Posts with tag Apple Watch
Oh, this is gonna be big
Apple is a company of patterns. If you look at the release schedule of every major release of nearly every product line, things go off like clockwork. The Calendar strikes June; it’s time to announce the latest operating systems, while September has traditionally brought us new iPhones (and, as of last year, the Apple Watch), and October brings along new Macs and iPads. Take a break for the Christmas season, rinse, repeat.
And yet, if the rumors hold up, this year will go just a tiny bit different – instead of having two separate September and October events, Apple appears to be combining aspects of both into one mega event where they are set to introduce both iPhones and iPads, and even Apple Watch accessories. This “mega-event,” as I’m calling it, is currently scheduled for September 9th – Next Wednesday – and could very well shape up to be one of the most important days in the history of Modern Apple.
But a large event brings about a large amount of FUD, so it’s more important than ever to set expectations well, especially if you’re in the market for some new tech. So to that end, let’s make some sense of the madness and figure out what you can realistically expect.
1) A new iPhone has made its introduction every September since the iPhone 4S in 2011, and all signs are pointing to this year being no different. Apple has been on a tick-tock cycle with their iPhone lineup for years now, a tick being major design changes and a tock being major internal changes, and this year we’re scheduled for a tock release – something that most people have, for good reason, taken to calling the iPhone 6s.
So, what’s that entail? First, like the iPhone 6 last year, the iPhone 6s will not be one phone, instead actually being two phones of two radically different sizes. It’s safe to expect that both of these phones will come in the same sizes as last year’s phones – the 4.7 inch iPhone 6s, and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6s Plus (or whatever they decide to call it). Both of these phones will likely share incredibly similar, or exactly the same, internals with screen size and resolution being the primary differentiator. Last year’s iPhone 6 Plus did have a slightly better camera than the smaller iPhone 6 due to the inclusion of OIS (optical image stabilization), but it’s unclear if the iPhone 6s lineup will follow suit.
Since the iPhone 6s family is expected to share the same design as the iPhone 6 family, Apple has other tricks up its sleeves to help differentiate this year’s iPhone from last year’s. The most outwardly apparent change will likely come from a new color option – Rose Gold. Though we haven’t seen any parts leak from the supply chain with this color, a Rose Gold iPhone does make sense for two pretty simple reasons. Apple’s M.O. has been to keep their iOS device color options in relative sync, and since Apple this year introduced a Rose Gold Apple Watch, it would make sense to bring this color option to the rest of the lineup. Secondly, Apple used the iPhone 5s to introduce two new color options to help differentiate it from the prior year’s iPhone 5 – Space Gray and Gold. It stands to reason Apple would do the same this year.
But if upgraded internals and new color options are all you’re expecting, you’re underprepared. Apple is heavily rumored to be introducing one of the biggest changes to the iOS paradigm since the original iPhone in 2007 – Force Touch.
Every iPhone since the original 2007 model has had two primary touch methods: taps, and long taps. A long tap on a button may do one thing, such as open an application, while a long tap on an application will initiate the shaky-mode that lets you delete applications. With Force Touch on the iPhone 6s, you’ll be able to actually touch and apply pressure on a button to initiate a third function, whatever that may be.
Rumors on how iOS 9 will make use of Force Touch have been sparse, but I think the best guess may be that a Force Touch will bring up a context menu of sorts, similar to how Force Touch works on the Apple Watch. Force Touching on the Phone app on the home screen, for example, may bring up a menu that lets you immediately call a favorite contact, saving you valuable time by not even requiring you to open the application and navigate the UX to initiate a call. I could see Force Touch on the iPhone being the ultimate implementation of the feature, far surpassing its use case on either the Apple Watch or the Mac – done right, it could someday soon feel as fundamental to the core iPhone experience as third party applications do today.
Quick aside – you may notice that I’ve made no mention of the mythical iPhone 6c, a much rumored third model with iPhone 6 or 6s internals but a 4.0-inch display. It seems likely that the iPhone 6c did exist in some capacity at some point, but it also seems likely that it’s dead, Jim.
2) Again, it certainly seems that Apple is preparing to break from tradition and introduce not just the iPhone 6s, but also the new iPad lineup on Wednesday. My theory for this is thus – smartphones are boring. Last year, Apple used the iPhone 6 event to introduce the Apple Watch, an admission that the iPhone on its own is no longer a big enough deal to warrant its own event. With no major revision to the core Apple Watch hardware on the docket for this year, Apple is likewise using the iPad to pad out the iPhone 6s event this year.
