Apple launches new MacBook, Apple Watch and ResearchKit

Jonathan Stewart
10 March, 2015
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Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage this morning to reveal further details on the Apple Watch, including shipping dates and pricing, a new MacBook and ResearchKit, to a packed house at the Yerba Buena Centre in San Francisco.

Cook began the launch event with the Apple TV, dropping the price in the US from US$99 to $69. However, it seems the price drop hasn’t reached Australia with the Apple TV remaining at $109.

That wasn’t the only news for the Apple TV; Cook also announced an exclusive deal with HBO for a new streaming service called HBO Now. Whether the service comes to Australia is yet to be announced.

Apple also had a series of numbers to share. Cook says the company has sold its 700 millionth iPhone, with a significant 49 percent year-on-year growth last quarter – a number twice that of the rest of the industry.

Apple Pay may be only in the US currently, but Apple is also making progress in its payment sector. The service now supports 2500 US banks, up from six banks at launch, and 700 thousand store locations – triple the number it was at launch.

CarPlay? All is looking swell for Apple’s in-car entertainment system according to Cook, with “every major car brand” committing to delivering CarPlay, with 40 new models to ship in 2015.

MacBook

Apple has a new MacBook to share with the world, and it has broken a couple of the company’s records. The new MacBook is 24 percent thinner than the previous 11in MacBook Air at 13.1mm at its thickest point and is the lightest Mac ever.

The new laptop has a 12in Retina display with an all-metal enclosure, integrated antennas and a new, redesigned, full-size keyboard. Apple has done away with the standard scissor mechanism beneath each key for a butterfly mechanism that Apple believes is four times more stable and 40 percent thinner. The lights under the keys have changed as well. Each individual key has its own LED light.

 

The Retina display is protected by edge-to-edge glass, the panel measures 0.88mm, making it the thinnest Mac display ever and the screen packs in a 2304 x 1440 resolution.

The trackpad has seen an overhaul as well. Apple has taken away the usual trackpad-flex you feel when you click in different areas of the pad. The Force Touch trackpad has force sensors and a taptic engine, similar to the Apple Watch, which means the trackpad will feel the same in all corners of the pad.

“Apple has reinvented the notebook with the new MacBook, and at just 920g and 13.1mm, it’s the thinnest and lightest Mac ever,” said Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, Philip Schiller. “Every component of the MacBook reveals a new innovation. From its fanless design, ultra-thin Retina display and full-size keyboard that’s 34 percent thinner, to its all-new Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and breakthrough terraced battery design, the new MacBook is the future of the notebook.”

The MacBook has a new logic board that’s 67 percent smaller than previous versions and a nine-hour battery life for web browsing, with an extra hour for iTunes movie playback.

The MacBook comes in gold, silver and space grey, and is available from 10 April with a 1.1GHz chip, Intel HD graphics 5300, 8GB memory and 256GB SSD for $1799. Users will be able to bump up the processor and double the storage for $2199.

The MacBook Air has also been updated with fifth-generation processors and the 13in MacBook Pro has received faster processors, updated flash and more battery life, as well as the same Force Touch trackpad as in the 12in MacBook.

“Today the popular 13in MacBook Pro with Retina display, 11in MacBook Air and 13in MacBook Air all received significant upgrades,” said Schiller. “The 13in MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest processors, more powerful graphics, faster flash, longer battery life and the all-new Force Touch trackpad. We’re also bringing the latest processors and graphics, and faster Thunderbolt 2 to the 11in and 13in MacBook Air, as well as up to two times faster flash to the 13in MacBook Air.”

Both are shipping now.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch will arrive on 24 April, with a pre-order date set from 10 April. The event revealed further details and more clarity about Apple’s smartwatch.

With Glances, the Apple Watch allows users to check the things they frequently seek. Swiping from the bottom of the display enables users to see weather data and calendar information, control music and check their current heart rate.

For communications, the taptic engine taps your wrist when a message is received, a built-in speaker and mic allow users to make phone calls, and full emails can be read. Two Apple Watch users can communicate via Digital Touch, either sending a sketch or tapping it to get their attention.

“Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology and we think our customers are going to love it,” said Cook. “We can’t wait for people to start wearing Apple Watch to easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before.”

Aided by Christy Turlington Burns, one of Time magazine’s Top 100 most influential people, a model, mother, adviser to Harvard School of Public Health and founder of the Every Mother Counts charity, Apple showed off the features for fitness-focused individuals. The Apple Watch provides real-time metrics such as calories burned, distance and time.

The Apple Watch is also handy in the other parts of your life – you can see what’s trending on Twitter, your airline boarding pass, your calendar and sports scores. Users can communicate with their watch via Siri and pay for goods and services with Apple Pay.

The Apple Watch features both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, meaning users do not have to be within Bluetooth range of their iPhone when at home to use its features.

The Apple Watch will have its own iPhone app, containing the Apple Watch App Store. All apps are downloaded and controlled via an iPhone with iOS 8.2, which is available today.

The battery life will reach 18 hours, according to Cook, and is recharged via a magnetic charger that snaps onto the back of the watch.

The watch ships in three collections, in either 38mm or 42mm in size. The cheapest, the Apple Watch Sport, features anodised aluminium, silver or space grey with a colourful fluoroelastomer band. The Watch Sport is designed to withstand dings and scratches and starts at $499.

The $799 Apple Watch can ship with a sport band, Milanese loop or link bracelet and comes in either stainless steel traditional (silver) or space black.

The most expensive in the range is the Apple Watch Edition, a wearable device that starts at $10,000. The watch is made from solid 18-carat gold, along with the clasps and buckles.

The Apple Watch will require an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 or 6 Plus running iOS 8.2. Pre-orders begin from 10 April.

ResearchKit

Apple is turning its eye to medical research with the open source ResearchKit, a new way for research studies to connect with people via the iPhone. The iOS app platform allows all iPhone users to aid in medical research with their HealthKit data, and Apple already has five apps available today covering research into such areas as Parkinson’s, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes.

“iOS apps already help millions of customers track and improve their health. With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research,” said Apple’s senior vice president of Operations, Jeff Williams. “ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before.”

Addressing privacy concerns, Apple confirmed it will not see any collected data and the user is able to decide how and if they participate and how to share any information collected. ResearchKit itself will launch next month.

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