Apple’s Special Events are often treated with the atmosphere and awe of a Hollywood red carpet gala, with every tech and media outlet present while online chatter creates waves of anticipation and buzz. This year’s Spring Forward Event on Monday, didn’t feature a guest appearance by U2 or release a new version of the iPhone but it still provided the tech-savvy, Silicon Valley audience with plenty of fun, flair and fodder that was more than enough material for the news outlets, tech bloggers, and the social media crowd watching at home to analyze and discuss. Part of Monday’s festivities included the introduction of the Apple Watch, a new MacBook, a Game of Thrones trailer and an appearance by model-turned-activist Christy Turlington Burns.
While the Spring Forward event wasn’t just the “Apple Watch Show” there’s no doubt that Apple’s first new product in some time was the star of the party. Here are some of our takeaways from this week’s Apple Special Event:
The Apple Watch is Cool…
There’s no doubt that the Apple Watch is an innovative addition to the line of Apple Products. With an 18 hour battery life and seamless integration with its nifty Workout and Move apps, the Apple Watch could motivate users to get off the couch, turn off the Game of Thrones on HBO Now streaming from their Apple TVs (more on that later) and hop on the treadmill. It also has the potential to improve the data and communication flow of the healthcare industry by tracking users and improving research. In addition, the Watch could act as a sort of medium between our daily lives and our smartphones – tasks such as checking in at an airport, making a purchase with ApplePay or viewing e-mails or text messages can all be done easier and quicker by simply tapping your Apple Watch rather than whipping the smart phone out.
…But is it a Must-Have?
The biggest question for Apple and its investors will be the initial sales with a staggered international release and a rabid early-adapter following combined with a hungry East Asian market. The three models also have confirmed pricing: The Sport will start at $349, the Watch at $549 and the Edition at $10,000 (and no, I did not accidentally hit an extra “zero”). While early adapters, tech-fans, Apple fanboys and those with plenty of disposable incomes will certainly be first in line when the Apple Watch is released on April 24th, it remains to be seen how general consumers will react when the Apple Watch hits the shelves at those prices. It will certainly be a cool product, but CEO Tim Cook is hoping that Apple’s newest product will prove to be cool, innovative and practical enough to buy.
The Sleek, Efficient, New MacBook
The Apple Watch wasn’t the only attraction on Monday’s Spring Forward Event. While it may have been a bad year for notebooks as a whole (shrinking nearly 2% overall), the MacBook line continued to see steady growth in a down fiscal year for laptop computers with a robust 21% increase. Those numbers should continue to maintain their trend into 2015 with the introduction of a new line of MacBooks. Weighing only 2 lbs and 13.1 mm thin, the new MacBook will be both the lightest and thinest notebook Apple has ever made. As a nice aesthetic feature, the new MacBook will be available in three separate colors: gold, silver, and space black.
Adios MacBook Air?
But the appearance is only part of what makes the new MacBook so appealing. A new USB-C port can recharge as well as connect to a wider range of peripherals such as printers, cameras, external storage and monitors. A “butterfly” keyboard mechanism will replace the old scissor system for a more stable, precise and thinner keyboard for typing along with an LED under every key for a uniform glow. Trackpad updates uses sensors to allow clicking from anyplace on the trackpad along with motion sensing “diving board” technology to provide a greater sense of functionality. Compared to the current MacBook air, the new MacBook will have a better retina display (2304×1440 pixel versus 1366×768 for the Air), will be lighter (.92kg versus 1.08kg), and will come equipped with more memory (8Gb RAM versus either 4Gb or 8Gb). Using 30% less energy, becoming the first fan-less MacBook ever and a longer battery life, we’re guessing the new generation MacBook will take over from the original MacBook air into the next era of Apple products.
Apple TV and Christy Turlington Burns
For television owners that hate cords, the next generation of Apple TV will be a worthy competitor to products like Amazon Fire, Roku and Google Chromecast and at $69, gives users another reason to ditch their television subscription. HBO Now will join the list of apps on the device which I’m sure will delight Game of Thrones fans, eagerly anticipating the start of Season 5 in April. To conclude, Cook and former supermodel-turned activist Christy Turlington Burns took the stage to display how the Apple Watch has enhanced her work with the global non-profit, Every Mother Counts as well as her personal goals of competing in marathons. While some tech critics were uninspired by her presence, Turlington Burn’s appearance for the Apple avoided much of the negative publicity that happened last Fall, when iPhone users woke up to see a new U2 album on their device, with no way of deleting it.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from past Apple Events, it is that it will take time to view the results of the multiple products, services and systems Apple introduced. It may be weeks to months to discover items like whether the Apple Watch will be the next big thing to hit the technology world, if the refined Apple TV can compete with other streaming services, the future success of the new MacBook or how closely Season 5 of Game of Thrones interpretation sticks to the book version (Sorry, got sidetracked. I’m pretty excited for Season 5 also). Overall, the Apple Spring Forward event provided exactly what the tech giant wanted: needed publicity during a normally stagnant period of the year.
Apple Events are a much-watch event for those in the tech world everywhere and Monday’s Spring Forward not only released the newest Apple Product and other updates but also got literally the entire globe talking about Apple for a few hours. That’s exactly what an worldwide technology event is supposed to do. I’d say that’s a success in any definition of the term.
We’d love to hear what you think about the Apple Spring Forward event, the Apple Watch, the new MacBook or even Game of Thrones. You all can post questions in the comments section below or shoot me an e-mail with your technology questions.