Apple held an event on 9th March 2015 and this may be an event that finally garnered my interest after a long time. This is because of the new products which were launched. Most of their keynotes in the last two years spoke only about incremental changes to the iPhone and/or the iPad. And it even became predictable as to what new things would be announced. The camera and processor get bumped up in the S model of the iPhone (sometimes with the addition of a special feature), while the subsequent one will also have a new form factor. With the iPad, it gets thinner and get a few features like Siri, Touch ID from the iPhone and again a few spec bumps. But at this spring event, Apple showed what they are capable of. They spoke about three new products and here is what I made of the event as a whole.
Smartwatches may be a niche market but almost every phone manufacturer has released a smartwatch. With Android while you can own a phone of one company and a smartwatch of another, the Apple Watch works only with an iPhone. But this was expected as Apple has always had a closed ecosystem. The Watch is available in three variants, with the prices starting from $349 and going up to a staggering $17,000 for the gold ‘edition’. Irrespective of what trade pundits say, the Watch will sell. We can’t foresee as to how well will its successors perform and if the product will be another success story for Apple, but as of today it will surely make Apple a whole lot of money.
If we look back at the past, we had many ‘smartphones’ before the first iPhone came out, but none of these changed the industry as a whole. But with the launch of the 1st iPhone, Apple truly revolutionized the product category and the industry followed. The same story goes for the iPad as well. And it may also repeat with the Apple Watch. There are many smart watches available but Apple’s Watch can make this wearable go mainstream and more become popular. There are high chances of this happening as Apple is promoting the Watch as a fashion/health/luxury product rather than just a device to get/browser notifications.
The last ‘MacBook’ was released in 2010. It almost seemed like Apple had discontinued that line up and chose to keep the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro in the market. But that changed at this event as they unveiled an all new MacBook which in itself is an engineering marvel. The device is thinner than the current MacBook Air which is already ultra slim. It looks stunning and is also available in three different colour options. Loads of new technologies like the butterfly mechanism for the keyboard, the stacked batteries, etc have been used in the making of this MacBook. But the biggest hardware change is inclusion of just one single port — USB-C type. The USB-C is a reversible cable and will be used to charge your MacBook. It is a slim as the microUSB but it is faster than the USB-B standard. Apple’s MacBook Air brought a new wave of thin Ultrabooks in the market from different competitors. To play catch-up, I suspect competitors will launch devices with USB-C port and even if that doesn’t happen, it is almost certain that Apple will bring the port to the Air and Pro in future.
The only drawback is that one will have to shell out extra bucks to buy various adapters. Because you will definitely want to connect a USB in your laptop some day. The only USB adapter costs $19 while the 3 port adapter which contains a charging port, USB port and HDMI costs $79. In fact, at times one single USB port may not be enough. What if you want to connect your phone and hard disk in the MacBook at the same time? Apple definitely has to do something about that. Also, it would be great if they had provided the adapter in the box itself. But Apple being Apple, chose not to. This is like the time when the lightning cable was introduced and users had to separately buy the 30 pin to lightning adapter for $30. But now the lightning cable comes right inside the box in all iPads and iPhones and I hope the same will go for the MacBook.
The Research Kit was the most unexpected announcement from the event. As regular users of Apple products, this may not seem important to you and me but for Apple it maybe their next big product. The kit is open source and will help in medical research. There are small tests that people can do to detect diseases like Parkinson’s, Diabetes, etc. As of now, we don’t know how well this kit will help in research. It will also help doctors to keep a tab on their patients health. APple has shifted its focus to health in the recent times. They introduced an all new Health app in iOS 8 which lets your store a lot of your health related data and helps you set up a medical ID too. After all, technology has come a long way and it will be great if its uses are beyond just communicating with each other.
If you ask me, I won’t be buying the MacBook or the Apple Watch. That is because my MacBook Air is just 5 months old and I’m not a fan of wearables. I already find my phone buzzing all day so I definitely don’t want a Watch doing the same on my wrist too. I also don’t know if the Research Kit will be of any use to me. But what I’m happy about is that Apple has finally released things other than the iPhone or the iPad. Hope this is a sign of better things to come.