While the iPad line has been faltering lately, Apple is going to give it a much needed kick in the ass with the first major shakeup to the iPad line since the original iPad mini in 2012 – the introduction of the oft rumored iPad Pro. While the iPad has always been accused of being a consumption device, with the iPad Pro Apple is looking to flip that stereotype on its head by making the iPad Pro a content creator’s dream.
As for how it’s going to do that, well, I have one word – one dirty word that Steve Jobs would have cringed at, laughed at, mocked, but this isn’t Steve Jobs’s Apple anymore and life goes on – a stylus. Yup, all signs have been pointing to the iPad Pro making extensive use of a presumably bundled “Apple Stylus” for quite some time now, in a move that has already been and will continue to draw parallels to Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of tablets. Of course, styli for iOS devices are nothing new, and many-a premium styli have existed for quite some time now. The defining feature of Apple’s contribution will be, of course, extensive integration into the core of iOS 9 itself. Expect most of Apple’s bundled application to make use of the stylus in some way, from pressure sensitivity to handwriting recognition, and more.
The iPad Pro will supposedly have numerous other benefits/changes from Apple’s existing iPad line. For one, the iPad Pro will be big – likely around 13-inches, up from the little under 10-inches that the iPad Air 2 sits at. A larger screen, of course, will require a larger resolution, and code found tucked away in current beta versions of iOS 9 point to a 2732 x 2048 resolution with a 265 ppi being a likely candidate. Given the supposed focus on productivity, I would also expect significant updates to all of Apple’s “iLife” and “iWork” apps for the iPad, including iMovie and Garageband. If all of this works out, I could also easily see Apple bringing Final Cut Pro X and Logic X to the iPad Pro.
Aside from the iPad Pro, Apple will likely look to upgrade the most neglected part of their iPad lineup, the iPad mini. A fourth-generation iPad mini will likely be announced, bringing it in line with the iPad Air 2 spec wise with the A8 processor, more RAM, and full multitasking support on iOS 9.
On top of the internal changes, supply chain leaks have indicated that the iPad mini 4 will also have a slightly thinner, redesigned aluminum shell. Still, this will be relatively minor and will mostly just ape what Apple introduced alongside the iPad Air 2 last year. All in all, don’t expect anything huge – the iPad mini 4 will, essentially, be what the totally lackluster iPad mini 3 should have been last year.
3) While the iPad mini is certainly one of the most neglected products on Apple’s lineup, absolutely nothing can rival the level of neglect that the Apple TV has gotten since its introduction in 2007. We’re nearing a decade since the release of that original version, and the Apple TV we all know and kind-of-tolerate-at-best is only the third major revision in the entire history of the product line – and honestly really only the second, considering how minor an upgrade the 3rd Generation was.
All of that is about to change. Apple has often dubbed the Apple TV a “hobby,” but come next Wednesday it will officially be a hobby no longer. The Apple TV is due for a massive upgrade, both internally and externally, and will mark a complete change in the way that Apple views the television.
According to rumor, Apple has completely rethought the very underpinnings of the device, bringing it in line with Apple’s modern iOS devices. And as a modern iOS device, the Apple TV will be transformed into a full blown platform – complete with a software development kit. While Apple had provided partners with a private, extremely limited SDK for the existing Apple TV, developers were hand picked by Apple and were extremely limited in what their applications could do and how they could look. No more: if you believe the little birdies’ chirps, we’re talking a full blown SDK that will make developing complex applications and highly advanced games a real possibility.
That’s right – I said games. While Apple isn’t focusing on rivaling the Xbox and the PlayStation any time soon (sorry, Cult of Mac), rumors suggest that Apple will be incorporating complex gaming support into the core of the Apple TV, taking advantage of the latest version of Metal (roughly equivalent to DirectX on Windows) found on iOS 9. Developers should be able to take full advantage of the Apple TV’s new remote, which will feature a small trackpad, two dedicated buttons, and motion control support, enabling games that could capture the hearts and minds of the “softcore” gaming crowd in the same way that the Nintendo Wii did back in 2006, and that the iPhone and iPad have today.
