From the iPhone to the iPad to the Apple TV, Cupertino’s constellation of magical devices just got a little more magical.
Did you expect all that Apple goodness? Most of what we heard today already churned through the rumor mill: the plus-size iPad Pro; new Apple Watch finishes and bands; a refreshed Apple TV with games, apps and Siri functionality. And, oh yeah, the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with a whole new level of Force Touch, called 3D Touch.
There were even a few surprises, like the iPad Pro’s new Smart Keyboard and the iPad stylus, dubbed the Apple Pencil. But throughout today’s keynote by Tim Cook and his lieutenants, the series of under-the-hood upgrades they revealed promise to push all Apple products forward into the future.
Let’s take a moment to boil down all two hours and 10 minutes of this incredibly dense and surprisingly succinct Apple event.
Apple Watch gets more fashionable
The Apple Watch got more watch bands, including some great leather ones from third-party makers. In addition, two new aluminum Sport models will be available in rose gold and regular gold colors. With the extra finishes, and a selection of bands that are both bolder and more subtle, you’ll be able to really customize the look of your Apple Watch.
The new watchOS 2 allows an unprecedented amount of direct control via apps, like the demoed Facebook Messenger, iTranslate (real-time language translation right on the Apple Watch), a GoPro watch app that functions as a viewfinder, and a new medical app that shows live heart-rate stats for everyone, including pregnant mothers and their babies.
iPad goes pro
The iPad Pro was as sexy as anticipated, with a 12.9-inch screen so large that you can set the screen of an iPad Air 2 in portrait across the left-hand side of an iPad Pro in landscape. There are 2,732 by 2,048 pixels for a total of 5.6 million, delivering more pixels than even a 15-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display. There’s an A9X chip inside, which is 1.8 times faster than the previous chip in the iPad Air 2.
“This is desktop-class performance,” said Phil Schiller.
iPad accessories: Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard
There’s a new stylus in town and it’s called the Apple Pencil. Priced at $99, it uses Force data to become the best drawing tool you’ve ever used with an iPad. Apple Pencil might be a goofy name, even a bit pretentious, but it looks amazing: It’s powered by its own built-in Lightning port, just under where the eraser would be on a regular pencil.
A new Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro will be powered by a little Smart Port (meaning you can say goodbye to Bluetooth pairing woes). It will cost $169.
Apple TV disrupts the living room
The new Apple TV, available in October of this year, will cost you $149 for a version with 32GB of flash storage or $199 for a 64G version. It will have its own App Store and a new touch- and voice-enabled remote with an accelerometer and gyroscope, which make Wii-style games a reality on Apple’s set-top box. Looking for a gaming console for your kids? Why not get a $150 one that does what Nintendo’s does?
Universal search ensures you’ll never have to jump into Netflix, Hulu, HBO or Showtime to find what you want to see again: Siri will look across multiple services and apps to get you to what you want. The future of TV is in those very apps, and we saw some amazing demos of the actual user interface itself (love those shaky new icons). Games like Crossy Road and Beat Sports, a new MLB experience, and a discount shopping app from Gilt mean new experiences on your big screen. Based on iOS, tvOS will power all these new apps, and it’s available for developers now.
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus: better, faster
We knew iPhone upgrades would be announced at this event, but we were taken a bit aback by the possibilities when Phil Schiller showed off the new touch system, 3D Touch, which will add another bit of pressure sensitivity. Now you can tap, press lightly or press hard to get different effects. On the Home screen, you’ll get new contextual menus, like “take a selfie” on the Camera app icon.
There’s a new A9 chip on the iPhone 6s handsets, with a built-in, always-on M9 chip. With the new phones, you’ll be able to say, “Hey Siri,” whenever you want — whether the phone is plugged in or not. She’s always available, and, as Schiller said, “Siri’s definitely sassy.”
Apple’s taking another path with purchasing these new devices, too, offering its own pricing plan that competes with the carrier’s own. For $32 a month, jsut a bit more than, say, AT&T’s own plan, you get the iPhone 6s, an annual upgrade, and Apple Care+, something you won’t find at your carrier.