Questions and Answers with Kim about Apple's announcements
To read the play-by-play of Apple announcements, it's on page 2
Q. Steve Jobs made it no secret that he wanted to dramatically change the way we watch television. It’s archaic. Today’s announcement of the new Apple TV is a game changer for home entertainment. Can you tell us a few things about the new device?
It’s a complete overhaul. While the case looks the same, it’s taller, and jammed packed with new and improved technology ... including an A8 processor that’s running the new tvOS.
The device includes Siri for intelligent voice search and it can run apps from the Apple App Store, including games.
And check this out – the remote contains a touchpad – so you can use it as a game controller.
The new Apple TV also offers universal search. That means you can look for shows on any app you’ve installed, including iTunes, Netflix, HBO and Hulu.
Another cool element of the new device is the interaction you have with Siri. Ask it things like “What did she say? And your show or movie will jump back 15 seconds so you can watch it again.
Apple TV even allows you to get caught up on the ballgame while you’re still watching the show.
This is truly a game changer in home entertainment.
Q. Playing games on the Apple TV sounds like a big deal for Apple. Do you think many people are going to buy it for that reason?
Hardcore gamers are going to stick with their Xboxes and PlayStations, and most families are probably going to stick with a Wii or individual iPads and smartphones. For some people, it might tip the balance in Apple TV's favor over other streaming gadgets, but probably not many. Don't forget, Amazon, Roku and Google all offer gaming apps as well.
The remote is a nice touch, and you can play games with up to four players using iPhones and iPod touches, but your Android-loving friends won't be able to join in.
Q. Do you think the new Apple TV will get more people to switch away from cable?
It's a nice upgrade for Apple TV, but it isn't anything we haven't seen before with any other set-top box. Most of the people who are going to buy it are people upgrading from older Apple TV units. There's nothing compelling to get anyone to ditch cable.
And one big sticking point is the price tag. At $149 for the 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model, it's far more expensive than the other options on the market, most of which are under $100 and even as low as $30. Of course, it also has more storage than any of them.
Q. Apple opened the event by talking about the Apple Watch. Is that an indication that it's one of its premier products now?
Every Apple Watch owner I talk to falls into one of two camps. Either they really love it or they returned it. Apple is putting a lot of resources toward the Watch, with WatchOS2 and a growing number of useful Watch apps, such as Facebook Messenger and a medical app called Airstrip.
The Airstrip app does look very interesting as it tracks your vitals in real time and can share them with your doctor. It also displays past lab results, and it can even monitor pregnant women and their growing babies.
New apps, plus new watch bands developed with Hermes and new styles for the cheaper Watches, prove that Apple is really committed to the Watch, but I still don't think it's a seller for most people.
Also, this Apple event ordered the announcements from the least important to the most important, ending with the new iPhones.
Q. Let's talk about those new iPhones. What was new and are they worth the money to upgrade?
The new iPhones are called the 6s and the 6s Plus. In the past the "s" models have been minor upgrades to the previous version. This time around Apple did a bit more than minor tweaking.
Overall, the phones look the same, aside from the new "Rose Gold" case color. However, the case is a new custom "7000 series" aluminum alloy that's specific to Apple and the glass is a brand new technology called Ion-X that's stronger than the glass in the 6.
The big new feature, however, is 3D Touch and the Taptic Engine.
With 3D Touch, how hard you press on the screen determines what happens. So, if you press lightly on an icon it will open the app, but if you press hard it will bring up a menu that lets you perform common tasks for that app right away, like taking a photo or calling a frequent contact. The Taptic Engine creates different length buzzes depending on how hard you press, so you get more feedback on what you're doing.
Inside, the processor got upgraded from the 6's A8 to the A9, which is supposed to be 70% faster with 90% faster graphics. The Touch ID is now second generation, although Apple didn't go into what that means.
There's a brand new 12-megapixel iSight camera, which replaces the aging 8-megapixel one in the last few iPhones. It uses fancy technology like "deep trench isolation" to improve image quality, and can shoot 4K video (in case you really want to fill up your phone's storage).
