The folks at Apple love a good story. So using the day after daylight savings to hold an event about Apple Watch makes sense. The watch is the first new product category for Apple in a number of years and people were keen to get more details on the device after its initial announcement last September.
CEO Tim Cook didn’t disappoint. He announced that customers can start pre-ordering the Apple Watch on April 10 and that it will begin to ship on April 24. The entry level Apple Watch Sport will start at $349 for a 38mm watch, with a 42mm version going for $399. The mid-level Apple Watch will go from $549 up to $1,049, depending on the type of watch band; and the limited Apple Watch Edition will be made of 18K gold and go for a whopping $17,000.
We also learned more about what exactly you’ll be able to do with the Apple Watch after Cook outlined the broad strokes of its capabilities in September. It will answer phone calls, set activity goals, open your garage door, and send Snapchat-like messages. But if you were undecided about whether or not you really need an Apple Watch in your life, today’s announcement probably did little to push you in one direction or the other. This could end up as a Google Glass-like fail, or it could become a must-have gadget that we can’t leave the house without. We won’t really know until early adopters get their hands on it and either do or do not spread the gospel of its utility.
And with all the attention focused on the Apple Watch, it was easy to overlook some of the other announcements that were made at today’s event, but that doesn’t mean they were any less awesome.
Here are 3 things that got us even more excited than the Apple Watch.
HBO NOW IS COMING
Richard Plepler, the CEO of HBO, was the first person to take the stage after Cook. Fanboys will remember this primarily because Plepler revealed a new Game of Thrones trailer. (Look for Daenerys Targaryen to be even more badass when the show returns April 12.) But of more lasting significance is the fact that Plepler announced that HBO Now would be coming exclusively to Apple devices starting in April.
HBO Now is the company’s over-the-top offering that allows users to subscribe to the network’s programming without a cable provider. The service will cost $14.99 per month and be available on Apple TV (which, incidentally, will now cost $69 instead of $99) and all other Apple devices. This is an interesting play for HBO as it shifts its business model into one that is more Netflix-like. Most young people (and, yes, it pains me to use the phrase “young people”) consume HBO programming by borrowing their parents’ login info. If this new offering convinces people to pay for the service on their own then it could be a game-changer.
RESEARCHKIT COULD CHANGE SCIENCE FOREVER
This was one of those announcements that did little to move the needle in terms of our collective lust for material things, but which could have far-reaching applications. Essentially what ResearchKit is is a tool that allows medical researchers to collect data from patients in a way that is much easier, more comprehensive, and at a larger scale than ever before.
Starting today there are apps that will help researchers work with people dealing with Parkinson’s disease, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer. The benefits of this are easy to understand. In theory, scientists will be able to tap into their study subjects’ data all the time and the subjects will be able to access more information about their own health. More data, and more objective data, can help researchers find better solutions.
But the Big Brother nature of this is a little creepy. Apple says it won’t see your data and that the user can decide whether to participate and how that data is shared. Still, that’s asking for a high-level of technical sophistication on the part of the patients, and could also lead to some armchair-diagnosing. As much as we’re concerned about our financial data, our health data may be even more valuable and the potential for abuse is even scarier.
THE NEW MACBOOK IS THE BEST MACBOOK
Enough doom and gloom. Let’s get back to what Apple marketing honcho Phil Schiller inelegantly referred to as “#macbooklust.” The company’s newest laptop could become the computer to have. The list of features is impressive. It is 13.1 mm at its thickest point (compared with 17.1 mm for the current MacBook Air), weighs just two pounds, has a 12-inch Retina display, and a full-size keyboard. On the design side, it comes in cool colors like gold and space gray and has a new trackpad that can sense the force of your taps.
With a price that starts at $1,299, the new MacBook could kill off the MacBook Air since it has more computing power in a thinner and lighter design. While it’s easy to understand Apple’s desire to have a laptop that costs less than a grand, it’s hard to see customers not being convinced to shell out the extra couple hundred bucks since it gets them so much more.