By Nina Mulamba
Despite the fact that sales of the company’s earlier iPads had been on the decline, Apple has unveiled a larger iPad tablet, a TV box with its own app store and new iPhones that can detect how firmly their screens are being pressed. The firm suggests the iPad Pro was suited to work tasks, video games and both editing and watching movies.
Apple say the “3D touch” feature of its new phones “transformed” the experience of using them by making it easier to use and switch between apps. The idea behind the new iPhone’s 3D Touch feature is that users can call up different functions by pressing the handsets’ screens firmly. One can simply preview an email or photo, swap weapons in a video game, quickly switch into selfie photo mode and also shoot 4,000 videos.
In addition, the rear camera has been upgraded to offer 12 megapixels rather than eight – Apple says it has ensured the extra resolution has not come at the cost of more noise.
The new iPhones also have a processor boost but they will go on sale in a fortnight’s time.
Apple says the new iPad Pro tablet offered similar processing power to 80% of the portable PCs that were sold over the past six months. The iPad Pro will be launched alongside an optional magnetically connected keyboard that goes for $169, which resembles a similar accessory for Microsoft’s Surface tablet.
In addition, the firm announced a stylus called the Apple Pencil that costs $99, which has sensors on its tip to help mimic the effect of using a real pencil on paper.
Apple says the iPad Pro should run for 10 hours of use between charges and would be available in November and range from $799 to $1,079 depending on its level of storage and 4G connectivity.
One expert suggested that the new model could strengthen the sales but was worried the price might be a barrier.
“As much as the iPad is experiencing some challenging times, it’s vastly more successful than any other tablet on the market and it’s still a multi-billion dollar business,” said Geoff Blaber from the CCS Insight consultancy.
“Moreover, what’s happened is there’s been cannibalization from larger screened iPhones. A larger-screened iPad should definitely breathe some life into the category. But the price will be a barrier for many.”
The Chief Executive Tim Cook also unveiled a new set top TV box that uses a remote control featuring a touch-sensitive panel and a microphone that allows it to be voice-operated. The television also contains its own app store and new operating system.
“The future of TV is apps,” declared Mr. Cook. The firm had previously described its TV boxes as a “hobby”.
Mr. Cook acknowledged it had taken his company several years to introduce a TV app store.
“I don’t think they have missed an opportunity by waiting until now”. There’s a lot of people out there who want to watch content that is only available online from the TV, and if Apple can show its device does things better than the alternatives you would expect them to start winning market share pretty quickly,” commented Ian Maude from Enders Analysis.
The TV box will cost either $149 or $199 depending on how much storage the user wants.
An upgrade to the operating system of Apple’s smart watch was announced which will be released on 16 September.
The watch will allow third-party apps to run natively on the device rather than relying on a linked smartphone’s processor.
In addition to loading faster, the apps will also gain the ability to play video and access the Watch’s microphone and sensors.