October 22, 2013:Liveblog: Apple unveils iPad Air and new iPad mini

Liveblog: Apple unveils iPad Air and new iPad mini

apple-ipad-5-eventApple is holding its second new-hardware event of the Autumn tonight, following its recent iPhone 5c and 5s launch.

Tonight, new iPads are on the agenda, although we’re expecting some other devices (new MacBooks?), software news (an update on the new Mac OS X Mavericks’ release) and maybe, JUST maybe, some information on the next countries to get iTunes Radio.

Music Ally is at the London simulcast of the launch, ready to liveblog the salient details, quotes and devices of the evening. Stay with us, and keep refreshing the page to get the latest updates, which will be in chronological order.

Also pray for us that the Wi-Fi holds out. All times are British Summer Time (BST). On with the show.

17.44: Why read a liveblog when you can watch the iPad launch event in a live video webcast? Good question. Think of this like a court report to be read after the event. Except with less criminals, more weak jokes, and a reminder that Music Ally has been predicting a Yellow Submarine-branded Beatles iDevice since 2006, so perhaps tonight may be the night. Or not.

17.50: Some Apple-related fun to read while waiting for the event to start in 10 minutes: Apple and HMV remain at loggerheads over the latter’s iOS app, which was removed from the App Store yesterday for letting people buy downloads in-app. Apple says the app violated clause 11.13 of its App Store guidelines – “Apps using IAP to purchase physical goods or goods and services used outside of the application will be rejected”. HMV is wondering why the app was approved, which is a fair question.

17.54: BONA-FIDE MUSIC-RELATED INFORMATION: Haim are playing on the soundtrack while we wait for the event to begin. Good old Haim. Surely they’ll be candidates for a closing slot at an Apple keynote sometime in 2014.

18.00: And we’re off, with CEO Tim Cook. Sweepstake on the first use of the word ‘incredible’? We’re betting on 18.06.

18.03: A video of early customers buzzing around Apple Stores on 20 September, when the iPhone 5c and 5s went on sale. Lots of happy, smiling, whooping faces (not in a coughing way). Cook reminded the audience that Apple shifted 9m of the new phones over its launch weekend.

18.07: On to the new iOS 7 software, with more than 200m devices running it five days after it launched in September. “As of today, nearly two thirds of the devices are running iOS 7,” he says. “This is tremendous, this blows away the other guys.” Android, in other words. And the exact figure was 64% of iOS devices now running iOS 7.

18.08: Oh, iTunes Radio. “Artists love iTunes Radio,” says Cook, citing approving quotes from Justin Timberlake, who debuted his new album on iTunes Radio. “We now have had over 20m users listening to iTunes Radio, and this number continues to grow,” he says. “They’ve listened to over a billion songs, and this is just in the US in the last month. It’s absolutely fantastic.”

18.09: Apple now has more than 1m apps available on its App Store, which has generated more than 60bn downloads, and developers have earned more than $13bn from those apps.

18.10: Onto Macs. “Our competition is different: they’re confused. They chased after netbooks, now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they will do next? Well, I can’t answer that question, but what I can tell you is we have a very clear direction and a very ambitious goal,” says Cook. “We still believe very deeply in this category, and we’re not slowing down in our innovation.

18.12: A demo of the latest version of Mac OS X – Mavericks – which was shown off properly at the WWDC conference earlier this year. Apple’s SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi runs through the key new features: improvements to the way Macs handle battery life, memory, graphics and so on.

18.22: When is Mavericks going to be available? “Today, we’re going to revolutionise pricing,” said Federighi. “Today, we’re announcing that Mavericks is free.” So that’ll be on lots of Macs within a few weeks then. Or days: Mavericks will be made available today.

18.26: Now new MacBook Pro laptops: thinner, lighter, faster etc. We’re trying not to think too much about this for fear of our current device feeling slow and old-hat. “Up to 90% faster than the previous generation… and it gets better battery life too.” D’oh!

18.27: While we’re here, the Entertainment Retailers Association has just put out a statement criticising Apple’s ban of the HMV app. “The dispute between HMV and iTunes highlights, we believe, serious issues of competition in the digital entertainment world,” reckons ERA, noting iTunes’ 70% market share in the music downloads market. More info here.

