Blog 53

Robert Walter, Technical Director

Going into the event there were many rumours around what would be announced, new iPhones and features around iOS, primarily in Siri were the accepted definites.

Personally I was also hoping for a new Apple TV, and the long rumoured iPad Pro would be nice but normally the iPad events have been in October so I didn’t expect new iPad hardware at all.

So I launched Safari on my MacBook and went to the live streamed event...

Apple Watch

First up was the Apple Watch, this was only covered quite briefly but they recapped the features coming with WatchOS 2 and demoed some apps. Particularly fascinating were 2 demos by AirStrip, an American Mobile Healthcare Transformation company whereby the Apple Watch can now be used to send health information directly to a Doctor's wrist. Being authenticated while worn on the wrist means that it can send notifications securely and most impressively receive live health information such as heart rate and blood pressure. I can’t see it making it to the NHS but it shows some of the potential directions the technology is being taken in.

I’m not quite sure of the necessity of GoPro being controlled through your watch, are people really going to check it while doing a frontflip on the ski slope?

Some new models and several new straps were also announced which I’m sure will drive more interest from fashionistas.

iPad Pro

“The biggest news in iPad since the iPad”

They started it with a bold statement and I think many people, including myself, were trying to work out how they could get hold of one. When the original iPad came out, I didn’t get it, it was just a big iPhone and I certainly found the meme’s of 4 iPhones taped together and printing on an iPad hilarious. Then I used one and I understood. Even then I didn’t use it much more than web browsing, bits of reading, some apps and occasional games. I don’t use my iPad for much more than that now (although my 2 and a half year old probably uses it more than me!). I can see the iPad Pro along with it’s power and intuitive multi-tasking ability becoming a mainstay in the work environment where you need that, along with tools such as the physical keyboard and stylus to give you the productivity that is required.

The Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil reminded me very much of the Microsoft Surface Pro though iOS and it’s touch interface seems a much more integrated with the hardware than the Surface was with Windows 8.

Our iOS developers will be looking forward to getting their hands on one later in the year to start developing for it.

The Apple Pencil will get a lot of stick from some people especially given the following quote from Steve Jobs back in 2010...

"It's like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it. In multitasking, if you see a task manager they blew it."

I don’t see the benefit from a technical point of view but I’m sure the designers in the team will be eager to give it a go.

While they were demoing it, I found it interesting that they had representatives from Microsoft on stage showing Office on the iPad with the pencil, it made me think back to Macworld 97 with Bill Gates on the big screen towering over Steve jobs. Drawing on office documents has been available for several years on the Surface Pro so it wasn’t the most impressive of demo’s. There was a medical education app being demonstrated but after seeing the Microsoft demo using HoloLens from January it wasn’t particularly impressive and I think the crowd thought similar as there seemed to be pauses for applause but nothing came and seemed slightly awkward in places.

Adobe demoed a new Photoshop fix which certainly show that the big companies are going into it in a big way.

Apple TV

It has been a long time coming - the hardware has hardly changed in the 3 years since the introduction of the 2nd generation one in early 2012 (though with several significant software changes), so the Apple TV changes will be well received. Given the OS was always based on iOS an AppStore has long been requested and finally it has been delivered.

I’ve certainly got some ideas of apps that would suit the new platform and we’ll be looking to hopefully do some design sprints with clients to make design products for it.

I think the iPhone and iPad both have casual gamers who use their devices for playing occasional games, and I think Apple TV could take off in a similar way to the Wii. It has a massive development base already in existence due to the similarity to iOS and given that the price of games is normally quite cheap I think it will do pretty well.

Siri has deep integration - working across multiple apps will make it a nice user experience. I have Virgin Media with it’s on demand content, Sky on demand as well as Netflix, and the recorded content on TiVo, it can be frustrating finding something to watch. And no requirement to type on a remote control using the 0-9 numbers!

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

Lastly it was on to the new iPhones and for me there was only one feature worth talking about, 3DTouch. It was rumoured that ForceTouch (already seen in the Apple Watch and latest Retina MacBooks) would be part of the feature set and it did not disappoint, the peek and pop gestures look to fit naturally within iOS 9 and seems to have great first and third party implementations already.

iOS 9 will be released next week and we’re looking forward to providing an update on it when we’ve had a go on the final version.

I thought during the mail demo of these new gestures it was a nice touch hinting at the rumours of the Apple Car but dismissing it by putting the mail in the trash.

The Live Photos feature is going to be interesting. I’m quite a keen photographer so I’m always eager to get my hands on new tech relating to it. The real test will be how it handles in the real world and not just on demos made by professional photographers.

One item that will cause fervent discussion in the office will be the latest installment of the Android vs. iPhone discussion and an app available on the Play Store to help you migrate to an iPhone is sure to cause some friendly banter in the office!

Summary

Overall I think it was the strongest Apple Event for a long while given the significant product updates across 3 product families. We are really looking forward to getting our hands on the new hardware and the SDK’s into the hands of the team. We can't wait to start working on the latest technology to see what we can come up with for our clients, as well as seeing what the rest of the industry's response will be.

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