9 Takeaways From Apple's Latest Product Launch

Up Apple's Sleeve

Many Apple fanatics expected "iPad" to be the buzzword of Tuesday's Apple event held at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, Calif. With the release of the iPad Air (pictured) and iPad Mini, Apple did not disappoint. However, the company had tricks up its sleeve less in the line of new hardware and more in the line of business strategy. Here are a few key points to take away from Tuesday's Apple event.

'Revolutionizing Pricing'

After demonstrating Mavericks OS X from the San Francisco stage, Craig Federighi, vice president of software engineering at Apple, spoke Tuesday's golden word: "Free." Federighi did not mean a "free update" or "free trial." For the first time, Apple is offering its newest operating system for Mac, 100 percent free of charge, a product that historically would cost nearly $200. To boot, Mac owners with any version of a Mac operating system released in 2006 or later will be able to upgrade directly to Mavericks in a single step. "Today we're revolutionizing pricing," Federighi said. A phrase that rang true again when Apple revealed its new iLife and iWork suites will be free with any new iOS or Mac purchase. In addition to the freebies, Apple is also offering its new MacBook Pro line at a lower starting price than previous generations. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 and the 15-inch starts at $1,999.


iPad Legacy

Though Apple pioneered the tablet only three and a half years ago, many competitors have entered the tablet arena since. Apple CEO Tim Cook spent no time beating around the bush about Apple's stronghold in the tablet market. Showing a pie chart in which iPads constituted 81 percent of U.S. tablet usage, Cook said, "iPad is used more than any of the rest. Not just a little more, a lot more." This year, tablets outsold laptops for the first time and are expected to overtake all PCs by 2015, according to research firm IDC. Though some partners would argue the 81 percent is almost entirely consumer focused, the bottom line is, according to the sales statistics, iPad is still tablet king.

iPad Air

Unveiling its fifth-generation iPad, branded the "iPad Air", Apple has taken the best specs in the newly released iPhone 5S and applied it to its newest tablet. Like the 5S, the iPad Air is loaded with Apple's newest 64-bit A7 chip and has nearly 2 times the computing and graphics power as the previous generation of iPads. Additionally, the tablet has two antennas, twice the wireless performance and dual-microphones for improved audio functions. With a 9.7-inch retina display, the tablet weighs in at only 1 pound, making it the lightest full-sized tablet on the market. The iPad Air will be available online and in retail stores beginning Nov. 1.

Price: beginning at $499

iPad Mini With Retina

Apple's newest iPad Mini, also unveiled at Tuesday's event, now boasts a 7.9-inch retina display. Keeping with the fast processor theme, Apple's A7, 64-bit processor is also loaded in the mini, giving it all the power of Apple's other new mobile products. Aside from its petite size, weighing in at less than three-quarters of a pound, the iPad Mini with Retina is a clone of the iPad Air. Apple has yet to release the date these miniature tablets will go on sale, but it has promised they will hit shelves later in November.

Price: Beginning at $399

Mavericks OS X

Though the biggest news around Apple's newest operating system for Mac is its "free-ness," Apple's Craig Federighi gave a demonstration on new and useful features. For starters, notifications including emails and messages appear in a small window as they are delivered. Users are able to reply to the message directly through the notification window without having to ever maneuver away from their current task. Third-party application notifications can appear in the same way, but are controlled by the user in the notification center. Tags for easy categorization are now available for pictures and documents. The built-in Calendar app will auto-fill with location and weather information for each scheduled event, and the Map app is able to send directions with a single click from a Mac or MacBook to an iPad or iPhone. All content users store on an iPhone, iPad, MacBook or Mac will now automatically appear on all other personal Apple devices, letting a user begin a project on a MacBook and continue it on the morning train from his or her iPad.

New MacBook Pros

The retina display has officially evolved to the MacBook Pro line. With 13-inch and 15-inch options, the MacBook Pro line received amped up hardware and a lower starting price point, beginning at $1,299 and $1,999 respectively. The 13-inch version weighs less than 3.5 pounds and is loaded with a fourth-generation Intel Haswell dual-core processor, while the 15-inch has the same quad-core processor. The 13-inch Pro offers 4- and 8-GB options for onboard memory, while the 15-inch device comes with 8- and 16-GB options. Additionally, both versions are capable of up to 512-GB storage. Both MacBook Pros operate on Mavericks OS and, as with any new iOS or Mavericks product, will come preloaded with the new iLife and iWork suites.

iLife Updates

Following the "freebie" theme, Apple's newest version of iLife will come loaded on all new iOS and Mac products. The iLife suite consists of Garage Band, iPhoto and iMovie and revolves around a Mac user's creative life. As users edit or create items in any of the applications on any device, the projects are automatically updated across shared Apple devices. Photobooks are now an option in the mobile version of iPhoto, while both iPhoto and iMovie received updated effects and editing tools.

iWork Updates

Apple's productivity suite iWork consists of Pages, Keynote and Numbers applications, which are now capable of immediate collaboration across devices. Interactive charts have been added to the Numbers application, while several new special effects can be found in the Keynote application. The entire suite received a re-vamped user interface and refreshed icons. For the first time, Apple is offering the entire iWork suite for free on new iOS and Mac purchases.

The 'Innovation' Question

Despite a massive lead in tablet usage, two new MacBook Pro releases, two new iPad releases, an operating system update and overhauls on iLife and iWork applications, Apple is still battling the "Innovation" question. Does adding existing technology like a retina display onto a different product like a MacBook Pro really qualify as innovation, or is it a mere upgrade that had to happen. The A7 chip was a big deal when it was loaded in the iPhone 5S, but now it is the Apple standard, and future processors are surely not expected to get slower. It was less than three years ago that Apple introduced the tablet to the world, but when will the next "big thing" hit the scene? Further, will it be Apple that brings it?