One of the best features of the Amazon Fire TV has to be the built in microphone support, and Apple will apparently be “borrowing” this fantastic idea for use in the next generation Apple TV. If reports are to be believed, Siri is about to get a huge boost in the form of extensive knowledge about movie, television, and game content. Simply activate Siri on the Apple TV, say “I want to watch Boy Meets Girl” (because who wouldn’t want to watch Boy Meets Girl?), and Apple TV will automagically figure out where you can watch – whether that be on the iTunes Store, Netflix, Disney, whatever.
It’s hard to overstate how fundamental this change is. Back when there were only a handful of television channels on the air it was a lot easier to keep track of what station was home to what programming. But in today’s world with literally hundreds to thousands of sources of quality entertainment, the old “channel” model – which the current generation Apple TV so heavily relies on – is completely broken.
For example, I’ve watched “Mr. Robot” weekly since the show (which is fantastic, by the way) started earlier this summer, but not once have I paid any mind as to what channel that show is actually on. Why would I? To me, Mr. Robot is a show that I can play on Xfinity On Demand. To watch Mr. Robot on the Apple TV today, I would need to go find what channel Mr. Robot actually plays on (USA Network, apparently), find the USA Network app on the home screen if there even is one, and if not wade through the other Apple TV apps to figure out if it may be anywhere else. All of that will soon be solved with a simple “Hey Siri, watch Mr. Robot.”
In the eyes of the modern television viewer, the “channel” has been relegated to the technological dustbin of the twenty-first century, and Siri on the Apple TV will make this all the more obvious.
4) Don’t worry Apple Watch, we didn’t forget about you! Even though the Apple Watch is by far the freshest mobile product in Apple’s lineup, it too will get just a little bit of love next week in the form of some new configurations and accessories. Trustworthy little birdies suggest that Apple will be releasing a new Apple Watch Sport model featuring the Watch’s signature 7000 series aluminum anodized gold, just like the iPhone and the iPad (not to be confused with the 17-carot gold found in the $10,000+ Apple Watch Edition).
Coming along for the ride will also likely include new color options for the Sport Bands, which are said to be deeper and richer in color than the current neon offerings, including a Product (RED) Sport Band. While this will be welcome news to many, this won’t be the first time we’ve seen such bands – Apple showed off new sport band color options during a private event earlier this year. Also in the cards – a price cut, likely to jumpstart Apple Watch sales heading into the Christmas season.
5) This may be a given, but new iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch devices and configurations all suggest that new software is right around the corner. I would highly suspect that Apple will be releasing iOS 9 around the same time that they release the iPhone 6s, with watchOS 2 also making its official final debut that day as well. We know pretty much all there is to know about iOS 9 and watchOS 2 given their prominence at WWDC 2015, but if you need a refresher on that, I wrote some detail hands on impressions of the beta versions of both iOS 9 and watchOS 2 throughout the summer over on DotUnderscore.
Phones, Macs, and Watches - oh my
I’m a procrastinator. I have a tendency to wait until the very last minute to do anything, including publish these sort of What to Realistically Expect stories. Finally, my infliction has paid off – if I had written this even just last week, I would have jotted down new Apple TV hardware and software as a stone cold sure thing. Yet according to the ever reliable Brian X. Chen, Apple threw away plans to announce new Apple TV hardware and a cohesive developer ecosystem at WWDC at the very last minute because “the product was not ready for prime time”.
Given that I’m an avid user of the current iteration of Apple TV (I stream all my nightly television from there), I’m bummed to see this cut. I was hoping this would be when the Apple TV truly grew up and became a major player in the Apple line-up. Alas.
Time is short and things run behind schedule, and so it goes. There’s always September.
And in the spirit of that, we’re still on the verge of an entire week’s worth of new Apple products, platforms, and goodies. The Apple TV may not be there, but there’s still plenty left to cover. Here’s what you can realistically expect at WWDC 2015, starting tomorrow, June 8th.
New software, new hardware, new SDKs
While Apple famously remains mum on the future of most of their products, popular Apple rumor site 9to5Mac has today apparently spilled the beans on the near future of two of Apple’s most exciting products – the Apple Watch and the Apple TV. According to the new report, which cites a “proven source”, Apple is hard at work on both new software and hardware for the two product lines as well as at least one new service which will tie into both.
