Apple Reveals New Versions of iPad, iPhone and Apple TV

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 suggested the iPad Pro was suited to work tasks, video games and both editing and watching movies.

Sales of the company’s earlier iPads had been on the decline.

Apple said the “3D touch” feature of its new phones “transformed” the experience of using them by making it easier to use and switch between apps.

Huawei demonstrated its own version of the feature – which it called “force touch” – at its own launch event last week.

iPhone upgrade

Apple3D Touch allows menus to be activated by firmly pressing the handsets’ screens

The idea behind the new iPhone 6s & 6s Plus’ 3D Touch feature is that users can call up different functions by pressing the handsets’ screens firmly.

Examples of how it can be used include:

  • previewing an email or photo
  • swapping weapons in a video game
  • quickly switching into selfie photo mode

‘Peek and Pop’ allows you to preview content and act on it without actually opening it – for example, with a light touch you can ‘Peek’ at an email in your inbox and if you want to open it, press a little harder to ‘Pop’ into it.

The handsets also gain the ability to shoot 4K videos using the new ‘iSight’ camera – which means four times the amount of pixels of 1080p high definition video. This benefits from improved temporal and spacial noise reduction with optical image stabilisation for photo and videos.

iPhonesThe iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus come in a new colour as well as offering 3D Touch

A new feature – Live Photos – bring your images to life, capturing 1.5 seconds of movement and sound before and after the photo is taken, allowing your images to come to life simply by pressing anywhere on the photo.

In addition, their back cameras have been upgraded to offer 12 megapixels rather than eight – Apple said it had ensured the extra resolution had not come at the cost of more noise.

The iPhones also get a processor boost. They will go on sale in a fortnight’s time.

One expert remarked that the upgrades were not as big as had been seen in some years, but were likely still enough to continue year-on-year sales gains.

ManufacturerHandset shipments between July 2014 and June 2015Year-on-year change
Apple222.45 million+35.9%
Samsung310.02 million-6.9%
Huawei87.02 million+38.2%
Xiaomi67.72 million+91.8%
Lenovo (incl Motorola)85.35 million+11.1%
LG45.09 million-13.6%
Source: IDC

The new A9 processor gives the iPhone new levels of performance and efficiency with up to 70% improved CPU performance and up to 90% improved graphics performance on previous generations.

Apple also promises faster 4G LTE (up to 300 Mbps) and Wi-Fi (up to 866 Mbps)

“In developed markets Apple has a huge potential to sell to existing iPhone users who were not able to upgrade when the iPhone 6 launched because they were tied to contracts and then decided to wait until now,” commented Francisco Jeronimo from the research firm IDC.

“But in markets like China it’s about attracting new users.

“Those who were not attracted by the iPhone before will probably continue not to be interested.

“For the others, the new features themselves will not make a significant difference – it’s more important for Apple to grow awareness of its products.”

Bigger iPad

The iPad Pro has a 12.9in (32.8cm) display, making its shortest edge the length of its earlier iPad Air 2’s height.

Apple sold 19% fewer iPads between the start of October and the end of June as it did during the same period a year earlier.

One expert suggested that the new model could reinvigorate sales.

“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 cannibalisation 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.”

Apple said the new 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 – which resembles a similar accessory for Microsoft’s Surface tablet.

In addition, the firm announced a stylus called the Apple Pencil, which has sensors in its tip to help mimic the effect of using a real pencil on paper.

The announcement is notable since the firm’s ex-chief executive Steve Jobs said in 2010: “If you see a stylus, they blew it.”

Apple said 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 (£520 to £702) depending on its level of storage and 4G connectivity.

The Pencil costs $99 and the keyboard $169.

Analysis: Dave Lee, North America technology reporter

Tablet computing is great, but it could be said that the iPad’s Achilles heel was that it was great as a consuming device, but if you wanted to really do something, get work done, it wasn’t ideal.

Apple is trying to address that with the iPad Pro. It’s enormous, but not bulky, even if it does come in heavier than the original iPad at 1.67lbs (0.76kg).

Crucially, it has some intriguing input devices.

It’s easy to scoff at Apple making a crowd cheer and whoop at a “pencil”, but it’s a big step forward for the most popular tablet on the market.

Making the iPad a “doing” service makes it a really formidable product, and one that should eat into netbook sales.

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