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Apple Special Event: Apple Announces New Bands, Apps, Colors for Apple Watch

Today’s highly anticipated “Hey, Siri” event kicked off today (preceded by some music from Beats 1, which was a nice change of pace) after Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company would have “monster announcements” across several product lines.

Cook started off with some news about the Apple Watch, pointing out that many customers “love” using the device, to the point that he claims that customer satisfaction is at “90 percent.” After that brief introduction, Jeff Williams, SVP of operations, came on the stage to talk about the Apple Watch in greater detail.

Williams started off his segment of the presentation by talking about the third-party “complications” announced back during WWDC’s discussion of watchOS 2 — the features that tell additional information on your watchface. He also took the opportunity to very briefly show off a few third-party apps for the Apple Watch, such as ones from GoPro and Facebook Messenger. Williams also spoke about home-grown apps such as iTranslate and Transit for navigation.

Source: WSJ

Williams then invited Dr. Cameron Powell from AirStrip to take the stage to talk about the AirStrip app, a health app that fits well with some of those early rumors we heard about the Apple Watch. It’s specifically aimed at healthcare providers, and it lets them view their patients’ schedules and see their patients’ vital information through their Apple Watch interface. That includes the ability to monitor heart rates, and Powell demonstrated that it’s even possible to use the app to differentiate a baby’s heart rate from that of her mother. By using the crown on the side of the device, a health care professional can scan through a patient’s’ vital history.

Williams took then took the stage again to announce that the Apple Watch would also comes in the expected rose gold color option in addition to a regular gold option. The expected new bands for the Apple Watch Sport also made an appearance with widely different colors, in addition to a new (Product) Red band.

Apple is also working with Hermes to release a new leather band option for the Apple Watch with three different style options. The Hermes bands will be in Apple Stores in October, he said.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Special Event: Taking iPad Even Further with 12.9-inch iPad Pro

iPad Pro

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls the iPad “a simple multitouch piece of glass that instantly transforms into anything you want it to be” — and during today’s special event in San Francisco, the company took the product even further with “the biggest news in iPad since the iPad.”

Following an update on Apple Watch 2 and a teaser video, Cook debuted the long-rumored iPad Pro, which he called “the most capable and powerful iPad we’ve ever created. It is chock full of amazing technologies and innovations.”

Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller then took the stage to elaborate more on the company’s iPad Pro plans, featuring a 12.9-inch display packing 5.6 million pixels — the most on any iOS device to date — and a full-size software keyboard promising a superior typing experience.

Powering the iPad Pro is a new A9X chip, which is Apple’s third-generation 64-bit processor offering double the graphics performance of the previous A8X and a 2x increase in read/write to onboard storage. The screen also includes a variable refresh rate for improved power savings.

Perhaps most impressive, Schiller claims iPad Pro is 360x times faster than the original iPad introduced in 2010, a remarkable speed increase in only five years. Apple claims iPad Pro is faster than 80 percent of portable PCs, and makes possible all-new apps such as AutoCAD.

Featuring 10-hour battery life and four on-board speakers with automatic sound balancing depending upon how the device is held, iPad Pro is only 6.9mm thick, and weighs nearly the same as the original iPad at 1.57 lb.

Moving on to accessories, iPad Pro users will be able to pick up a Smart Keyboard covered with woven fabric, and uses a “smart connector” to magnetically attach to the tablet. Schiller also promises “a new level of accuracy” from the Apple Pencil, a precision stylus device for artists.

According to the Apple promo video narrated by Jonathan Ive, Apple Pencil uses “force data” for pressure sensitivity, and recharges directly from iPad Pro with an on-board Lightning connector.

iPad Pro owners can look forward to all-new Mail and Notes apps, and plenty of others are on the way, including updates to Microsoft’s Office lineup. Using Word for iPad, Microsoft showed off new pen tool features similar to those in the company’s own Surface tablet.

Next up: Adobe, showing off a trio of recent additions to the Creative Cloud lineup. A new app called Adobe Photoshop Fix makes it insanely easy to correct images on iPad Pro using facial recognition, turning a model’s frown into a smile with just a gesture. Adobe also showed how the existing Comp and Illustrator Sketch apps integrate and work perfectly with iOS 9′s new multitasking feature.

The final demonstration came courtesy of 3D4Medical, who showed off how iPad Pro can help doctors explain procedures with patients using interactive 3D models. Apple Pencil can also be used to virtually “cut” the on-screen models and show the inner workings of the human body in never-before-seen detail.

