What do all the new Apple product releases mean?

Anthony Caruana
11 September, 2015
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A heavily refreshed Apple TV, an iPhone where the only thing that has changed is everything (except the outside!) and a completely new iPad – what does it all mean?

Software is the secret sauce

The various Apple execs that took the stage went to great pains to tell us about faster processors, new ways to deal with noise in high-resolution images and all sorts of other very technical details.

While the speeds and feeds are interesting – it’s the software that makes it all useful.

Apple announced, either loudly or subtly, no fewer than four different operating system releases.

Watch OS2

Watch OS2 will be released next week, on 16 September Pacific Time (17 September in our patch of the planet).

The big ticket change here is the ability to run software directly on the watch. The initial release of Apple Watch seriously dumbed down Apple’s newest platform, making it little more that a terminal for the iPhone. But developers can now create complications, watch faces, messaging apps and all sorts of other tools.

In other words, the Apple Watch becomes a proper computing platform next week.

iOS 9

We’ve already looked at iOS 9‘s new features online and in the print copy of Macworld Australia. Suffice to say, this release continues to add new features and functions – many of which will only be usable if you spring for a new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus .

The new Peek and Pop gestures look interesting and the ability to carry out common actions by using the new 3D Touch system changes smartphone usability.

In short, the combination of iOS9 and the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will have sent shudders through the ranks of Samsung and Google, as Android will be playing a big game of catch-up over the coming months.

tvOS

We’ve been waiting for this for some time but, finally, apps are coming to the Apple TV.

Like iOS 9 and the iPhone, tvOS and the new Apple TV is a potential game changer for the digital loungeoom.

While the crowd during yesterday’s special event swooned and gushed at the new remote control and ability to use Siri to control your TV, the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will be a little less secure today as they contemplate what Apple could do to their markets.

The new Apple TV costs about half as much as most gaming consoles and can manage media far more elegantly. The new tvOS SDK, which most iOS developers will instantly be able to leverage, will deliver a slew of applications that we can’t even imagine.

Business, education, gaming… there’s not a use-case or scenario that won’t be targeted.

We won’t see tvOS in action until November when the new Apple TV hits the stores. And, it won’t run on older Apple TVs.

OS X El Capitan

A couple of week after we update out iOS and Apple Watch devices we’ll need to fire up our updaters for the new version of OS X – dubbed El Capitan.

We won’t say too much here as the software has been in public beta for many weeks, other than to say it’s a significant release, even if Apple isn’t making a big deal about it.

All the new software announced by Apple or set for imminent release continues Apple’s grand plan to integrate every aspect of your life. While Apple may have lost the battle for the desktop during the operating system war of the 80s and 90s, they are winning the war for the rest of your life.

In addition to the four new software releases we heard about yesterday, Apple released two significant new products and a couple of minor facelifts.

The small fish

The iPad mini 4 and new Apple Watch Hermès collection didn’t get a whole lot of attention yesterday – and that was about the right amount.

The iPad mini 4 received a speed bump, courtesy of a heart transplant. It gets an A8X processor, but is otherwise the same device.

The new Apple Watch collection adds some new case and band options, but under the covers it’s the same as the hardware released earlier this year. Which is a good thing as new hardware released so soon after the initial release would have caused significant customer outcry.

The big fish

The three big product releases were the iPad Pro, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and the Apple TV.

The iPad Pro may have been in development for some time – the new Apple Pencil accessory, pressure sensitive screen technology and upgrade display aren’t created in a knee-jerk way. But we can’t help feeling that the success of the Surface Pro, which has been displacing the iPad in many schools and capturing enterprise sales, forced Apple’s hand.

It seems to be the same sort of market-driven product development that delivered larger iPhones a year ago.

The new iPhones might look the same on the outside but, unlike most iPhone ‘s’ releases, look to be worth considering. 3D Touch, improved cameras, faster processors, a new Touch ID sensor and haptic feedback suggest this is basically an all new model in old clothes – a bit like fitting a Porsche engine into a Yaris – well, perhaps not a Yaris, but you get the picture.

Although we’re running with an iPhone 6, we’re thinking an iPhone 6s is definitely on the cards.

Apple’s hobby project has become a bona fide member of the family. The new Apple TV includes inbuilt storage (just like version one did!) and the new controller, that uses Bluetooth to connect to the Apple TV, includes accelerometers and gyroscopes so it can be used for gaming and other apps.

Although we’ve also begun using a Chromecast for one TV (as it’s a cheap option for getting Netflix and YouTube onto a second TV), we’re rusted on Apple TV users. So there’s little doubt a new Apple TV won’t become part of our lounge room setup.

In fact, if video playback apps that support non-Apple formats and support DLNA make it to the Apple TV App Store then we may clear a gaming console out.

In short, this week’s product announcement was a big deal. The Apple share price dropped a couple of percent following the announcements, but it’s hard to know what the stock market is thinking or reacting to. With the iPad Pro and new Apple TV not hitting the market until November, we won’t really know their impact on Apple’s business until pre-orders open and sales commence.

But it’s our view that the new hardware and software represent significant steps forward.

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