If you currently own an iPhone 5S or earlier, the 6S or 6S Plus are definitely worth the money to upgrade. For those with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you're OK waiting for the iPhone 7, unless you really want 3D Touch and the new camera.
The new models start at $199 for the 6S and $299 for the 6S Plus. However, those starting models have 16GB of storage, and that's going to fill up fast with the new 12MP camera and 4K video.
Q. It seems like Apple has been playing catch-up with Samsung's Galaxy smartphones on screen size and other features. Did you see any new iPhone features that put it ahead of Samsung?
3D Touch is something Samsung doesn't have yet, and that's a potentially huge feature for Apple. It could take Samsung a generation or two to have something similar, which is what happened with the fingerprint readers.
Most of the other features Apple introduced, such as Live Photos, are software-based, so Samsung can copy them fairly easily.
Apple did take a crack at Android phones by uploading an Android app to the Google Play store that helps you transfer your information to an iOS gadget.
Q. I think everyone who wanted an iPad has one by now. The iPad Pro looks too big to carry around. Who’s the perfect buyer?
Apple is targeting the growing number of people who want to replace their computer with a tablet, but think tablet screens are too small. That's why it has the large 12.9-inch screen and why Apple is claiming "desktop class performance."
It's also aiming for professionals like writers, artists, engineers and doctors, which is why Apple took a page from Microsoft and is offering a physical keyboard for easier typing and a stylus for drawing and note-taking.
The iPad Pro's screen is also large enough for comfortable multitasking, which is a new feature for Apple in iOS 9, making this another stepping stone on Apple's road to merging traditional computers and mobile.
Of course, starting at $799, the iPad Pro isn't much of a bargain for people who could buy a new PC for less than $500. And if you go for the upper end model, and throw in the Apple Pencil and Smart keyboard it costs over $1,300, which is more than an entry-level MacBook Air laptop. So it will be interesting to see who ends up buying it.
Q. Steve Jobs was famously against adding a stylus to the iPad. Why did Apple reverse that decision with Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro?
When Apple came out with the first iPad, styluses were the old way of doing things, and touch, especially multitouch, was revolutionary.
Now that we've had touch for a while, we've seen what its good at and what it isn't so good at. There's a thriving third-party stylus market for iPads. Samsung has had the S-Pen for a while and the Microsoft Surface has a stylus, and it goes over well with professionals and avid note-takers.
Apple is going with the flow, and it probably wants to get back the note-takers, artists and others who have wandered away from its mobile products. That's one reason it had Microsoft and Adobe up on stage showing off productivity and art apps.
Q. Last year, Apple upgraded the iPad Air to the iPad Air 2 and left the iPad mini relatively untouched. Why did it reverse that this year?
The jump from the iPad mini 2 to the iPad mini 3 was disappointing because Apple just added a touch ID sensor to the existing product. The new iPad mini 4 now has the same hardware as the iPad Air 2 in a smaller package for $399.
It makes sense Apple wouldn't update the Air 2 this time around because the only upgrade would be the same hardware as the iPad Pro. Apple is going to wait a year to make that move for the iPad and probably bring along the Force Touch screen from the iPhone 6s.
Apple seems to be taking a leapfrog approach with the iPads to make sure the smaller models don't compete against the larger ones.
Q. There is always a lot of hype leading up to Apple's events about new iPhones, iPads and the other gadgets consumers love so much, and this year is no exception. Now that Apple's event is over for another year, was the hype justified?
The upgrades to the iPhone were certainly impressive and worth some hype, although most of those leaked beforehand. The same goes for the iPad Pro, and the high price point is a bit of a letdown.
I expected a little more from the Apple TV. While it was a nice upgrade, everyone was hoping Apple would announce something bigger like a literal Apple TV or exclusive deals with major studios for content or some other game changer. It sounds like Apple might be working toward that, but it isn't there yet.