Thoughts on Apple’s Spring Event

I’ve had a few days now to digest the keynote, read opinions, articles and watch multiple videos and exit the reality distortion field and ready to share just a few brief thoughts and key quotes and links that stood out for me.

First of all, it’s fantastic that Apple appears to be streaming live every keynote they host now – in recent years (after the not-streamed-at-all-years) it was an unexpected bonus to be able to enjoy the show as it happens, as not every event was streamed live and instead you had to rely on prominent Apple-news sites to run a typed commentary from one of their writers who was in the audience. Nowadays, it’s looking like the need for these live event-typed-commentary sites are no longer required by the majority – Apple make it easy for folks to watch the live streams via Safari or via the Apple TV. The fact Apple doesn’t make the live stream available for users of Chrome, Internet Explorer or any other browser is deliberate for the eco-system and the business model and not as some naive cynics suggest, ‘clueless’.

Tim Cook is clearly enjoying heading up the keynotes nowadays and his confidence and humour shine through more so than the early post-Jobs keynotes which is understandable. Tim is proving to be an outstanding leader for Apple and this new Apple continues to shine.

Apple TV

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With Apple announcing that the Apple TV has been reduced to $69 from $99, this appears to be a price drop in response to their competitors producing newer and more competitively priced devices. Apple may or may not be working on a product refresh for the Apple and based on Tim’s final comment on stage from the Apple TV segment where he implied there was more coming to the Apple TV soon, maybe a refresh is just around the corner.

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One new feature they did announce for the Apple TV was the addition of HBO as a studio and channel coming soon to the Apple TV. Apple has been gradually adding channels and networks to the Apple TV and HBO is considered a big player due to it holding the rights to such big shows as Game of Thrones and Veep. You will need a subscription to watch HBO which is priced at $14.99 per month and available in the U.S. to start.

With Tim announcing that Apple have sold 25 million of the devices and HBO being added and as he alluded to, one thinks there is much more to come from Apple in this space.

New MacBook

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Apple also announced a brand new version of their MacBook. As Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac scooped back in January, the new laptop is a futuristic new design with a new design in the keys and trackpad made to achieve an even thinner design. Measuring just 13.1mm thick and weighing just 2.03 pounds, this new laptop is clearly a laptop for the future due to the addition of one port – a USB-C which (depending on an adapter) can power VGA, HDMI, USB and of course to charge. This laptop is not designed for folks who need to hook up thunderbolt-displays or run powerful video-editing software due to it’s connection and power restraints – this laptop is a change in design and has Jonny Ive’s mark all over it. I’ll look at this this MacBook in more depth soon.

Available in 3 new colours Space Grey, silver and gold, prices and configurations start from $1299 available soon.

Apple Watch

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In announcing the configurations and prices for the Apple Watch and a pre-order date of April 10th, Apple are ready to release the product to the world. I thought Apple did a fantastic job of showing everybody exactly where the Apple Watch fits and what you can do with it. The fitness aspects of the device were highlighted with Christy Turlington speaking on stage on how she uses it for her fitness and her upcoming London marathon. Kevin Lynch I thought did a marvellous job of walking through a typical usage of the Apple Watch showing how different apps can aid you in day to day life. Again, I will take a more in depth look at the Apple Watch in the next few days once we have more information.

ResearchKit

Jim Dalrymple summed up perfectly Apple’s release of ResearchKit:

ResearchKit is a software framework that allows doctors and researchers to gather data more frequently and accurately than ever before. It’s a way for those people to help find the causes and cures for the diseases that haunt humanity.

As I sat listening to Jeff Williams talk about ResearchKit, I thought to myself, this is why I love Apple—they care. They don’t just talk the talk and put out press releases about massive donations they make to charities, they are actually making a difference and putting the power of the most successful company in the world behind what they say.

Federico Viticci touching on his own personal experience highlighted his thoughts:

As someone who relies on Apple’s Health app every day and had to go through medical research years ago for a brief period of time, I find ResearchKit to be Apple’s most profound and impactful announcement from Monday.

I remember that, as a patient, medical research wasn’t fun. In my case, I was going through treatments and trying experimental drugs three years ago, and I was handed paperwork that I needed to sign and fill with information about chemo effects and how I was feeling. Having to fill forms manually while you’re sick – even if it’s for a greater cause – isn’t the most pleasant experience. I did it, but it felt antiquated and strangely old-fashioned when compared to modern advancements in cancer treatment. Not to mention the bureaucracy and, as Apple’s Jeff Williams outlined, the infrequency and inconsistency of data and the limited amount of people willing to share their information.

Using an iPhone as a sensor-laden device for medical research seems genius to me and exactly what has to be done to expand medical research and make it more connected and accessible. When dealing with patients – and, obviously, my experience is limited to what I went through, so circumstances may be different – or people who are simply interested in helping with medical research, it’s important to make the data collecting process seamless and reliable. An iPhone is always with you (possibly on you) and it’s filled with sensors that can accurately measure parameters such as steps and vocal intensity; it’s got a screen that can assess manual interactions through touch; with Bluetooth and wireless connections, it can connect to certified medical devices and store data securely in a central repository that can be shared with other apps.

When I was watching the presentation, I could feel that ResearchKit was a big deal to the people who worked on it. But, at the same time, I imagined some of the reactions on Twitter and the comments from people who were thinking the announcement was boring. After introducing a framework that is deeply changing personal health tracking (and that will power Apple Watch), I believe that going one step further to embrace medical research through iOS features and apps is an important new direction for Apple’s Health initiative.

Bloomberg after the event had this to report:

Stanford University researchers were stunned when they awoke Tuesday to find that 11,000 people had signed up for a cardiovascular study using Apple Inc.’s ResearchKit, less than 24 hours after the iPhone tool was introduced.

“To get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study normally, it would take a year and 50 medical centers around the country,” said Alan Yeung, medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health. “That’s the power of the phone.”

Overall it was good keynote and great to see that Apple has ironed out the streaming issues of the past. Look forward to an in depth look at some of these new announcements soon.