It seems like just last month that Apple held one of their product announcement events where we saw a new phone, an update to the AppleWatch, and new software. While there was a lot to see (and buy!), some people were wondering why there was no MacBook love. Well, have no fear, Apple is back with some new goodies for you to add to your Christmas List this year (if you can even wait that long).
The event opened with a video demonstrating all the ways that Apple products have been engineered to help those with disabilities to navigate through the day. It also announced the launch of a new accessibility website to help people learn about all the ways that Apple can help. Following that, we were given a recap of the iPhone 7 launch, the uptake of iOS10 (60% of Apple users to date), the launch of ApplePay in Japan, and the AppleWatch Nike Plus edition being available on Oct. 28th.
AppleTV was the first product today to get some dedicated love. While there is no new hardware upgrades, we heard about how the AppleTV now has 8000 dedicated apps – 1600 of those for media content alone). They announced that Minecraft will be out for AppleTV before the end of 2016 and talked about how certain apps, such as Twitter, are enhancing the way we watch live tv by offering enhanced second screens. There was also the launch of the new Apple app called, simply, “TV”.
This app will unify all of your movie and video apps into one spot, including Apple’s stock video app. By doing this, it will bring all the various movies and tv shows you’ve started watching or the seasons you’re bingeing on into one area. It also provides suggestions for things to watch but expands beyond what’s in the iTunes store to other content apps. This new app will replace the video app across all iOS devices as well (iPhone and iPad) which means that you can use device handoff to pick up on one device where you left on another. With this new app, you also get new Siri functionality including being able to ask Siri for things like “Watch CBS news” or “watch XYZ game” or “what other football games are on now?” And immediately be taken to what you want to see. This new app will launch in December starting in the US.
Then came the major focus of today’s announcement – the MacBook. Just when we thought that 2016 might come and go without a change to the MacBook, a product 27 years in the making, the Apple gods have bestowed upon us the new MacBook Pro. The aluminum powerhouse comes in Silver and Space Grey options and has 13″ and 15″ models available. They measure 14.9-15.5 mm in thickness and weigh 3-4lbs. Ther are improved screens and performance (making it the “most powerful MacBook ever” with Intel Chips (i5 or i7) and Radeon Pro graphics. The redesigned speakers mean a boost in volume and quality of sound. There’s even a larger ForceTouch trackpad and a new keyboard.
But, much like an angelic light shining down from the heavens above, there’s a new glow shining down on the keys of the keyboard. Today marks the day that Apple bestowed the all-new Touch Bar upon us. Where we used to see the row of function keys flaunting their superior placement over the other keys, we now have an OLED strip. This “2nd screen” replaces the standard system functions and adapts to the software you’re using, creating shortcuts and new functions while freeing up main screen real estate. The customizable Touch Bar learns from your use to suggest efficiencies and even brings TouchID to the MacBook Pro. With several onstage demonstrations from apps like Photoshop and DJ Pro, Touch Bar will improve the user experience and pave the way for future creative uses.
And now we come to the memorial part of today’s Apple celebrations. Not only have the function keys moved onto that great white keyboard in the sky, October 27th is the day we bid a fond farewell to our friend, the MacBook Air. Hot on the heels of the announcement of the MacBook Pro refresh, Apple revealed that the MacBook Air will be replaced by… the MacBook Pro? The MacBook Air is being shown the door in favour of a less powerful 13″ MacBook Pro (minus the Touch Bar).
Cost and Shipping:
MacBook Pro 13″ (No Touch Bar) – Starting at $1,899 CAD and ships immediately
MacBook Pro 13″ (w/Touch Bar) – Starting at $2,299 CAD and ships in 2-3 weeks
MacBook Pro 15″ (w/Touch Bar) – Starting at $2,999 CAD and ships in 2-3 weeks
While this might not have been the biggest of Apple’s announcements this year, many Apple fans will be happy to see the MacBook refresh and for those still holding onto their 1st or 2nd gen AppleTVs, perhaps now it’s time to consider an upgrade. And who knows, maybe it won’t be long before we see the Touch Bar on the stand alone iMac keyboard. May the Apple gods continue to shine down on us favourably.
By Kevin Joseph