Last week new iPhones appeared along with a giant iPad and a major upgrade to the Apple TV. As I do every year, after watching Apple present the new gadgets I checked out everything online to determine what is worth my money and what isn't.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus represent typical upgrades for Apple. Much the same as last year's models, the major improvements are inside the handsets. It's impressive that Apple was able to make significant bumps in the processor and graphics while keeping the battery life the same.
Even so, when I look at my iPhone 6 Plus from last year I find it performs well. I don't wish it was faster in normal operation and I don't play games so the graphics bump won't affect me. Since the new iPhones sacrifice longer battery life for the better performance, I won't gain much if anything to trade in my iPhone 6 Plus for the iPhone 6s Plus.
See related: iPhone 6 Plus: Changing the way I work in a big way
The iPhone 6 Plus made a big difference in my daily use and my work as soon as I bought it last year. That's still true today and I don't see the new iPhone improving that in any way.
The 3D Touch function on the new iPhones looks promising, but I don't see it making a big improvement over what I have now. That may be different in practice but I use my current iPhone heavily daily and don't find it onerous to move from one activity to another.
It sort of reminds me of WIndows 8. A lot of complaints were made when that version of Windows was released due to all of the hidden functionality. Those were functions that had no controls onscreen and had to be invoked by certain touch gestures. That's what 3D Touch looks like to me.
While 3D Touch may become intuitive over time, it's not compelling to me at this point.
I bought my iPhone on the first day of availability last year so I've owned it as long as anyone. I look at the iPhone 6 Plus and I still feel like it's brand new. Perhaps Apple made it too well as I don't feel it's old and have no desire to replace it.
Verdict: A new iPhone is not in my future.
The new iPad looks massive, and the size has me on the fence about getting one. Having long used an iPad with a keyboard for work, I have no doubt that the iPad Pro would be a good work system for me when coupled with Apple's keyboard.
The doubt about the iPad Pro I have is that I use my iPad Air 2 without a keyboard more than I do with one. I like my tablets to be big enough to be useful for work, which has come to mean about a 10-inch display, yet comfortable to use in the hand for extended periods. The iPad Air 2 and Surface 3 are great to use without a keyboard due to the small size compared to the giant iPad Pro.
That 12.9-inch screen on the iPad Pro looks nice but I'm not sure how good it will be to use as a tablet. Perhaps the thin form will make it work as desired, but I'll have to try it to see.
I've been using the iOS 9 public beta on my iPad Air 2 and the Split View is wonderful even on the 9.7-inch screen. This may be really nice on the iPad Pro since you can put two full-sized apps on the big display at once. This alone may push me to the iPad Pro once I try it.
The new keyboard for the iPad Pro looks really useful and I'm sure I would like it. While the fabric covered keys may put some folks off, having used a similar keyboard I know it will work fine.
Look at the photo above comparing the Logitech Keys-To-Go with the new Apple keyboard and you'll see how similar the keys are. I found the Logitech to be quite good in my review and the same should hold true for the Apple keyboard.
There are a lot of choices for keyboards for the iPad Air 2 and we can expect the same for the iPad Pro. There are already third-party keyboards planned for the iPad Pro so those not comfortable with the sealed keys of the Apple model will have lots of options soon after the tablet is released. Most will use the Smart Connect feature of the iPad Pro, an improvement over the standard Bluetooth systems that are in use for iPad Air 2 keyboards.
The Apple Pencil may be a good extension of the iPad Pro, but this will take hands on time to determine. I'm not an artist and Apple only demonstrated that use at the unveiling. My only need with the pencil would be for handwriting, and I don't think it was an oversight that Apple didn't show this use case.
For handwriting to be viable on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, palm rejection and zero lag are mandatory. I'll have to see first-hand if that's the case.
Verdict: An iPad Pro may be coming down the road for me after I can try it. It's worth noting that I'm happy with my iPad mini 3 and see no additional value in the iPad mini 4.
Of all the products shown at the press event last week, the one that excites me most is the Apple TV. Having long been happy with the old model, the new one looks like it will revolutionize entertainment at home.
The combination of the new interface, the touch remote, and Siri integration should work together to make it easy to mine the huge library of shows to find just what I'm looking for. That will be aided by the addition of apps, and it will be great to see how content providers leverage them.
The advanced searching with Siri that was demonstrated by Apple looks to make interacting with the Apple TV more productive than it is now with the old model. That's because all of the entertainment providers are now essentially silos that have to be navigated separately. Siri looks to change that and make searching across the board a thing of beauty.
Verdict: A new Apple TV is definitely on my roadmap.