Available in the usual silver, gold, and space grey colors, iPad Pro is priced at 9 for 32GB, 9 for 128GB, or 79 for 128GB with LTE and arrives in November, along with the Apple Pencil and 9 Smart Keyboard.

Not to be left out, iPad mini 2 now becomes the entry-level tablet in Apple’s lineup, now starting at only 9. A new iPad mini 4 model starting at 9 brings the guts of an iPad Air 2 into a smaller frame, while the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 continue to be available starting at 9 and 9, respectively.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

 

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Apple Special Event: New Apple TV Revealed, Features Games, Motion Control, Siri

As expected, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage to announce the new Apple TV. The new device supports games, Siri, shopping, its own App Store, and even motion control capabilities for the gaming that resemble the Nintendo Wii. 

Cook started his presentation by claiming that the future of television is “apps” as “over 60 percent of pay TV streaming video is consumed on an Apple device, through an app.” In order to accommodate this, Cook said, there needs to be a TV built on powerful hardware that has both great developer tools and its own App Store.

Eddy Cue then took the stage to talk about the Apple TV’s specifics, while showing the new Apple TV’s Siri compatibility, which he could use to search for movies by particular actors or directors or just by asking to see a list of funny TV shows. The UI essentially looks the same with some new iTunes-ish touches as well as support for services like Photos and Apple Music. The new remote is particularly beautiful, and the top half of the device is dedicated to the rumored touch screen. On the bottom, it includes buttons for Siri, Home, and pausing and changing the volume. Cue’s presentation also confirmed the existence of Universal Search, but he noted that the service is currently limited to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime, although he said “we’ll be adding even more over time.”

Source: WSJ

Apple then held a demo showing how you can navigate through the interface using the touchpad, and that the device’s Siri functionality works so well that you can ask for “that one Modern Family episode with Edward Norton” and it will pop up. You can ask Siri to show a list of spy movies but limit them to those with “Sean Connery,” and Siri will do so. One of the most positively received announcements was that you can use Siri to say “What did she say?” and Siri will rewind the video 15 seconds.

Eddy Cue announced that the company made a new operating system for the new Apple TV, which they call tvOS. Cue noted that several well-known companies such as Hulu, Ubisoft, Disney, Activision, and Activision have been working with the new system. Also, the new Guitar Hero game will reportedly be coming to Apple TV.

Source: WSJ

Indeed, games seem like they will be a big focus of the new Apple TV, after all. Andy Sum of Hipster Whale studios demoed their game Crossyroad on stage, and showed that it featured multiplayer support with one person using the new Apple TV remote and one person using their iPhone as a controller. Jon Carter of Harmonix (the studio behind Rock Band) also came on stage to show off a new game called Beat Sports, in which players can use the Apple TV remote like a baseball bat to hit things in the game. This shows that the remote does, in fact, perform like the Nintendo’s Wii controller after all.

Apple also demonstrated that the new Apple TV would be good for shopping through the Gilt app. Already, Gilt’s representative said, “80 percent of our mobile sales come from Apple devices.” MLB’s At Bat App was also demo’ed on stage, showing that you can stream an MLB game on your Apple TV at 60 fps and that you can even stream two games at once. You can also receive notifications.

Apple closed by saying that the device would cost 9 for the 32GB version and 9 for the 64GB version.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Apple Special Event: Here Comes the iPhone 6s, Preorders Begin Sept. 12

iPhone 6S 3D Touch

Despite all the rumors and hype about a new iPhone debuting today in San Francisco, the folks in Cupertino apparently decided to save the best for last. On the heels of Apple Watch and Apple TV updates, CEO Tim Cook introduced the highly anticipated new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models.

After showing a few charts and graphs showing iPhone 6 as not only the most popular iPhone ever but the most popular phone period, Cook launched into a video showing the new iPhones everyone has been waiting for.

“The only thing that’s changed is everything,” Apple says of the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, now available in rose gold as well as the usual silver, gold, and space grey models. Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller came back on stage to gush over the new rose gold finish and give us details on the rest of the new features.

As predicted, iPhone 6s introduces 3D Touch, similar to the pressure-sensitive Force Touch found on Apple Watch. Billed as “the next generation of multitouch,” 3D Touch recognizes force applied to the display, which is made from a new, stronger type of glass than previous models.

Depending upon how hard you press on the display, the dynamic iOS 9 operating system provides precise, tactile feedback courtesy of Apple’s latest capacitive displays. iPhone 6s models also include a redesigned taptic engine for faster feedback that ever before.

