Apple had their “Spring Forward” event yesterday, and these are some thoughts that I came away with.
- I wasn’t expecting anything yesterday besides rehashing the Apple Watch, and maybe hearing some new features about it, plus pricing and ship dates. So everything extra we got were some nice bonuses.
- I am really looking forward to HBO Now. As Macsparky put it it, I think this could be the hole that breaks open the dam so to speak. It will be interesting to see a) how successful HBO is, and then b) how many other cable channels follow suit. HBO now will start at $14.99/month, and if you get it in April the first month will be free.
- I think the price drop of the Apple TV from $99 to $69 reflects at least three things. 1) The Apple TV models are old and getting older. 2) There is more competition and Apple is getting beat in the tv streaming box market. (To be fair, I don’t use my Apple TV as much as I used to. It’s getting older and restarts itself in the middle of episodes. I have thus been using my Roku and Amazon Fire TV stick much more.) 3) I think we will be seeing a new higher end Apple TV come out later this year, that will probably be priced at $99.
- The new MacBook actually stuck out to me the most. That is a computer I could actually see myself potentially getting in the next couple of years to replace my current MacBook, which will partially depend on how Apple upgrades it over the next couple years as well. It’s higher than the entry level Macbook Airs, but it doesn’t have all the power of the MacBook Pros. It’s a perfect middle which is all I need. It is incredibly light and thin, with only one usb port (called USB-c) for charging and all other cables, plus a headphone jack. They introduced a new concept for the trackpad called “Force Touch” that uses taptic technology to give you the sense that you are pressing down and clicking the mouse, when in reality, you are simply applying force and the trackpad reads it as a click and gives you that feedback. There is also a new keyboard that comes with it that uses what Apple calls the “butterfly method” for pushing keys down to support both the thinner design, as well as more stable keys. The display is retina, which has been curiously left out of the Airs, probably to keep them priced low. Overall, I think it is impressive, and shows Apple really believes the future of notebooks to be truly wireless with the single port.
- Apple also announced research kit, which hadn’t even been rumoured. This kit will allow for apps made by researchers to connect with it so they can do studies if you are willing to participate in them. Apple won’t see any of your medical information. I think Apple is really trying to emphasize how much it wants to go beyond the conventional use of cell phones and expand to other areas of use. Using research kit will allow scientists a lot more potential information to be able to better study certain diseases and conditions. Right away there are apps for heart disease, parkinsons, breast cancer, and asthma. I am curious if we could see too many participants though. It is possible to have too large of a sample for studies because you end up with data clutter and you get lost in the trees.
- I am really excited to get my hands on an Apple Watch. Unfortunately, it is too high priced for me at this point, but maybe in a year or two. I think this device could be revolutionary for those of us who use iPhones. The Apple Watch starts at $349 for the Apple Watch Sport, $649 for the Apple Watch, and $10,000 for the Apple Watch Edition (which will only be made in limited quantities and sold at select few retail stores). When Tim Cook was scrolling through the apps, I noticed an Instapaper app, which I though was interesting. At this point, I can’t imagine myself reading articles on my wrist. It seems to small. I think the watch will be best for health/fitness, checking off any notifications and texts without having to pull my phone out, and of course time, calendar, weather etc. Also, I’m kind of curious as to what games may come that you can play on your wrist. You can get the watch in two sizes: 38mm and 42mm, with the 42mm watch costing $50 more, and you pay extra depending on the type of band you want. There will also be an Apple Watch app on your iPhone that will come with iOS 8.2 (out yesterday) that you will use to manage your device and get apps for it. The battery life is all day, coming out in Apple’s tests to 18 hours, which is exactly what you would need in a smart watch. Any less than that, and it just wouldn’t work. It will be interesting to see how different the hours are when consumers begin using them en masse.
Overall, I think Apple is headed in the right direction with their products. A lot really depends on how well the Apple Watch performs. Apple has really thought this through and I think it has the potential to permanently tell us what a smartwatch should look like.