This week, Apple announced a great number of new products and services that it will start shipping to customers in mid-April. First, Apple announced that they would be the exclusive partner with HBO’s new service, HBO Now, available for $14.99/month without a cable subscription. Starting in mid-April, customers will be able to sign up for the service with an Apple TV and their iOS devices, just in time for the premiere of Season 5 of their most popular show, Game of Thrones. The service will be exclusive to Apple devices and the web for 3 months before moving to other TV set top boxes. Apple TV also got a price drop to $69, in a bid to attract more customers to the platform.
Apple then announced ResearchKit, a platform designed to accelerate recruitment of medical study participants using their iOS devices. Users will be able to sign up with 5 special apps available on the store so they can help with research of various diseases from heart disease to Parkinson’s. ResearchKit helps in signing up patients and collecting information so it is secure, properly anonymized, and private. Apple claims to collect no data from ResearchKit – the data only goes to the appropriate parties. They have worked with world-class institutions from around the globe from Standard University to health care facilities in China in a bid to make a well-rounded platform for the next-generation of medical research.
Perhaps the most unanticipated new product announcement was the new 12″ MacBook. Long rumored, this new MacBook is thinner and lighter than the current MacBook Air but now comes with a high-resolution Retina display. Product weight has been reduced to only 2 pounds making it 20% lighter than their current lightest Mac. Most interestingly, Apple has decided to adopt USB Type-C, a new standard USB port that allows for both data transfer and charging at up to 100W. This allows for a single multi-purpose port that with an adapter can do power, DisplayPort USB, HDMI, and VGA. In order to get the system as thin as it is, the keyboard has been redesigned to need less key travel while living up to the demands of constant use. In addition, Apple has added its “Force Touch” technology from the Apple Watch to add a new dimension to trackpad use. By detecting the amount of pressure a user presses on the trackpad, Apple has updated OS X with new features such as increasing the speed of which a video fast forwards or quickly previewing a document with Quick Look.
Battery life has always been an important concern in laptops that are made thinner and lighter, but Apple has come up with another new technology in “terrace batteries”. Battery stacks are layered on top of each other in unique configurations to take up maximum space in a laptop by up to 35% more than traditional methods. Combined with a better display that uses 30% less energy and a smaller logic board, battery life still remains at a class-leading 9-10 hours from mixed use.
Lastly, Apple gave the final introduction of Apple Watch, with various 1st and 3rd party app demos including Uber, CNN, American Airlines, and SalesForce. Battery life is designed to be “all day”, with 5 hours screen-on time, 19 hours mixed use, and 72 hours after a power reserve feature kicks in allowing you to only see the time. Developers have been working since the November release of WatckKit to make new experiences for the watch in time for Apple’s release on April 24th. Pre-orders and in-store demos start April 10th for interested customers to try out the watch and see which size/type/band would best fit them. Prices range from $349 for the 38mm Sport model with an additional $50 for the 42mm model, $549 for the sapphire model, and $10,000 for the 18-karat gold Edition which will be sold in limited quantities.