For example, a small amount of pressure on a message provides a peek at the message, while a harder press would open a threaded conversation view, or even launch directly into the app itself. In Apple Mail, 3D Touch eliminates a lot of tapping on various pop-up menus, which can now be called up with a flick of your finger instead.

On the Phone app, 3D Touch makes it possible to press the icon to bring up a list of favorites, rather than actually launch the app. The same trick applies to other apps like Maps, where users can receive directions, make calls, and find out other information without even opening the app. Third-party developers like Facebook and Instagram have already been hard at work updating apps with this new “peek” feature.

Internally, iPhone 6S is powered by a new 64-bit A9 processor Apple claims is 70 percent faster at CPU tasks, and up to 90 percent faster at GPU tasks. To take advantage of this, Schiller invited Pixel Toys on stage to show off Freeblade gameplay, which can now use 3D Touch for switching weapons. (The game will hit the App Store in time for the holiday season.)

iPhone 6s also includes an always-on “Hey, Siri” feature, along with second-generation Touch ID that recognizes fingerprints faster than before. Naturally, the hardware also features improved camera sensor bumped up to 12MP capable of capturing 50 percent more pixels than previous models.

The all-new iSight camera also makes iPhone 6s images look sharper, more colorful, and vivid than ever. Exposure and color are more accurate, without the additional noise that usually comes with higher megapixel photos.

As rumored, iPhone 6s models will also be capable of capturing 4K quality video with up to 8 million pixels, in addition to the 1080p HD offered by earlier models. Naturally, iMovie is being upgraded to support 4K editing as well.

Selfie fans will also love the new FaceTime HD camera on the front of the iPhone 6s, turning the Retina Display into a True Tone flash that becomes three times brighter when in use.

One of the most unique features of iPhone 6s is Live Photos, which is activated by pressing the 3D Touch display to literally bring a static moment alive, complete with audio. There’s no special mode for taking Live Photos — simply make sure an on-screen button is selected, and the Camera app extends what is being captured before and after the actual photo with a minimal impact on storage space. Developers will also be able to support Live Photos starting later this year with a new API.

Featuring 23 LTE bands, 2x faster Wi-Fi, and all the new iOS 9 software features, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus owners will also be able to purchase new charging docks, leather and silicone covers that match the four color finishes.

iPhone 6s will be available starting at 9 for 16GB, with the iPhone 6s Plus priced at 9 for the same capacity, along with the same 64GB and 128 models as last year. U.S. customers will be able to take advantage of a new Apple Upgrade Program, which provides a new unlocked iPhone every year with your choice of carrier, complete with Apple Care coverage starting at per month.

So when can you get one? iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will begin preordering on Saturday, September 12, available in retail stores on September 25 in 12 countries, with more than 130 other destinations and 400 carriers set to launch by year’s end. iOS 9 will also be available starting September 16.

Last but not least, iCloud is also getting a nice drop in price, with 50GB for only 99 cents per month, 200GB for .99 per month, or 1TB for .99 per month.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Apple Daily: Apple Special Event Primer, Glowing ‘Steve Jobs’ Review; Apple and A.I.

If you want to know what to expect at Apple’s “Hey, Siri” media event tomorrow, we’ve already got a broad outline prepared for you. Elsewhere, critics are already in love with Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs film, and Apple itself is preparing to hire more people for its efforts in artificial intelligence. The question, though, is whether it’s ready to give up some of its commitment to privacy to achieve its goals.

What to Expect at Tomorrow’s Apple Event

We’re just a day away from Apple’s “Hey, Siri” media event, and as has been the case for the last couple of years, so many seemingly legitimate rumors have popped up in the last few weeks that it seems safe to say we already know about most of the things we’ll see on stage. (Expect Tim Cook and friends to make yet another joke about how Apple’s “doubling down” on security.) It’s thought to be a product-packed event, with Apple announcing everything from the so-called iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the 12.9-inch “iPad Pro,” the fourth-generation Apple TV, to updates for iOS 9 and WatchOS 2 and new wristbands for the Apple Watch. As always, we’ll be on hand to relay the news as we hear it if you’re unable to watch Apple’s live stream.

As usual for this time of year, we’ll almost certainly see the next-generation iPhones, which (in line with Apple’s tradition for “s” releases) probably won’t look too different from the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. On the inside and in the details, though, they’re thought to feature improved Series 7000 aluminum in order to avoid another “Bendgate,” Apple’s recent pressure-sensitive “Force Touch” technology, a faster A9 chip, and 2GB of RAM. In addition, the new phones are thought to come in a new rose gold color option and to sport a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

Apple is also widely expected to announce the fourth-generation Apple TV at the event, which is thought to come with its own App Store, Siri support, a universal search feature, and HomeKit support. In addition, it will likely come with a motion-sensitive remote control with multi-axis sensors. The remote is also thought to come with both a touchpad and buttons for interactions, a microphone for Siri, and it’s believed to come in black instead of the usual silver. Unfortunately, Apple’s long-awaited “cable-cutting” streaming TV service likely won’t make the show as it’s believed to be bogged down in negotiations.

