“When technology is designed for everyone, it lets everyone do what they love”
Last month we were treated to a large scale affair for Apple's iPhone 7-centric event, and this month, in a slightly less chaotic gathering at Apple's own Town Hall, we welcome Tim Cook on stage to run us through the company's "Hello Again" event focused on, amongst other things, the future of the MacBook range.
After opening up in true Apple fashion with a purposely created, and highly emotive video, this time focused on accessible technology, CEO Tim Cook dove straight into the announcements that culminated with the introduction of the highly anticipated 2016 MacBook Pro.
Company & Product Updates
As is generally the case with any Apple Keynote, enigmatic CEO Tim Cook started the celebrations with a number of company and product announcements after an extremely emotional and moving video focused on making technology accessible to all had aired to the audience. This video would set the scene for Apple to announce that it has launched a new accessibility website, dedicated to exploring and making stunning technology accessible to all who wish to use it.
One of those first announcements focused on the company's revamped Photos app as bundled into iOS 10, and more specifically, the powerful and emotive Memories feature. Since the launch of iOS 10, users around the world have viewed more than 500 daily memories created by the feature.
Cook also took the opportunity to poke fun at Android by confirming that approximately 60% of compatible devices are now running iOS 10 just a month after its initial launch. This was compared against the less than 1% of Android devices running the latest Android 7 Nougat platform, and the fact that many Android devices will never actually get access to Android 7 at all. When you take those figures into account you really start to get an understanding of the fragmentation issues faced by Android.
Apple TV & tvOS
The Apple TV is undeniably a growing product line for Apple, and is clearly hardware that will progress in the next few years to become a focal point in our living rooms. At least that's the hope from Apple's perspective. Regardless of how long it takes to get to that
stage, Apple's registered developers appear to be doing their part to assist, with the company announcing that there are now more than 8,000 dedicated Apple TV apps available in the tvOS App Store. 25% of those available apps are purpose built games that take advantage of the big screen and the Siri remote, as well as third-party Bluetooth gaming controllers, and of course, no modern Apple event would be complete without a gaming revelation.
This time around we weren't joined on stage by any legendary or iconic game designers or creators, but we did learn that the Apple TV would become a more popular gaming proposition with the launch of Minecraft coming before the year is out. Minecrafters will be able to create their own unique worlds directly on the big screen in the living room, as well as interact and play directly with those running the title on iPhone or iPad.
Apple’s New “TV” App
This announcement actually ties in nicely with the tvOS content above, but it's likely to be a popular addition in the United States so probably deserves its own little mention. The newly announced cross-platform app will allow interested individuals to track their favourite TV shows and movies across all video apps and channels on the Apple TV. In order to achieve this level of functionality, Apple has used its negotiating might to aggregate content from a number of content providers into one single app and view so that users aren't needing to continuously check various sources, apps and channels for new content or to see what's on. It's simply a case of finding something with TV, or viewing recommendations based on previous viewing habits. and the Apple TV and tvOS takes care of the rest by worrying about where that content is actually served from.
2016 MacBook Pro
And finally, we get to the interesting part that was really the reason for everyone to actually tune in to the live stream of Apple's event. It may have slipped under the radar, but Apple was actually celebrating the 25th anniversary of the launch of its first ever notebook, the Apple PowerBook. To give the PowerBook the celebration it deserved, Tim Cook and his executive team lifted the covers off the "thinnest, lightest and most powerful"
MacBook Pro that we've ever seen. In addition to being lighter and thinner, the 2016 MacBook Pro also boasts a better audio experience, a brighter display at around 500 nits, an improved graphics performance, and even a whole new thermal architecture system that looks to make this new MacBook extremely quiet.
Apple has taken the opportunity to double the surface area of the Force Touch trackpad for a dramatically improved input system, and has even swapped the old keyboard out to be replaced with the second-generation butterfly mechanism. It still comes equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and will ship with four Thunderbolt ports, two on each side. That all sounds good, but let's be honest, it's really the new Touch Bar that you want to know about, right?
As expected, and is the trend at the moment, Apple can't seem to release new hardware without removing something that people will be up in arms about. With the new MacBook Pro, Tim Cook's band of merry men have not only removed the MagSafe Connector, but also the Function keys from above the keyboard, to be replaced by the simply stunning Retina ready Touch Bar panel. This new bar is a dynamic experience that shifts its behaviour and offering based on the currently running application, but it also includes and embedded Touch ID sensor with underlying secure enclave built directly into the power button. Authentication of purchases, logging in users and secure payment using Apple Pay all handled through one single sensor.