It’s been way too long, joked Apple, since any groundbreaking announcements like the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 Plus. While the product refreshes announced at today’s iPad-centric event aren’t as high on “wow” as the revelations during last month’s big show, these are solid updates to product lines that continue to make Apple great.
Here are the top 12 things you need to know from today’s Apple event.
The iPhone 6 was “the biggest iPhone launch ever”: Tim Cook called the iPhone 6 the “fastest-selling iPhone in history.” While he didn’t provide any numbers, he said the latest iPhones have racked up the most first-month orders ever and pointed out it will be in 32 countries by the end of the week — including China, where it will work on all three of the country’s networks for the first time ever. The iPhone 6 set a “new high-water mark for the most orders taken,” Cook said, “and I don’t mean by a little — by a lot. A whole lot!”
Stephen Colbert is Apple’s new “chief of secrecy”: In the event’s best bit, Craig Federighi demonstrated the awesome power of Continuity by phoning Stephen Colbert, who he called Apple’s new head of secrecy. Colbert demanded that they talk in code. “Hello, Red Delicious,” Federighi said. “This is Granny Smith. Over.” It was a pretty hilarious way of putting a positive spin on all the recent security-related headlines about Apple, from the Fappening to Cupertino’s move to make data unavailable to police. In the end, Colbert got off the event’s best line: “Get back to work,” he told Federighi. “Because you know what I see when I look at my wrist? My wrist. Where’s the watch?” (P.S. Tim Cook’s code name? “Chairman Honeycrisp.”)
Apple shows off its funny side: The humor today was thick, with Craig Federighi calling new “head secrecy emperor” Stephen Colbert from a Macintosh, introducing a third-party keyboard that lets you speak Klingon in your iMessages, and a skit where Eddy Cue gets rejected from a secret lab deep in Apple headquarters because he doesn’t know the ridiculous handshake. Are these too self indulgent? Perhaps, but it’s good to see a company that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
OS X Yosemite is now available, for free: We’ve been hearing about all the cool new features of the Macintosh operating system Yosemite for a while now, and Federighi went through a quick recap, talking through new notification, search and sharing from apps features, as well as Safari’s new tab view, named group chats, photo sharing, a new shelf for recent items in iTunes, and cool new text effects in Keynote, just to name a few things. He even got off a quick jab at Microsoft with the announcement of iCloud Drive on Windows.
iOS 8.1 will be available on Monday: The latest, greatest mobile operating system sheds its growing pains with a release of a full dot-number version on Monday: iOS 8.1. This update will finalize all the cool things iOS 8 already does, polish up the Continuity and Handoff features to work better than ever with OS X Yosemite, and taking advantage of all the latest mobile tech, like faster Wi-Fi, Bluetooth low energy, AirDrop between Mac and iOS devices, and the ability to send Airplay streams to your TV without a Wi-Fi network.
Taking over the world, one wallet and bank at a time: ApplePay & Touch ID comes to iPad, which, according to Phil Schiller, was the most requested feature for iPad. Touch ID will unlock the iPad Air 2 as well as work in specific apps, but you’ll only be able to use Apple Pay to make app and media purchases, though, since no mention was made of NFC in the new iPad Air 2. This is a good thing, because it’s bad enough that people use iPads to take pictures with — imagine waiting for the guy in front of you to pay for his latte with an iPad.
The iPad Air 2 is the thinnest iPad ever, and now comes in gold: The video Cook showed to unveil the latest iPad continued the “thin as a pencil” conceit from earlier iPad models, only this time, a laser beam shaved off the top bit of the pencil to demonstrate just how much thinner the new iPad Air 2 is. At 6.1mm thin, it’s the thinnest tablet out there: 18% thinner than iPad Air, which was 20% thinner than iPad 4. It’s till got the 10+ hour battery life to boast of, though, along with the A8X and M8 chips and brand new higher-end camera inside of it. Crazy thin, and you can get it in gold along with space gray and silver.
iPad Air 2 is now a great camera with the biggest view screen ever: A big deal was made of the new cameras on the thin new tablet as well. The rear facing camera is now an 8 megapixel iSight camera with 1.12-micron pixels and an aperture of 2.4. This camera, in conjunction with the A8X processor, will let you shoot 1080p home video along with capturing time lapse and slow motion videos for the first time on an iPad. The still camera will also let you capture photos with burst mode and grab stunningly high resolution panorama photos, too. The FaceTime camera gets an upgrade as well, with an all new sensor and aperture that lets in 81% more light. Now you can get more face detection, burst-mode for selfies (“All the kids do this,” promised Schiller), and single shot HDR and HDR video. Suddenly that woman taking photos at the Grand Canyon with her iPad doesn’t look so crazy.
The iPad mini 3 is available: The new mini iPad was almost not worth mentioning, it seemed, as Schiller rushed through a quick beat about the new iPad mini 3 with Retina display. This new tiny powerhouse packs a 5 megapixel iSight camera, lets you shoot 1080p HD video recording, while still running a FaceTime HD camera on the front. It’s also gotten faster 802.11n with MIMO Wi-Fi and Touch ID, which we assume will work with Apple Pay the same as its larger brethren.
iMac goes big and thin with industry-defying 5K Retina Display: The new iMac display is so ground-breaking that the Apple development team had to invent several new technologies like a timing controller, Oxide TFT, Organic passivation, and seriously power-efficient LEDs that use 30% less energy than previous ones. The new iMac is so densely packed with pixels– a stunning 14.7 million of them — that a 1080p HDTV (now with 67% less pixels than the iMac) looks paltry in comparison. All of this in a five millimeter thin casing that also includes a 3.5 GHz quad-core i5 processor, Thunderbolt 2 ports, and terabytes of storage with a new Fusion drive. That would be impressive at any price, but the new iMac starts at a super-friendly $2499.
Mac Mini gets a well-deserved upgrade: The underrated but highly useful Mac Mini gets a 4th generation today, with an Intel core processor, Intel Iris or HD Graphics 5000 chip, faster PCIe-based flash storage, now one but two Thundrbolt ports, faster 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and a $100 price drop to start at $499.
Let there be WatchKit: Cook unveiled WatchKit, the developer framework that will roll out next month and let devs build useful apps for Apple’s upcoming wearable. “Apple Watch will be shipping early next year,” Cook said, “and every day I look forward to that day.” Like, every day.
Additional reporting by Lewis Wallace