Apple Unveils iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, Apple Pen, New Apple TV

(Glenn Derene/Consumer Reports)

(Glenn Derene/Consumer Reports)

Come once again, Apple faithful and skeptics alike, to the Tim Cook Show starring Apple CEO Tim Cook & His Menagerie Of Shiny New Electronic Devices That You Will Want To Replace The Next Time He Holds One Of These Events.

Cook, not exactly known for getting to the point during these press events, started today’s presentation by promising “monster announcements across several of our product lines.”

iPHONE
After nearly 90 minutes of showing off the below products, Apple finally unveiled its new selection of iPhones — the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus:
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Cook claims that these are the “most advanced smartphones… in the world,” but he’s probably not an unbiased source on that.

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In addition to a new aluminum for the case (available in four colors), these devices will include a new technology dubbed “3D Touch” that detects the level of force and allows for new tactile interactions between the standard tapping and pinching.

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Apple gave the example of looking at your list of e-mails and wanting to just take a quick peek at one without opening it. You can press firmly on that message and it will pop out in front of the rest of the screen until you release. When you let go, it automatically takes you back to the e-mail list.

Likewise, you can preview a website linked in an e-mail without having to open a web browser. Or you can peek in to an app from the homescreen for specific tasks that don’t require opening the app, like dropping a pin of your current location on Apple Maps or liking a photo on Instagram.

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The iPhone 6S fingerprint sensor has been improved, with Apple claiming it is up to twice as fast as the current sensor.

The devices’ main camera is now 12 megapixels, while the user-facing FaceTime camera has been upgraded to 5 megapixels:

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And the phones will shoot ultra-HD 4K video, for owners of newer TVs and displays that support this level of resolution, and for fans of hyper-real video footage.

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Most interestingly, the 6S and 6S Plus will now take what the company calls “Live Photos,” which capture footage for about a second either side of taking a photo. So when you use the 3D Touch interface and press on one of these Live Photos, you’ll suddenly see it come to life with movement and sound for a couple of seconds. Apple says that this is done in a way that minimizes storage space so that these images don’t hog memory.

In an attempt to woo over Android users, Apple will be releasing an app — on the Android Store — that aids in the transition of Android device data to a new iPhone 6S or 6S Plus.

How much? Depends. For those who can still get two-year contract pricing with their wireless carriers, the 6S and 6S Plus will start at $199 and $299, respectively.

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But since most U.S. consumers now pay for their phones through installment plans, Apple provided these approximate monthly rates for two-year installment plans:
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Apple is also going to be offering its own new upgrade program that charges $32/month and lets members upgrade to a new phone every year. Phones through this plan come unlocked and can be taken to any carrier that works with iPhone.
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When will these be available? Pre-orders in the U.S. start Sept. 12 and the devices are in stores Sept. 25.

iPAD PRO
For Apple’s signature tablet, Cook promised the “biggest news in iPad since the iPad.” The iPad Pro has the biggest screen (12.9″) in any iOS device to date.

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With the bigger display (5.6 million pixels), explained Apple’s Phil Schiller, movies are more cinematic, games are more immersive, users have access to a bigger keyboard (more on that in a moment), and some apps will be able to be split-screen for side-by-side use. A Microsoft exec was on hand to show how Office users could multitask on the Pro.

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The variable refresh rate of the new display also means the iPad can conserve energy when the screen isn’t actively showing video. With this and other system updates, the battery in the Pro is expected to last 10 hours.

In terms of speed, Apple says the new chip in the Pro is 1.8x faster than the speediest iPad currently available. The company claims the new tablet’s graphics are faster than 90% of portable computers shipped in the last year. The tablet is louder too, putting out three times the volume of the current iPad.

Apple is following the lead of the Microsoft Surface and offering a physical “smart” keyboard that is integrated into the iPad Pro’s cover. It attaches and communicates with the Pro via magnetic connections in the case.

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Another accessory being offered with the Pro is the Apple Pencil stylus. Its sensors work with the iPad to determine position, angle, and force of each pen stroke. The company claims the Pen is precise enough to draw a single pixel. It’s wireless and its battery can be recharged via a Lightning plug that connects directly into the Pro.

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While previous iPad announcements have focused on entertainment and hobbyist applications, the company is now clearly targeting business customers with the iPad Pro. The demonstrations highlighted productivity with Microsoft Office, its publishing applications with Adobe, and its use for the medical community.

If there was any doubt about the Pro — which will be sold in silver, gold, and “space gray” — being aimed at corporate customers, the price confirms this is not an entry-level tablet.

The lowest-cost Pro starts at $799 and comes with 32GB of storage memory and goes up to $1,079 for 128GB.

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The Apple Pen will go for $99, while the Smart Keyboard will sell for $169. Both the tablets and the accessories will go on sale in November.

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For affordable iPads, Apple is introducing the iPad Mini 4, which apparently has the same power as the current iPad Air 2, but at a smaller size. In addition to this new device, the company has dropped prices on the existing lineup of iPads:

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APPLE TV
“Our vision for TV is simple, and perhaps a little provocative,” said Cook. “The future of television is apps.”
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The Apple TV’s new remote includes features that you’ll find on a number of already existing smart TVs and streaming devices — like the touch screen favored by new Samsung sets, and voice search found on Amazon Fire TV. One new feature is an accelerometer that allows the remote to be used as a game controller.

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Apple claims that its Siri voice integration is an improvement that will allow you to look, not just for titles or names, but for specific episodes of shows.

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Siri can also provide onscreen responses to questions while you’re watching Apple TV. So you can ask for sports scores, weather, etc., and the answer will show up along the bottom of whatever you’re watching.

The big news is that searching on Apple TV will show users results from multiple apps — Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Showtime — rather than having to search through each app. Samsung had reportedly been working on a remote control feature like this but recently abandoned its development.

Gilt was on hand to demonstrate how you can shop on Apple TV, in case you hadn’t figured out how to do that on your computer, or phone, or in a store.

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And Major League Baseball showed off its app, which didn’t appear much different than what MLB already offers for streaming on gaming consoles and smart TVs.

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So how much? Two versions will be available, starting at $149:

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APPLE WATCH
In news that not very many people will care about, Apple and upscale fashion label Hermes have partnered on a deluxe Apple Watch Hermes with a fancy leather band that wraps around your wrist twice — presumably to add some extra protection against pilferers.

(Glenn Derene/Consumer Reports)

(Glenn Derene/Consumer Reports)

Also, the Apple Watch Sport is getting three new colored metal cases — gold, rose gold, anodized aluminum — at the same price as the rest of the Apple Watch Sport lineup.