Technology & Science

Apple event: iPhone 6s, iPad Pro, Apple TV upgrade announced

Apple Inc has announced the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, a bigger iPad and an upgraded Apple TV set-top box with voice controls and a new operating system called tvOS.

Event is being livestreamed online

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      Apple Inc announced its latest phones, the iPhone 6s the iPhone 6s Plus.

      It also unveiled a bigger iPad and an upgraded Apple TV set-top box with voice controls and a new operating system called tvOS at a media event today in San Francisco.

      Apple saved its new iPhone announcement until fairly late in the event. 

      It says the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus will feature better cameras and a feature called 3D Touch.

      Pressing down hard on the new iPhones will launch additional capabilities. For example, you can get quick access to tasks such as taking a selfie or getting directions home. From a message, 3D Touch will give you a preview of a Web link without launching the browser.

      Apple introduced this concept with some Mac laptops in March. It's called Force Touch on other devices. Apple Watch also has Force Touch.

      Camera upgrades

      The upgraded main camera on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will have a resolution of 12 megapixels. It's the first increase since 2011, when the iPhone 4s got 8 megapixels, compared with 5 megapixels before.

      But many high-end Android phones have long had more. Samsung phones, for instance, have 16 megapixels, while an upcoming Sony phone will have 23 megapixels.

      Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple Inc, speaks about the 4K video capability for the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

      Apple said at an event in San Francisco Wednesday that it waited until it could ensure delivering more megapixels without image degradation.

      Meanwhile, the front camera for selfies is getting a boost to 5 megapixels, from 1.2 megapixels, matching Samsung's latest phones. Plus, the new iPhones will use the main display as a flash, something the front camera now lacks.

      And video recording will be improved to the Ultra HD, or 4k, resolution found on Samsung and Sony phones.

      The phones will be made of a stronger form of aluminum than their predecessors.

      Last fall, Apple got some complaints that the iPhone 6 Plus was more prone to bending than previous models. Apple defended its manufacturing standards and said bending was rare with normal use of an iPhone.

      The new iPhones will go on sale on Sept. 25, with advance orders starting this Saturday.

      That's a week later than Apple's typical playbook. Usually, new iPhones go on sale on the second Friday after their announcements.

      In Canada, the iPhone 6s will start at $899 and the iPhone 6s Plus $1,029 with a two-year service contract.

      Transit directions coming

       A free update for existing iPhones and iPads will come next Wednesday. It brings transit directions, a news-viewing app and other refinements.

      CEO Tim Cook kicked off Wednesday's event by talking up the Apple Watch, saying customer satisfaction for the new product was 97 per cent. Apple is working with French luxury goods maker Hermes on a new watch collection, and Facebook Messenger is coming to the device, he added.

      Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations, unveils new Apple Watch styles. (Eric Risberg/AP)

      Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations, said there now 10,000 apps designed for the watch, including ones from Facebook and GoPro — the latter using the watch's screen as a viewfinder for the video camera. Apple says the new capabilities will also allow additional health-related apps.

      An upgraded watch operating system, Watch OS 2 will be available Sept. 16.

      Super-sized iPad

      Cook then rolled out the "iPad Pro" with a 12.9 inch screen and said it had performance similar to a desktop computer. Apple showed off a "smart" keyboard and a stylus called "Pencil".

      The iPad Pro has a 12.9 inch screen. Apple says it has a performance similar to a desktop computer. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

      Apple said it had partnered with Cisco Systems Inc and IBM to help power the iPad pro, which it said is up to 1.8 times faster and has a 10-hour battery life. Many people on Twitter seemed unimpressed by the new iPad and lamented its large size, however.

      Apple says its new iPad will be available in November starting $799 US for the 32 GB version. It did not release Canadian pricing. 

      The Apple Pencil stylus will cost $99US, while the physical keyboard accessory will cost $169US.

      Apple also showed the latest version of Apple TV.

      The company has long insisted on controlling apps available on the device's home screen. In doing so, it can ensure that menus and keyboards look and feel the same, whether you're on Netflix or PBS.

      An Apple Pencil, a new stylus for the iPad Pro, is displayed on the screen. (Stephen Lam/Getty)

      But there have been many services unavailable on the home screen. To watch on the TV, viewers have had to launch those apps on an iPhone or iPad first and use a feature called AirPlay to get video on the TV through the home Wi-Fi network. Complicated.

      Having app choices directly on the home screen make things simpler. To make sure everything runs smoothly, Apple created a new version of its mobile operating system called "tvOS."

      Games, music for Apple TV

      The app store also allows for non-video services, such as games and music.

      A new remote has a Siri microphone button for voice commands such as "show me some comedies." The new device can search through shows and movies available on a range of apps including NetflixHulu, HBO and Showtime.

      John Carter of Harmonix discusses his company's game Beat Sports for Apple TV during the Apple media event. The new version of Apple TV will allow gaming and music apps. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

      Apple's new Apple TV set-top box will start at $149 US and will be available in late October.

      The company will continue selling the existing model for $69 US, a price that had dropped from $99 US in March.

      The main Roku 3 and Amazon Fire TV devices cost about $100, though cheaper versions with fewer features are available — as low as $39 for the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Google also sells a Chromecast device for $35.

      With files from Reuters

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