At last, we’ll probably also see the long-rumored 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” on stage, which is thought to come with a 2732×2048 pixel display at 226PPI, Force Touch support (along with a compatible stylus), an A9 chip with 2GB of RAM, and stereo speakers. There’s also a small chance that it will come with USB-C ports for attaching peripheral devices, but that’s one of the more dubious rumors out there. A new, flatter Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard is also expected to release alongside the device.

In addition, we’ll probably see Apple announce the iPad mini 4, which is thought to be a smaller version of the iPad Air 2. Along with some (likely minor) updates about iOS 9, Apple is also expected to announce new Apple Watch Sport bands with new colors.

 

Steve Jobs Film Earns Glowing Early Reviews, Even From Woz

The early reviews and opinion pieces for Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs film are in, and it’s hard to find a negative word among them. The Aaron Sorkin-penned film premiered at Colorado’s Telluride Film Festival over the weekend, where it was presented as a “work in progress” owing to the desire for a few more tweaks, but even in that state, it wowed audience members and, yes, even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak himself.

One of the most notable pieces regarding this weekend’s viewing comes from Deadline, which notes that writer Aaron Sorkin’s work here is “even more effective” than it was in the Oscar-winning The Social Network. Deadline calls it “an action movie driven almost exclusively by words.” It also notes that Michael Fassbender pulled off his role of Jobs almost to perfection — “a spot-on and relentless portrayal of the not-very-likable computer genius.”

But it’s one thing to hear this kind of stuff from journalists; it’s quite another to hear similar praise from Steve Wozniak, who “gives full credit to Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin for getting it so right.”

“I saw a rough cut and I felt like I was actually watching Steve Jobs and the others (including Rogen’s dead-on portrayal of Wozniak), not actors playing them,” said Wozniak.

Variety had similar praise for the film, and it noted that even the cinematography bears the mark of genius:

“Besides Guy Hendrix Dyas’ unobtrusively excellent production design, the picture’s major visual coup is the decision to shoot the three acts on three different formats: grainy 16mm film for 1984, lustrous 35mm for 1988, and sleek, high-definition digital for 1998. The distinctions may well be lost on the vast majority of viewers, but it’s just the sort of nicely understated aesthetic flourish that Steve Jobs himself would have surely appreciated.”

We’re still over a month away from the film’s wide release date of October 9, but already Michael Fassbender’s performance is being called Oscar-worthy from several sources, although this weekend’s showings also revealed that he faces tough competition in the Best Actor category from Johnny Depp in Black Mass and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl. In his statement to Variety, though, Woz said that “of all the actors in the film he thinks [Kate] Winslet might be the most likely to garner awards attention.”

 

Apple Seeking to Expand Its Artificial Intelligence Team

Apple is apparently eager to improve its expertise in the field of artificial intelligence, and to that end, a new report from Reuters claims that the Cupertino company is trying to hire at least 86 new employees from the field in general and from the field of “machine learning” in particular. Apple, so the report says, wants to challenge Google’s popular Google Now service that anticipates what its smartphone users want to do, and thus the iPhone maker is courting key researchers from Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other companies.

Not surprisingly, Siri reportedly stands at the center of Apple’s artificial intelligence efforts, and the company hopes the new personnel with improve the service’s various functions. The problem, Reuters notes, is that Apple might have to compromise its famed commitment to consumer privacy in order to pull it off.

Consider the case of Apple’s Proactive feature from iOS 9, which performs similar functions to those in Google Now but mainly works with the data that’s already on a user’s iPhone. Since very little information goes into the cloud, Proactive has little access to online machine-learning research banks that can improve the service or, for that matter, machine learning in general. It’s thought, in fact, that Apple’s staunch refusal to let the cloud and researchers handle some of its users’ information might be scaring away some of the very researchers it wants to attract.

There’s a chance, the report notes, that Apple might be changing its stance as it attends more industry conferences and strengthens its ties with academia. In the meantime, Apple is working with what it has, and quite diligently at that: according to one unnamed insider source, the company’s machine learning has tripled or quadrupled in size over the course of the last few years.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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