So, what did Apple announce today? There were no big surprises, but in case you hadn't heard, here it is, with links to some of the best coverage I've seen out there:
First, we got some hardware. Apple announced the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, which was pretty much expected. The twist was that, unlike last year, the new iPad Air and new iPad mini don't have the same internals. The new iPad Air received a pretty significant update both externally and internally. Although the outside looks almost exactly the same, it's actually 18% thinner than the first iPad Air—which is just crazy, at 6.1mm. On the inside it has new processors, a much improved camera, and Touch ID. All the new iPad mini got was Touch ID. That's it. MacStories has all the details. Here's the video from Apple:
Apple also announced a new iMac with a Retina display. In fact, they're calling it the new iMac with 5K Retina display. It has 67% more pixels than a 4K display, and all reports so far indicate that it's absolutely beautiful. The Verge has more details. Here's a couple of Apple videos:
The final piece of hardware that Apple unveiled was a long overdue update to the Mac mini, that also included a price drop. The Verge has the coverage again on this one. It's a nice little update to Apple's entry-level Mac. I strongly recommend that anyone considering getting a Mac give the Mac mini a look if they've already got a monitor, keyboard, etc.
Moving on to software, Apple announced that iOS 8.1 and Apple Pay will launch on Monday, October 20th. The best part is they're bringing back the camera roll. Apple really confused photo management on your iPhone when they removed the camera roll in iOS 8. It's a welcome return. Federico has some more details over at MacStories.
Next up, we're back to the Mac with OS X 10.10 Yosemite. The Verge has got you covered with their review of Yosemite, which is available today as a free update for your Mac. Then, MacStories digs in a little deeper with a more detailed look at Handoff, Instant Hotspot, SMS & Phone Relay. These are the features that make up Continuity and are probably the most exciting updates to OS X, besides the more iOS 7-like user interface changes. You can now receive text messages and phone calls on your Mac, or even finish something you started on your iPhone or iPad, like an email or presentation.
Maybe the most exciting thing announced today was something that wasn't even mentioned during the event. Dan Frommer over at Quartz, has the scoop on Apple's new "Apple SIM" card that can be used with multiple different mobile carriers. There are only a few carriers on board in the US and UK so far, but this could be huge. If you could actually switch carriers without having to ever swap out SIM cards, that would be amazing. They're introducing it in the iPad first, but as Frommer points out, this could be really disruptive if they bring it to the iPhone next year:
Imagine booting up your iPhone for the first time and seeing four competing offers for your business from different operators—with short or no contract duration. Or an even deeper integration where Apple bills you as a virtual operator and constantly shops for the cheapest connection—perfect for those who travel overseas frequently.
Overall, it was a pretty predictable event from Apple, especially the iPads, after Apple leaked them the day before the event. There will undoubtedly be many people calling this a very disappointing event, but it won't be when we look back. Nothing Apple announced today was earth shattering or even overly surprising, but we still wound up with several very nice iterative updates to Apple's existing products. Everything got better, and in some cases cheaper, too. Not every event can be the next iWatch unveiling. There was nothing to complain about, but that won't stop many folks from doing it anyway.