Everything Announced (& Unannounced) at Today's Apple Event

After the September announcement, we were all pretty sure we'd be getting a new iPad at Apple's October event. We did get a new iPad Pro, as well as a new MacBook Air and Mac Mini. But do we love what we got, and do we have any regrets about what Apple left off the table? Read on to find out our hot-take on what was announced, what got left out, and our opinion about Tim's choice in pullovers.

Related: Tired of Waiting for the AirPower? Try This Wireless Charging Stand for iPhone, Apple Watch & Airpods

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Before we dive into what was announced, let's cover what Apple didn't release this year. After we were promised AirPower at the beginning of 2018, we waited through each consecutive announcement hoping for an update. Now it looks like 2018 will close without the release of AirPower. We also heard rumors that there'd be news about a new iPad Mini or Mac Book, but neither upgrade was announced at today's "Big Apple" event.

The good news is that we're getting a new MacBook Air, a new Mac Mini, and a new iPad Pro (along with a second-generation Pencil). All the upgrades announced today are definite improvements, and you can bet we have opinions on each announced (and unannounced) item delivered today from the Howard Gilman Opera House. Let's dive right in with the first upgrade out of the gate, presented by our favorite walking sweater vest, Tim cook.

MacBook Air: Apple Raises the Bar (& the Price Point)

Off the bat, I should tell you that the next-generation MacBook Air starts at $1,199 for 128 GB of storage and 8 GB of onboard memory. Personally, I'm disappointed by the price point. Granted, 128 GB for $1,199 is comparable with the iPhone XS, and the screen is obviously much bigger than the iPhone. Given the cost of the iPhones, the MacBook Air might seem like a steal, but let's compare today's price to the cheapest version of the original MacBook Air. 

At release, the original MacBook Air started at $899 for the same amount of storage and onboard memory as the new generation. That's not to say that this new MacBook Air isn't an upgrade; there are some serious hardware improvements. Like the iPhone XR, the MacBook Air has a Liquid Retina display. The Air's screen begins at an edge-to-edge 13.3-inch display. The colors are also improved; more pixels means a 48 percent increase in color. Apple added Touch ID to the MacBook Air, making the machine more secure then its predecessor. In terms of physical changes, Apple replaced the USB ports with slimmer USB-C ports, added an extra microphone, and (bravely) hung onto the headphone jack. 

The new design is slimmer (17 percent slimmer to be exact) and weighs in at 2.5 pounds. The design will certainly appeal to students, but the price is beyond the reach of that target demographic. 

The New Mac Mini: A Big Heart With A Tiny Footprint

When I first saw a Mac Mini back in the day I mistook the tiny computer for an oversized Apple TV. In my experience, the Mac Mini has been generally fine but not quite as good as the other Mac alternatives. Now, Apple seems set on challenging that assumption with its new generation.

Before we get into the details about the new machine, let's all acknoweldge that the introduction video for this item was breathtakingly cheesy. We began in space, surrounded by stars, then moved through what seemed to be a scene from the film Tron and, finally, the Mac Mini "landed" like a spaceship. Apple's videos are usually very hip and polished, but this one gave us all a good chuckle at the office.

Cheesy graphics aside, the new Mac Mini demands to be taken seriously. Back in 2012, the first Mini debuted with a quad-core processor, Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports, and the new-at-the-time OS X Mountain Lion. The Mini has come a long way since it was first introduced at $599. The newest Mini costs more, but unlike the MacBook Air, the Mini's price point seems appropriate for boost in performance.

First of all, the size; the Mini is still mini, and the overall design looks very much the same as the original. In terms of physical architecture, like the MacBook Air, the Mini's USB 3 ports have been replaced with USB-C ports. You've still got your Thunderbolt output as well as DVI and VGA supported adapters (sold separately), and once again Apple has bravely retained the headphone jack. Inside, things have changed dramatically.

