Behind the Stats Curtain
Apple started off the event by blowing its trumpet to celebrate the already-known 5 million sales of the iPhone 5 (no update since this number was unveiled exactly a month ago), 200 million iOS 6.0 installs, 300 billion iMessages sent, 160 million Game Center user and other boggling stats.
On the apps front, there are now over 700,000 iPhone apps and 275,000 dedicated iPad apps and $6.5 billion dollars has been paid out to app developers. There are also 1.5 million iBooks of which 400 million copies have been downloaded. Which brought Tim Cook to the first new feature of the day. A new version of iBooks and iBooks Author. The reader app offers continuous scrolling, Korean and Japanese support, and other improvements.
A Big Mac Attack
Then Phil Schiller came out to introduce the new Mac products. He lead off with a new 13" MacBook Pro, just three-quarters of an inch thick and weighing 3.5lbs. It comes with a retina display on an IPS panel but it is inside this beast kicks. It will offer a choice of Core i5 or i7 processors, 8GB of RAM and up to 768GB of SSD storage, with prices starting at $1,699.
Mac Mini was next for the upgrade treatment with a 2.5GHz i5 Ivy Bridge dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard disk starting at $599. The range now runs up to i7 CPUs, Intel HD 4000 graphics and USB 3.0 connectors.
Then came the new iMac, an ultra-thin model with just 5mm thick, available in 21.5" and 27" displays. These models also support the latest Intel processors, up to 3TB of storage and a new trick called Fusion Drive that bolts together a small SSD (with the OS installed and your most-used apps) with a hard drive for regular storage through clever software for improved performance. These speedy beasts starts at £1299.
The Main Course
The iPad segment of the event started with the news that Apple has just sold its 100 millionth iPad, in just over 2.5 years. Pretty staggering. The expected educational focus covered how iBooks now cover 80% of the U.S. high school core curriculum. The new iBooks Author allows publishers to use their own fonts, drop in math equations, use multitouch widgets for improved touch experiences and it is out today.
Which brings us to the highlights of the presentation. first up was the fourth-generation iPad. It packs an Apple A6X processor for another doubling of CPU and graphics power with improved image processing, but at the same battery life due to improved efficiency. Also upgraded are the radios, rather like happened with the iPhone 5. Prices remain the same with 16GB model costing $499.
Then they pulled out the iPad mini, measuring just 7.2mm thick, weighing 0.68lbs, more than half as light as the previous iPad. It comes with a 7.9" inch display running at 1024 x 768, and it doesn't actually look that "mini", but is compatible with all original iPad apps. It runs a dual-core A5 chip, comes with LTE, FaceTime camera, 5MP rear camera and Lightning connector and there is a new-style SmartCover.
As expected, prices start at $329 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, up to $659 for a 64GB model with cellular. Both iPad mini and iPad 4 will be available for pre-order this Friday with the WiFi models shipping on 2 November, and the 4G models shipping a couple of weeks later.
Questions for the Floor
So, do you think a 1024 x 768 display is particularly magical, when you can have the full experience for not a huge amount more. Also, why has Apple doubled the power of the iPad fourth-gen when there are barely any apps that use the full power of the iPad 3? Apple might be building it, but there is little sign of the high-end developers coming.