18.28: Those new MacBook Pros will start shipping today *locks wallet in safe, throws safe off cliff*

18.34: And then on to the Mac Pro, the cylinder-shaped desktop Mac that was memorably described as “Darth Vader’s bin” by CNET. It was briefly shown off at WWDC, but there was no news on pricing and launch date. It’s enormously fast, enormously powerful, and enormously expensive? It starts at $2,999, and goes on sale in December.

18.41: Now Eddy Cue to talk about Apple’s creativity and productivity apps, starting with iLife: iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, which have all been redesigned for iOS 7, and also for the Mac. iPhoto has been redesigned with a spiffing new look, and iMovie likewise, and they play nice with Apple’s iCloud service.

18.44: GarageBand is “the most popular music creation app in the world” says Cue. Is it? But the changes: doubling of the tracks on iOS, and a new design on the Mac. And yes, iCloud, for automatic synching of projects between iOS devices and Macs. And mention of the phrase “killer drums” and “that’s more rock’n’roll”.

18.48: It’ll use in-app purchases to buy new sample packs – including virtual drummers, who’ll play the same drum pattern in different styles, with a new feature called ‘Drummer’. And every new iOS device and Mac will have all the iLife apps for free – this is a change on iOS, where the three apps have traditionally cost £2.99.

18.50: We’re onto iWork: Pages, Numbers and Keynote, Apple’s equivalent of Microsoft’s Office. Again, slinky new iOS 7-friendly redesigns, iCloud in everything. Cue just nearly said “beautiful” when he meant to say “gorgeous”, is about the most newsworthy thing from our perspective.

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18.56: They’re having some fun at Cue’s expense in the iWork demos (above) but the big announcement is that all the iWork apps are going free – like iLife, they’ll be available to download from today.

18.57: Back to CEO Tim Cook, and hopefully the iPads section of the event. “We are turning the industry on its ear, but this is not why we’re doing it. We’re doing it because we want our customers to have our latest software and access to the latest new features,” he says, of the decision to make Mavericks free, as well as the Apple apps.

19.00: Now iPad. Cook slaps down netbooks again: “Who remembers netbooks?” And then a big stat: Apple has sold more than 170m iPads since the launch of the first model three years ago. “I can’t think of another product that’s come so far so fast. Now everybody seems to be making a tablet,” he says, citing stats showing iPad has an 81% usage share in the tablet market: “over four times more than all of those other tablets put together, and this is what is important to us.”

19.01: He’s riffing on this: “It’s not about quantity. It’s is about quality.” But then Phil Schiller takes the stage to talk about the new iPads. Yes, new iPads! This is the point to skip to if you’re coming in late.

19.07: The new iPad is thinner, and called… the iPad Air! “It deserves a new air,” says Schiller. The new model weighs one pound – “the lightest full-sized tablet in the world” he says. But it’s twice as powerful as the last model, uses the same M7 motion processor as the iPhone 5s – presumably to ensure it gets all the data as you sit on the sofa reading the internets – with faster Wi-Fi.

19.11: It’ll come in silver’n’white or space grey’n’black, replacing the top-end iPad, starting at $499 for a Wi-Fi only model with 16GB. But Apple will continue selling the iPad 2 starting at $299. And the new iPad Air will start shipping on 1 November.

19.15: Onto the new iPad mini, which has a sharper Retina display, like its bigger sister. But it has Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip, just like the iPad Air and iPhone 5s. It’s going to be quite ninja in its capabilities (a technical term), but with 10-hour battery life. It’ll start at $399 and will go on sale “later in November”, but the original iPad mini will remain on sale for $299 – cheaper than it is now. “The lowest price yet for an iPad,” as Schiller points out.

19.19: Back to Tim Cook, to wrap up. Unless there’s a “one more thing” moment? Actually, there hasn’t been one of those since Steve Jobs was in his keynote pomp. No, he’s showing an advert for the iPad Air. “Other companies would be incredibly proud to just have one of these products,” he says, striking a bullish note to finish off – there have been quite a few slapdowns for the competition tonight. And that’s a wrap!

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Stuart Dredge
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