Support for 4K video and HDR was inevitable. This is the direction the industry is heading and Apple needed it in their set-top-box in order to keep up. And I couldn’t be happier that Apple is offering 4K titles on iTunes at the same prices that they’ve been selling HD content at for years.
The Apple TV 4K seems like a great piece of hardware, but I’m not thrilled about the lineup’s pricing. Not necessarily the 4K model’s $179 starting price, that’s fine by me, but the current Apple TV remaining in the lineup at $149 is just silly. In an era where reasonably sized smart TVs can be purchased for two or three hundred dollars, it’s hard to justify the cost of an Apple TV anymore. Pricing the old Apple TV at $99 would have lowered the barrier to entry and helped the company compete with inexpensive streaming boxes from Roku, Amazon, and the like.
Regarding the TV app’s live sports and news feature, this is exactly how I believe it should be dealt with. The app surfaces live events that you’re interested in and hides the rest alongside your other streaming library content. It’s perfect. I just hope a wide variety of streaming services add support for it — having the NBA and MLB at launch is a big deal, but I’d like to see more niche content networks like the WWE get on board.
The landmark feature is built-in cellular connectivity. Perfect for making calls, streaming music, receiving notifications, and interacting with Siri when you’re away from your iPhone. The Series 3 is available with and without cellular connectivity, starting at $399 and $329 respectively. Preorders start on September 15 with models shipping a week later.
In addition to the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple also announced a medical study, which will look at heart rates and arrhythmias. My wife, in particular, is really excited about this news. She’s been having occasional heart palpitations for the past several months and her doctors have been struggling to find their cause. This study, combined with the Heart Rate app’s notifications for unexpected elevated heart rates, might help her discover the cause of these palpitations.
Before I publish my thoughts on any of the products announced today, I wanted to address Tim Cook’s dedication of the theater, in memory of Steve Jobs. The audio played at the opening of the event — the first ever to be held in Steve Jobs Theater — was absolutely perfect. No matter your opinions about the products Apple makes, you can’t deny the influence Steve Jobs had on millions of people around the world. He was a great man that will be missed for decades to come.
If you don’t have an opportunity to watch the full video of today’s event, at least try and set ten minutes aside to watch the beginning. It’s worth it.
Eric Schwarz decided to give prepaid cellular service a try. He moved everyone on his AT&T family plan to Cricket Wireless. They’re saving a bit of money on their monthly bill and have found the service to be just as reliable as their previous setup.
Jeff Benjamin, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:
We’re only a few days from Apple’s big fall iPhone event, but the big news tonight is the leaked iOS 11 GM firmware that we received this evening. The iOS 11 GM firmware, which should be pushed next week to developers, includes several brand new wallpapers, three exclusive to the upcoming iPhone, including seven sure-to-be-popular retro-styled versions and an all-black wallpaper fit for OLED displays.
Speaking of bundled services, on Wednesday, T-Mobile announced that their family plans will now include a free Netflix subscription. This seems like a great deal. But I’m starting to grow leery of cellular companies slowly rebuilding the old “triple-play” bundles that cable companies have offered for the past fifteen years. There’s more reason to be optimistic this time around, though. There’s only a handful of cellular networks available, but at least they aren’t protected monopolies with literally zero competitors like the cable companies are in most markets.
From Spotify’s press release:
As the new school year gets underway, Spotify and Hulu are partnering to offer U.S. college students the perfect streaming entertainment bundle for their busy lives. Starting today, eligible students can sign up for Spotify Premium for Students, now with Hulu to not only stream music but also their favorite television shows and movies through a single subscription plan, at just $4.99 a month. This is the first step the companies are taking to bundle their services together, with offerings targeted at the broader market to follow.
I’m not a college student, and therefore, I’m unable to partake in this promotion. But I am excited about that last line quoted above — “with offerings targeted at the broader market to follow.” I don’t particularly like the idea of subscription music services. I don’t listen to music on a daily basis, preferring podcasts instead, and I only listen to a handful of new albums each year. But if I had the option to bundle Spotify alongside a service I already pay for at a reduced price, I’d consider it.
Many will look back at the first time they flipped open the AirPod case. They’ll remember looking down at their iPhone and realizing the AirPods had already connected. That experience will be looked at fondly, in the halls of other first-time experiences which shoved us into the 21st Century.
That time before AirPods? Surely we’ll never want to go back.
There’s a lot of gorgeous photographs in this piece.