Tap, speak and draw on Apple's latest

NEW 3D TOUCH: The new 6s and 6s Plus versions of the iPhone are able to sense finger pressure, and this feature allows users to look inside messages and applications.
Tap, speak and draw on Apple's latest

BIGGEST YET: The iPad Pro, with a 12.9-inch display, also includes a detachable keyboard and stylus, sold separately. PHOTO: REUTERS


    Sep 11, 2015

    Tap, speak and draw on Apple's latest


    APPLE unveiled fresh iPhones that sense the pressure of a finger tap and a new TV set-top box that responds to voice commands, while looking to dive deep into businesses with iPads.

    The new 6s and 6s Plus versions of the iPhone, Apple's biggest money makers, are the same size as the previous versions but come with a better 12MP camera, faster chips, a new colour - a pink option dubbed rose gold - and the force-sensitive 3D Touch.

    The iPhone 6s will retail in Singapore starting from $1,048 (16GB) and the iPhone 6s Plus will start at $1,218 (16GB), reported The Straits Times.

    Pre-orders start tomorrow and the new iPhones will hit Singapore's shores on Sept 25.

    Speaking before thousands of analysts, journalists and frequently cheering Apple employees, chief executive Tim Cook also brought on stage an executive from one-time archrival Microsoft to illustrate the business-friendly credentials of a big new iPad, the 12.9-inch Pro, Reuters reported.

    The iPad Pro will be available in Singapore in November but local prices have not been disclosed yet. In the United States, the iPad Pro starts at US$799 (S$1,130) for the 32GB Wi-Fi model.

    "Apple did the typical good job at the event," Gartner analyst Brian Blau told Agence France-Presse.

    "Overall, I don't think it is going to push the needle for Apple in a good or a bad direction. These are great devices and cool features."

    Apple shares ended the official trading day down slightly less than 2 per cent at US$110.15, and danced around that price in after-market trades. This replicated the recent history of such rollouts, Reuters noted.

    "People love to hate Apple announcements because the expectations are so high and they can never clear that bar," said Kevin Landis, portfolio manager of the US$111 million Firsthand Technology Opportunities fund, which has Apple as its second-largest position.

    Twitter users seemed most impressed by the revamped Apple TV. The product, which the company long called a "hobby", gets its own app store and will work with Siri, Apple's digital assistant.

    Fewer celebrated the new iPad - which some saw as too big and similar to Microsoft's Surface tablet - and new iPhones, which are outwardly identical to the enlarged smartphones which made their debut about a year ago.




    One of the key new features of the updated iPhones is called 3D Touch, which responds to pressure exerted on the screen to allow users to look inside messages and applications.

    "Apple has performed the ultimate conjuring trick: Change everything about the iPhone, but make it look almost identical to the old model," IHS Technology said in a posted analysis.

    By sensing finger pressure, the phones enable users to dip in and out of content without losing their place.

    "It will further refine our use of touch as a main user interface," Mr Blau said.

    The 6s has the 4.7-inch display of its predecessor and the 6s Plus has the same 5.5-inch screen.

    But the devices have more powerful processors that allow for improved graphics, harder glass and a new aluminium body. Prices will be kept at the same levels as the earlier versions.

    Tech site 9to5mac noted that the new rose gold colour option is available only for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, alongside the colours space grey, silver and gold. The older iPhone 6, 6 Plus and 5s, which will be discounted, only have the space grey and silver options; they will no longer be available in gold.

    As many consumers buy smartphones under a two-year upgrade cycle, Apple will still likely scoop up a lot of sales, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. "The key point of reference is not how the new phone compares with the iPhone 6, it's how it compares with the iPhone 5s," he said. The iPhone 5s was released in 2013.




    The new iPad Pro has the power and capabilities to replace a laptop computer, Apple said. It has aspects reminiscent of Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, such as covers that double as keyboards.

    Mr Cook called the device "the biggest news in iPad since the iPad". The new tablet, with a 12.9-inch display, also includes a detachable keyboard and stylus, sold separately.

    According to Apple senior vice-president Phil Schiller, the device features "desktop-class performance" and operates faster than 80 per cent of portable PCs that shipped in the last 12 months.

    The iPad Pro stylus, called Apple Pencil, was designed for high-precision illustration and 3D design applications. Apple Pencil will be sold at US$99 and the keyboard at US$169 in the US.

    Dave Meier, who works on several portfolios at Motley Fool Funds, said that the addition of a stylus and keyboard to the iPad Pro could lead to a "refresh cycle" that would lift incremental sales.

    He was "impressed with the gumption" to bring Microsoft executives to demonstrate Office products on the new iPad, he said. "This says that the Surface might be dead and Microsoft understands that they are very good at productivity but not at hardware," he said.




    The upgraded Apple TV includes voice search, touchscreen remote control and an app store in a challenge to Google, Amazon and Roku.

    Apple TV was overhauled as people increasingly stream films and television shows on-demand online and turn to mobile applications for entertainment.

    "We believe the future of television is apps," Mr Cook said.

    Apple released a software kit for outside developers, and showed off early versions of Apple TV applications already being crafted by show streaming services Netflix and Hulu, as well as HBO.

    Apple TV has the potential to take the kinds of "casual game" apps popular on mobile devices and put them on television screens, according to analysts.

    The Siri virtual assistant software newly built into Apple TV will allow for natural language searches for shows - for example, by asking for something funny or a certain actor by name.

    The new Apple TV is "coming soon" to Singapore, the company said. But in the US, it will launch late next month at a starting price of US$149.

    Apple TV has lagged behind rivals with similar devices, at least in the US. Research firm Parks Associates showed that Roku leads the US market with a 37 per cent market share, to 19 per cent for Google Chromecast and 17 per cent for Apple TV. Amazon's Fire TV devices have 14 per cent.

    "For Apple TV to succeed, it will have to give people what they already want on a TV: TV shows," said Forrester analyst James McQuivey.

    Absent from the new TV interface was any agreement for new content despite Apple's efforts to negotiate deals with a wider array of TV networks to provide live or on-demand content.