Thursday 18 January 2018

Apple unveils its bid to take over TV

Apple TV
Apple TV
A man uses the new Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro. Photo: Getty
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

There was no Taylor Swift or U2 on hand, but Apple packed 7,000 people into one of San Francisco's biggest venues to unveil two new iPhones, a giant new iPad, and a bid to take over our television sets.

The company's new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models come in the same shape and screen sizes as existing iPhone 6 models, but feature better cameras, more power, and a new way of controlling the phone depending on how heavy you press the screen.

The new phones are expected to be available in Ireland in October and will cost from €700 for the iPhone 6S and from €800 for the iPhones 6S Plus. The company is discontinuing the iPhone 5C and the 5S model now becomes the base model.

Meanwhile, Apple's new 13-inch iPad Pro tablet, which is twice the size of existing iPad Air devices, is being pitched at business users and graphic artists, as well as those who want high-end movie-streaming devices. An accompanying stylus for the iPad Pro, called Apple Pencil, has also been launched. The iPad Pro's screen is the same size as a large MacBook Air or a standard MacBook Pro.

Apple is fighting declining iPad and tablet sales as large-screen phones - including the iPhone - steal much of their functionality.

And Apple has announced a new Apple TV streaming box with a new range of apps for gaming and smarthome use.

The device, which will continue to stream services such as Netflix to televisions, also has a new remote control that is voice controlled and is being pitched as a video game accessory. A number of video games have also been announced for the machine.

Apple has also announced a new operating system for the Apple TV called tvOS.

Commands such as "show me the episode of 'Modern Family' with Edward Norton in it" will correctly retrieve the correct episode for viewing. It also has an auto-rewind feature.

The gadget is also seen as a staging post in Apple's bid to take on TV giants such as Netflix, Comcast and Sky.

Apple's long-term ambition is to try and enter the TV streaming market.

However, film and television studios are very wary of loosening control on their content. Many say that they do not want TV to become commoditised in the same way music was 10 years ago.

That means that Apple has struggled to strike deals with premium studios and TV companies like HBO. Other functions for the Apple TV, such as home shopping and special features for sports broadcasts, are also included in the new set-top device.

The Apple TV will cost between €150 and €200 and is expected to be available in Ireland in October.

Apple has moved to avoid any accusations of 'bendgate' this year by toughening up the metal used for its new iPhones.

And in a bid to challenge higher-end cameras, the new iPhone cameras come with 12-megapixel sensors and 5-megapixel 'selfie' sensors.

They also come with new 'ultra' high resolution 4K video shooting capability and a feature called 'live photos' where the camera takes three seconds of video footage and audio recording when a photo is taken.

The iPhones' '3D Touch' system allows users to vary the functions they use according to how much pressure they put on a given 'tap' or 'press'. It is currently used on the Apple Watch.

Irish Independent

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