I still can't get over the fact that Apple raised the price on the mini. They almost always introduce the new model at the same price as before. So the lineup as they head into the holiday season for the low-end 16GB WiFi models is: $299 for the iPad mini, $399 for the iPad mini with retina display, $399 for the iPad 2 (which they're continuing to sell as their low-end iPad), and $499 for the iPad Air. Price wise, I think the best deal is the new iPad Air, and I can imagine it'll be a big seller.
The rumors were all over the place regarding the iPad mini, with some saying it would have a higher resolution display and others saying that the technology wasn't ready and that the retina iPad mini was being postponed. So the good news, just announced, is that indeed there will be a new iPad mini with retina display, with 2,048x1,36 pixels. The form factor is basically the same, but the colors are new: silver and space gray. The big surprise is that the mini now has the speedy A7 64-bit processor. CPU tasks are up to four times faster and graphics tasks are up to eight times faster than the previous generation mini. It also has the new M7 coprocessor.
As was rumored, Apple has just announced a new 9.7-inch iPad — the fifth generation of this model. And it has a new name: iPad Air. It's the lightest full-sized tablet computer in the world. It has a form factor similar to the iPad mini, with narrower bezels left and right making the device overall a bit narrower. It's also thinner and lighter. The previous iPad was 1.4 pounds, compared to 1 pound for the iPad Air. The previous iPad was 9.4 mm thick, and the iPad Air is 7.5 mm.
Also today Apple introduced new versions of the iWork suite for both iOS and the Mac. The applications have been completely rewritten from the ground up for the Mac, and of course the new versions take advantage of the 64-bit processing of the new iOS devices. And all three include lots of amazing new features.
Apple has announced new versions of the iLife apps: Garage Band, iMovie, and iPhoto. All now have a new look for iOS 7, and all have some great new features, including desktop-class effects for iMovie.
Apple began today's event by covering the extraordinary successes of the recent launches. Over 9 million iPhones were sold the first 3 days. Over 200 million people downloaded iOS 7 in the first 5 days.
I've always bought iPads capable of connecting to the cellular data network. But I really don't like the extra expense. It's great to see that AT&T now has some very appealing options. For those who only need occasional connectivity, such as during a day trip, AT&T has announced a plan that's $5 per day for 250MB of data that can be used over a 24-hour period. In addition, they announced a $25 option that gives you 1GB of data that you can use over a three-month period. This would be a perfect option for me. I'm currently paying Verizon $20/month for 1GB, but I never use all of that. I probably use about half or less.
Not much has been said about iBeacons, but if you have an iOS device from the past two years and iOS 7, you've got iBeacons capability. Eventually you'll be hearing a lot about it. This functionality lets companies place tiny transmitters in specific locations, such as a retail store. They can program these with information and offers. And as you approach that specific location, your iBeacons-enabled app will wake up and put relevant information on your screen, such as a coupon for a discount. Or a museum might place a transmitter by each exhibit, and as you near the exhibit, information will automatically pop up on your screen. According to an interesting article on Macworld, Major League Baseball is one of the first developers to add this feature to their app, the very popular MLB.com At the Ballpark. As you enter the park, a welcome page appears on your iPhone. Then further into the stadium your tickets appear on the screen. And then as you begin to head to your seat, a seat mapper appears with turn-by-turn directions. Other uses will be location-specific coupons, special offers at concession stands, and videos. The feature has been in testing this past summer and will be rolled out next year.
Google released a new version of Google Maps on Tuesday that includes a Tips and Tricks help section available in the side menu. Tap on it, and you're taken to Google's online knowledge base. This is a great resource for step-by-step instructions for many of the app's functions, such as searching for locations, using turn-by-turn navigation, and customizing the map view. The new version also gives you faster access to navigation by giving you an overview of the route right in the screen in which you select a route. This allows you to compare the options before switching to a full-screen view of the route. These additions make a great app even better.