Apple TV and HBO Now
Apple kicked off its press event by unveiling an exclusive partnership with HBO that’ll bring the network’s new standalone streaming service to the Apple TV. The Apple-only content stream will launch in April with a monthly subscription cost of $14.99. To encourage customers to check out HBO Now and its media player, Apple has cut the price of the Apple TV by $30, lowering it from $99 to a very affordable $69.
Apple Pay and Apple CarPlay
As a minor part of its presentation, Apple today confirmed that its mobile payment service, Apple Pay, now extends to 2,500 banks and over 700,000 retail locations across the US. Vending machines are becoming an important conduit for Apple Pay, with Coca-Cola operating 4,000 Apple Pay-enabled machines in the US. The soda maker plans to increase that number to 100,000 by the end of 2015.
Apple CarPlay also got a mention by Tim Cook, who confirmed that the automotive technology will be available in 40 new vehicles by the end of 2015. According to Cook, every major automobile manufacturer has committed to CarPlay in one form or another.
Announced today by Apple, ResearchKit is a new software framework that has been designed for medical research purposes. The initiative allows hospitals, universities, and other research teams to utilize the iPhone as a data-producing diagnostic tool in medical research studies such as those examining diabetes, asthma, and Parkinson’s Disease. ResearchKit will pull its data from iOS devices and the Apple Watch via HealthKit in a secure manner that protects a user’s privacy. The program will be opt-in only for iOS owners willing to participate in a study, and Apple will not be able to see the data being transmitted to the researchers. ResearchKit will be released in April and will be open source.
Apple took the wraps off the long-rumored 12-inch MacBook notebook. Branded simply as “MacBook,” the notebook features a 12.1-inch Retina display, a new Force touch trackpad, a new all-metal unibody design and a single USB-C connector that’ll provide both charging and peripheral connectivity in one port. Under the hood, the MacBook will be powered by an Intel Core M processor clocked at 1.1 or 1.3GHz, Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU and a new contoured battery that provides “all-day” power.
The base model of the new MacBook will be available for $1,299 and features a 1.1GHz dual-core Core M processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB of flash storage. A 1.3GHZ model with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage will be available for $1599. Color options include silver, space gray and gold. The notebook will go on sale starting April 10th. If you need more details on the new Mac, please read our coverage from today:
- 12-inch MacBook first impressions roundup
- There’s a $79 accessory that replaces all those missing MacBook ports
MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh
Apple didn’t forget about its existing MacBook Air and Pro, announcing minor upgrades to the two notebook lineups. Both models will ship with faster 5th generation Intel Core iX processors and improved flash storage. The early-2015 13-inch MacBook Pro also will include a Force Touch trackpad and 10 hours of all-day battery life.
Apple Retail, sales and incredible numbers
Apple always throws out statistics about its current state of operations, and the March 2015 press event was no exception. The company confirmed that its 453 retail stores worldwide were visited by more than 120 million customers in the year-ending 2014 holiday quarter. Cook also noted that the company continues to expand its retail footprint, opening six stores in the last six weeks. The company plans to continue its rollout in China with the scheduled opening of 19 new stores by the middle of next year.
On the iPhone front, Cook announced that the company recently sold it 700 millionth iPhone and recorded a 49 percent year-over-year increase in sales. Sales are exploding and so is customer satisfaction with surveys showing a 99 percent consumer satisfaction rate among iPhone owners.
Following its Apple Watch event, Apple today released iOS 8.2 to the public. The latest version of iOS includes a new “Apple Watch” app that’ll allow Watch owners to customize their wearable device. Please read our coverage from today for additional information in iOS 8.2:
- Apple to release iOS 8.2 with companion Apple Watch app today
- Has Apple made it even more difficult to jailbreak iOS 8.2?
- How to Install iOS 8.2 Update on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
Apple Watch sales start April 24
During today’s press event, Apple spent a significant amount of time demoing the Apple Watch, rehashing many of the details presented when the Watch was first unveiled last year. Following these demos, Apple got to the most important part of the press event — the pricing and launch details for the Apple Watch.
Apple announced that its Watch wearable will go on sale beginning April 24th with a base price tag of $349. This $349 investment will purchase a 38mm Apple Watch Sport with a basic fluoroelastomer Sport band in one of five colors. This price will climb as users choose the larger 42mm sized Watch, which costs $50 more than its smaller counterpart. Additional bands also are available with prices ranging from $49 to $449. Apple will start accepting pre-orders for the Watch starting April 10th. Please read our coverage from today if you need even more details about the Apple Watch:
- Apple Watch video roundup offers a first glimpse at the upcoming wearable
- Apple Watch pricing details revealed
- Apple Watch Release date, Preorders and availability details
- Apple will offer AppleCare+ for the Watch lineup, another year provided for Watch Edition
- Apple posts videos covering Watch materials, the new MacBook, and more from ‘Spring Forward’ event
- Apple Watch app for iPhone walkthrough: Pairing with Apple Watch, Installing Apple Watch apps and more
- The Apple Watch Sport will apparently come with two bands in the box
- What do you think about the Apple Watch’s price?
- Apple Watch bands and accessory prices revealed
- Apple Watch boasts 18 hours of ‘all-day’ battery life [Updated]
We would like to thank everyone who joined our liveblog for Apple’s event earlier today.
Let us know what you think of today’s event. What excited you the most?