This year’s Apple release was more closely watched than previous years, not so much for the new iPhones that were revealed but for the Apple TV and iPad Pro announcements.
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The new phones are S models of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Usually, S models are a refinement on the previous year’s model. Where the 6 and 6 Plus changed the form of Apple’s phones (i.e. making them massive), the S versions have small improvements in performance, but they do have a new touch function.
Called “3D Touch”, the system works similarly to the touchpads on the new MacBooks: a tap does what it always does; holding your finger does something different; and pressing on the screen does a third action. The new iOS9 takes advantage of this system and it’s certain app developers are already looking at how to use this to their – and hopefully your – advantage.
The cameras have also been upgraded. The rear cameras can now shoot 4K video (roughly twice the resolution of 1080p) and the image sensors have also been given a boost, meaning your pictures should look better. Or at least they’ll be in higher resolution.
Live pictures is the latest gimmick. It allows you to capture a small amount of video before and after taking a still photo. You access the video by pressing the image in your phone or on your lock screen.
Apple’s iPad Pro is the company’s first foray into the hybrid laptop market. By itself, it’s a bigger, more powerful iPad with extra speakers. But it’s sold alongside a separate keyboard (Smart Keyboard) and stylus (Apple Pencil). Connecting these turns the iPad Pro into a lightweight laptop. Without them though it’s just a big tablet, which is annoying because those accessories aren’t cheap.
An improvement in iOS9 makes the iPad more useful for working on. With the new operating system, you can split the screen in two and work on two separate app simultaneously. It’s the first time a mobile Apple device has been able to do this.
The iPad Pro is an interesting device to bring out after Apple’s recently downsized MacBook, which seems like a similar device but without the touchscreen. The improvements to Apple TV have been a long time coming. The small black “hockey puck” still looks the same, with the main difference being the remote and how the system works. The new Apple TV works a lot more with the internet and uses the Siri voice command system to search for media titles and, presumably, control playback as well. However, if this works like other voice command systems you may find it annoying long before you find it useful – and it has to deal with the Kiwi accent.
The new remote has a built-in microphone so you can talk to Siri directly, rather than yelling across the room. It also comes with a touchpad, similar to what you’d get in a MacBook. This removes the need to press buttons to navigate the screen, though it doesn’t seem like it will be a massive improvement. It certainly won’t make typing a lengthy Netflix password any easier. The new Apple TV also allows certain games to be played from your phone or tablet on your TV, with your device being the controller. This sounds great but it’s a long way from replacing your Xbox or PS4.
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will be released in New Zealand on September 25. The iPhone 6S models will start at $1199; the 6S Plus models will start at $1399.
The iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard will be available in New Zealand in November, local prices have not been announced.
Apple TV does not have a release date or price yet.
By Hadyn Green.
This information is available to Consumer members only.