The quad-core can be configured up to a 6-core, and the onboard memory now starts at 8 GB (as opposed to the 4GB of the original). Storage begins at 128 GB and can go anywhere up to 2 TB of solid-state storage. Of course, this means that your mileage will vary with the price point. The cheaper Mini sells for $799 and the more expensive version leaps up to $1,099. The cost is high, but the graphics, memory, and processing power have all improved even with the budget version of the Mini.

Hold Your Applause for the Apple Store

Apple talked about its Apple Store, and that means we have to talk about it as well. Personally, I tend to check out when Apple talks about its physical stores at events. There's not a store near where I live, so even though some of the classes sound interesting, visiting a store regularly enough to benefit from the offered classes has never been a practical option for me. 

The audience, however, was very excited, and so was Tim. Apple announced that its sessions have increased by over 60 new classes, meaning that if you can get to an Apple Store then you can sign up for a wide range of courses in photography, design, illustration, and more. With all the new hardware being released, if there's an Apple Store near you then you might consider checking out Apple's lineup to see if there's a class you want to take.

Of course, in the interest of self-promotion, I have to add that our Insider membership offers a wide range of classes and you don't even have to leave your house! But it still might be worth checking out an Apple session. I might even take a fieldtrip someday to see for myself why today's audience was so hyped.

Meet the New iPad Pro

Apple definitely saves the best for last. Of course, we were disappointed that there's no new iPad Mini, but oh boy, does the Pro look amazing. 

I admit, I'm pretty biased towards the iPad Pro. As an illustrator and graphic designer, I love that I can bring my electronic sketchbook with me wherever I go. Apple knows that as well, and with this new release they've continued tailoring the iPad Pro for the graphics, speed, and processing power needed to support both designers and casual iPad Pro aficionados.

First, let's talk about what Apple didn't announce at the event. While visiting the technical spec's for the new Pro, we discovered that the headphone jack is gone and so is the Lightning port. This is huge, because it means that unless you have a Bluetooth headset you'll need to start shopping for new headphones. While there will be a Lightning adapter available it will be sold as a separate accessory. Apple also made a big deal about the new generation Pencil, and while it looks very cool, it's important to note the the Pencil will not be cross-compatible. This means that if you have a new generation Pencil, it won't work with your old iPad, and vice-versa.

Now with that out of the way, should you by the new iPad? Even with the above caveats, I'm completely sold on the iPad Pro. The new Pro is smaller than the previous generation, about the length and width of a piece of notebook paper, and without the beveling we're getting a beautiful 11-inch Liquid Retina display. We've lost the Home Button, but don't despair. In place of the Home Button, not only do we have Face ID, but the Pro's Face ID works in both landscape and portrait modes. That's right, while the iPhone is still stuck in the Face ID stone age, the Pro can unlock regardless of the screen's orientation.

The A12X bionic chip, unveiled with the new iPhones in September, is inside the new Pro as well. This gives us a boost in speed, performance, graphics, and general user experience. The Pro will support a combination of Arrow (a 3d sculpting software used in augmented reality design) and Photo Shop to allow designers to create art that users can move through. In my opinion, the roll-out for this particular feature looks clunky, but it's promising for the overall capabilities of the Pro. After all, if the machine can render augmented reality during the design phase, then it can certainly handle a quick game of Fortnight. 

The new Pro starts at 64GB for $799, and that's a great starting price for these powerful new machines. For an in-depth look at the new Pro and the next-generation Pencil, check out Mike Riley's take on all the Pro's pros and cons

And One More Thing

Tim just couldn't resist adding in one-more-thing. Once it became clear the one-more-thing wasn't the release of AirPower, we all groaned in disappointment. Apparently, we're getting extra Emojis with the new iOS 12 update as well as improvements in group Face Time. Personally, I think they should have left off the one-more-thing. Fortunately, Tim followed up on this rather lackluster follow up with a beautiful performance by Lana Del Rey, which is definitely worth watching.

 

So that's everything! We got almost everything we wanted, and what we did get looks promising. Personally, I'll be getting the iPad Pro. Let us know what you plan to buy in the comments below.

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Tamlin Day is a feature web writer at iPhone Life. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Maharishi University of Management and his work has been published in the Rio Review and Breathe Free Press.