Apple reveals Apple Watch details and more at 'Spring Forward' event
A brand new super-thin MacBook is also revealed...
Tim Cook opened the March 9 'Spring Forward' event with a spotlight on China, explaining that in the last six months Apple has opened six new stores in the country, bringing the total stores to 21 – with plans to have almost double that number by the end of 2015.
The first Apple product on the big screen in San Francisco tonight was the Apple TV, which has been the subject of update rumours within the tech community for some time now. Cook was joined on the stage by HBO CEO Richard Plepler, who revealed a special partnership with the tech giant: Apple is now the launch partner for its 'HBO Now' streaming service, set to be released in April and priced at $14.99 per month. An exclusive debut of HBO's crown jewel – Game of Thrones – series five trailer then followed, much to the crowd's delight.
Cook then turned his focus to the iPhone 6 and Apple Pay, telling the audience "Now, in just three months we have tripled the amount of locations accepting Apple Pay to 700,000." Impressive stuff. Cook also revealed that Coca-Cola vending machines would soon be accepting Apple Pay.
Apple's new automobile tech – CarPlay – was then explored, with Cook telling the audience that every major car brand in the world has committed to using Apple's new operating system.
One of the biggest announcements tonight, aside from the Apple Watch of course (more on that later), was Apple's new development: The ResearchKit. Apple's vice president of operations Jeff Williams revealed that the new tech will be used by medical research, meaning that all Apple Healthkit users will be contributing to key health developments and breakthroughs. Williams explained that ResearchKit allows researchers to create apps for transforming the iPhone and HealthKit into diagnostic tools. The tech giant then revealed that it has been working behind-the-scenes with a number of research institutions to create the first apps focused on Parkinson's, asthma and other areas of medical research. ResearchKit will be released next month: "We wanted anybody, anywhere, regardless of platform, to contribute," Williams said.
Next, Tim Cook rejoined the stage to discuss the MacBook...
Apple's CEO proudly announced that despite the fact that the global market for laptops decreased last year, Apple's business increased by 20%. "This is the strongest Mac update we have ever had," Cook said, as he held the new super-thin, super-light, and super-gold MacBook. Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller then came up to the stage to reveal that the new MacBook weighs in at just two pounds – and it's thin, very thin: 13.1 mm, 24 percent thinner than the MacBook Air. A new, improved full-sized keyboard goes all the way to the edge of the impressive machine, and it is four times more accurate than the typical keyboard.
A new 12-inch screen with Retina display 2304 x 1440 pixels will provide unrivalled quality, and a new track pad Apple is calling the 'Force Touch Trackpad' was unveiled. It has four sensors underneath, and a high-tech Taptic Engine, which provides feedback with each and every click. The new and improved MacBook will also be 'fanless', and the logic board is the tiniest it has ever had in its laptops. The updated MacBook is powered by Intel's Core M chip that consumes just five watts of power, offering all-day battery life. Prices will start at $1299 for a 1.1 GHz processor.
Next came the star of the show – the Apple Watch – "Since what you wear is an expression of who are, we made the watch for people with different tastes and preferences," Tim Cook said, introducing the new coveted wearable.
The screen featured projections showing off the Apple Watch's customisable watch faces – users can select from a traditional look, or one full of information such as health data. A new feature called 'Glances' allows users to look at data like the weather, calendar, control music and even details on the user's heart rate.
"Apple brings whole new personal dimension to time keeping that's never been done before," Cook said. The wearable allows for emails to be read it full, and new communication features were also announced. Pressing the Apple Watch's side button allows users to connect directly with other Apple Watch users. You can draw a doodle and send it to your friends with the device, and even send a heart beat to a fellow Apple Watch user.
The high-tech event then received a high-fashion injection when a video appeared of supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns. The fitness enthusiast and iconic model recently completed a half-marathon in Africa using the Apple Watch, and was brought up to the stage by Tim Cook.
It was announced that the Apple Watch is also fully Apple Pay compatible, meaning users can pay for items with the flick of a wrist, and it also has capabilities for photos, music and Siri.
Apple's vice president of technology, Kevin Lynch then hit the stage to discuss the device's new software development kit. Lynch demonstrated how the WeChat messaging app will work on the wearable: When you receive a message, you can reply just by tapping on a button to open the app, and you can reply with stickers or text. Instagram lovers will also be happy to learn that the Apple Watch will allow you to post, scroll and double-tap with the popular social media platform.
The pioneering wearable is also fully compatible for phone calls – it communicates with your iPhone via WiFi and Bluetooth, allowing you to make and receive calls. The Apple Watch will allow for users to call an Uber, check-in to hotels, and even open doors. A new alarm app will provide detailed information about your home: The doors, thermostats, locks and even be able to show you a live camera feed via your home security cameras.
The upcoming iOS 8.2 update will feature an improved and Apple Watch-ready app store, which will allow Apple Watch holders to peruse the available apps on their iPhone, and download the ones they wish you use straight to their Apple Watch. As previously reported, much like the iPhone, if you use the Apple Watch daily, you will need to charge it overnight and it is expected to last for around 18 hours.
And so, another buzzed-about Apple event completed – which updates and new products are you most excited about?