 x 1400 resolution.
There are three things that stand out as unique for the new MacBook. Aside from an audio jack for headphones, the laptop has only one port. It is a USB-C port that is used for charging, USB, and HDMI but requires an additional $80 dongle to be able to do all of those things at once. Apple also brought the iPhone color scheme to the new MacBook—allowing customers to choose between silver, space gray, or gold cases. Finally, the new MacBook comes with Force Touch track pad that is able to sense the amount of pressure being applied. Apple effectively replaced the concept of “right-clicking” with the Force Touch technology.
Perhaps the most shocking news about the MacBook, though, is its price. It starts at $1,299 for a 256GB SSD model, and goes up to $1,599 for a 512GB version. It is a stunningly beautiful feat of engineering, but it is less powerful, offers fewer ports, and has mediocre battery life compared with the 11-inch MacBook Air that starts at only $899. In Apple’s defense, though, an equivalent MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD is actually $1,199 so you’re getting that insanely thin new version with a Retina display and Force Touch trackpad for a $100 premium.
5. HBO Now debuts on Apple TV
Following the lead of Steve Job’s brilliant idea to get major music labels plying their songs via iTunes, Tim Cook signed off on a partnership deal to offer the cord-cutting HBO Now service as an exclusive channel for Apple TV. HBO CEO Richard Pepler took to the stage to announce the deal as well as outline the entertainment benefits Apple TV users will be privy to.
HBO Now is a standalone streaming HBO service that does not require a cable TV subscription. HBO Now will be an Apple TV exclusive for the first three months, and then will be available on other platforms as well. The cost on Apple TV is $14.99 per month.
For those who think this isn’t a big deal, consider the size of the audience for shows like Game of Thrones and classics like The Sopranos or The Wire. That’s a lot of people who may be attracted to HBO Now and might sign up through Apple TV. I also believe this strategic move will not end with HBO. Apple will continue to get other TV giants to debut content on Apple TV.
HBO Now will be available beginning in April.
6. Apple TV price slashed
Apple slashed the price of the Apple TV device by thirty percent—knocking $30 to bring the cost down to just $69. Apple TV hasn’t changed much since its launch in 2007 and faces a rising tide of cheaper competition like Google’s $35 ChromeCast and Amazon’s $39 Fire TV Stick. We’ll see if the combination of a lower price and the exclusive HBO Now partnership are enough to drive demand for Apple TV once again.
So, there you have it. That’s what you missed. That and a number of videos talking about the virtues of aluminum, or stainless steel. Do you plan to pull an all-nighter to get any of these Apple items? Are you one of the rare individuals with so much disposable cash that you won’t mind spending $17,000 on a gadget that will be obsolete in two years? Let us know what you think of the Apple news in the comment box below.
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