On the Apple Watch side, Apple is said to be busy adding in some low hanging fruit on the software side. Apple’s incredibly useful “Find My…” suite of services will expand to a new “Find My Apple Watch” function, which will allow you to locate the Watch’s general location and allow you to lock it or wipe it if lost. Given the Apple Watch features very few connectivity functionality of its own, Apple will apparently be basing this on a new service called “Smart Leashing”, which will allow the Watch to more accurately determine how far away the Watch is from your phone using services such as wi-fi and Bluetooth. This will supposedly also allow the Watch to warn a wearer with a few taps if it’s getting too far away from its connected iPhone.
Apple is also said to be working on the third party app ecosystem for the Apple Watch. First, the Apple may be working on improving the functionality of the current WatchKit SDK, the platform that Apple currently uses to wirelessly transmit app projects from iPhone apps to the Apple Watch display. Apple is said to be expanding this to allow developers to create their own Complications, widgets that live on the Watch’s watch face to provide nuggets of information. Complications are currently limited to Apple’s built in applications, such as showing the current weather information from the built in Weather app. 3rd party Complications would open up a new world of possibilities – for example, replacing Apple’s built in Weather complication with a preferred third party alternative. On top of the improvements to the current WatchKit, Apple is supposedly also hard at work at the successor to WatchKit – native Apple Watch applications that natively live on the Apple Watch hardware that don’t directly rely on the user’s iPhone. This next-generation Apple Watch SDK will enable much more powerful, functional, and sophisticated applications and will remove a majority of limitations that have frustrated many day one Apple Watch developers.
On the Apple TV side, 9to5Mac seemingly confirms that Apple is on the verge of releasing a next-generation Apple TV box alongside its first major software update in years. The new Apple TV is said to be much more powerful than the previous generation while also managing to become much slimmer than the current device. Apple will also introduce a third party application ecosystem for the new Apple TV OS, allowing developers to create their own apps – such as games, video streaming, music streaming, news, and more – for the Apple TV for the first time. Apple is said to be bundling in a more advanced remote control for the Apple TV, which may or may not include a Force Touch trackpad. Apple will also supposedly promote the Apple Watch’s Remote app to the primary remote for the Apple TV for Apple Watch owners. Apple is also apparently busy readying their new Live TV replacement service for the Apple TV, which will allow you – get ready for this – to watch live content a la cable, streaming directly to your Apple TV. This service is said to be slightly behind the new hardware and software initiatives.
What is left more ambiguous in 9to5Mac’s report is the timing of all the above. It would stand to reason that Apple is incredibly interested in pushing as much of this as possible at the company’s upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference, which is slated for June 8th – particularly the developer initiatives. Apple may also reveal their new version of their smartphone and Mac operating systems, iOS 9 and OS 10.11, alongside the new Apple Watch OS and Apple TV.
Let’s, just this once, take some wild guesses.
Given the imminent release of the Apple Watch – come on, that can’t be a spoiler at this point – it’s all too appropriate to compare Apple to the clock. Like the clock we all live by day in and day out, Apple observes a fairly strict set of cycles and patterns. Springtime is quiet time, with all the cooks busy in the kitchen preparing the second half of the year’s goodies. With June comes WWDC, Apple’s first big event, alongside Mac notebook hardware and new major versions of iOS and OS X. Then September – iPhone time – and finally late October, the iPad.
This year had to be different. When Apple announced the Apple Watch at last September’s media event, it was also announcing its first new product category since the iPad in 2010. It was announcing a product unlike one ever to come out of Apple; intimately customizable, from watch face to watch band to watch price. Are you in the market for the potentially five figure Apple Watch Edition, by any chance?
The Apple Watch makes predicting Monday’s event impossible. Traditionally, anybody who knew how to read Apple’s product release cycle and what type of product they traditionally released could make fairly accurate predictions on what to expect – it’s why we’ve been correct in all but one of our nearly twenty predictions thus far. This time, the only thing we can know for sure is that the Apple Watch is coming. Everything else?
Let’s, just this once, take some wild guesses.
What to realistically expect…” is a series of posts which we use to temper expectations concerning upcoming industry events. This Monday’s event promises to be one of the largest Apple events in recent memory, making this one of the most difficult – and interesting – events to predict. Read more to hear what we think.