Over the last few weeks I’ve been quite unwell, and as anybody that knows me will tell you, I am pretty much the quintessential Apple fanboy so the recent news from Apple regarding their various updates were something I have been quite looking forward to hearing.
When I first heard about the original iPhone I really didn’t think it would ever equate to much, and after seeing a couple of generations I realized just how wrong I was there. Then after the 3GS had been out for a while and I saw those around me getting this shiny new device that was doing things I wanted to do that I hadn’t seen on any phone previously I became quite jealous and so I had to take it upon myself to send my wife to go and get me this newfangled device. And that was it – that’s where my obsession with the fruit started. Since that day I have owned pretty much every version of the iPhone excluding the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G and the new iPhone 5c. That means I have owned or still own the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S (x2 though one is for work), iPhone 5 and now the iPhone 5S, the original iPad and the iPad with Retina Display.
If you combine that with the other iOS devices in our household, that’s an iPod 4th gen, another iPhone 5, 2 original iPad minis & Apple TV as well as my Mac. As you can see, Apple has become a central entertain hub for my household.
So a few weeks back Apple announced 2 new iPhones, the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C. I pretty much dismissed the iPhone 5C out of hand as to me it looks like a step backwards with its plastic casing. Having handled one it certainly doesn’t feel cheap, but its not of the same build quality as my iPhone 5 was, and as I’m not really interested in the different colours that its comes in, and because I am put off by the plastic and the fact that it is effectively just a repackaged iPhone 5 I decided against this device.
Instead I opted to go for the new iPhone 5S, and I went down the Gold route seeing as how I have owned both black and white iPhones I wanted to go for something different. I was worried initially that it would look a bit tacky but the champagne colour is very understated and it really does look stunningly gorgeous and I am really happy that I replaced by black iPhone 5 with this device.
Features wise there is one feature on this phone that stands it above all other phones and that it Touch ID. This is an amazing feature to have on the device meaning only my fingerprints can unlock it. You do still have to set up a passcode as a failsafe just in case you have an industrial accident and lose your fingers and the phone allows you to unlock using either, but it was brilliant watching my mother in law try to unlock my phone and failing, and the look of disbelief when I simple placed my finger on the home button was priceless.
Add to this the fact that you can configure iTunes and App store purchases to be authorized using Touch ID, this has fast become my favourite feature ever on any iOS device that is probably used 50 times a day or more, unlike Siri which I initially thought was brilliant, but has since become a novelty that rarely gets used. This has created one small issue for me though. Every time I go to use one of the other iOS devices I keep trying to use Touch ID and it takes my brain a second to realize they don’t have it so is certainly making my other devices seem like they are stuck in the dark ages a little bit.
The other really cool feature that Apple added is the slow-motion camera. I’ve had quite a bit of fun with this. The best use was to film a leak I had under my sink. Watching it back and seeing it catch the tiny individual droplets of water in stunning detail I must say I am impressed.
Obviously there was the update to iOS7 as well. This has been a touch bittersweet for me. The upgrade on my iPhone 5 was great, I had no issues at all, and I’ve had no issues with my 5S on iOS7, however when I upgraded my 3rd gen iPad to iOS7 I have noticed a considerable slow-down in performance, even doing something as simple as browsing. I had a look at a few forums and it seems quite a few people have been afflicted with the same issue and it looks like the hardware in that iPad can only just cope with the demands of iOS7 so I am thinking of putting it back on iOS6 as that was lovely and fast, and most of the features of iOS7 I would only use on my iPhone anyway. I also told my wife not to upgrade her iPad 2 to iOS7 as if my 3rd gen device had some slow down issues I dread to think of the issues the iPad 2 might experience.
Other than that I love the new iOS7. The new control center is excellent, as is the ability to AirDrop so overall I think I can say my experience thus far with iOS7 has been a positive one.
Now tonight was Apples other event for their other hardware. I was a little disappointed that there was no update for the Apple TV and that there was no sign of the fabled iWatch of Apple HDTV. Instead the event concentrated on their Macs and iPad lines as well as some really nice announcements about software.
Having not bought a new Mac Mini too long ago I wasn’t really than concerned with what they were doing on this front, but there were some interesting updates on the Mac Pro and the Macbook Pro. The cool announcements though were to do with OSX Mavericks, the replacement for Mountain Lion. Apple have taken a bold step and announced that it would be FREE! Compare that to its main rival Windows 8 and that retails at a massive £189.99. What a move by the guys in Cupertino. I was massively impressed by this announcement, and whats more it should be available today, though at the time of writing this it wasn’t in the Mac App Store just yet, though I don’t really mind waiting until tomorrow.
The other pretty cool announcement was to do with Apps. They announced that their creativity and productivity apps were going to be free to anybody who purchased a new iOS device or Mac. That includes the iWork apps of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Garage Band, iMovie, iPhoto. If you add the cost of all of those up you are looking at well over £50 worth of apps. The equivalent Office suite from Microsoft starts at £110, so with Mavericks and the iWork suite Apple is undercutting Microsoft’s £300 by £300. Microsoft may need to do something here as they are being left in the dust by Apple at the moment.
The other major announcements from Apple were to do with iPad and these were the announcements I was most looking forward to. Last year Apple updated their iPad line with 2 new iPads, firstly the full size iPad they called the iPad with Retina Display and then the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini suffered slightly from a lack of a retina display, but other than that was a really solid device that looks great and does everything a full sized iPad can do. I didn’t upgrade my iPad at the time but if I had I would have gone for the full size iPad over the iPad Mini simply because the full size iPad was that bit more powerful with what I believe was either the A6 or A6x chip whereas the iPad Mini has the A5 which is the same as the one in the iPad 2.
So today there were updates to both. The biggest change being to the iPad Mini. Apple have given it a retina display, and every other update the new iPad called iPad Air (which has been slimmed down by reducing the bezel size) got, so did the Mini get. This means that other than size, the iPad Air and the iPad Mini are identical. They have the exact same specifications and features meaning I have a bit of a dilemma. Which one should I go for? Am I really that bothered about having a 9.7” screen of the iPad Air or will the 7.9” screen of the Mini do me? Or hell, do I just buy both. The original mini started at £269, and has now been dropped to £249. The new model now starts at £319 but does match the Air on specs and that starts at £399, so is the extra screen real estate worth the £80 difference on the base models? I really can’t decide.
I was disappointed slightly though in that neither of the new iPad models got the new Touch ID feature that the iPhone 5S has meaning if I do upgrade to one of these models I will still have the same brain fail whenever I switch between devices and try to use Touch ID and fail as its not there. The rest of the updates were fairly incremental as you would expect from ever improving devices, and Apple did like to play a fair few videos of their product launches and relating ads, though I don’t think any ad they’ve done since the touching ads for Facetime when the iPhone 4 came out have really caught my attention too much.
So will I be upgrading my iPad – yes, though I have no idea which one I will get yet……..