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Apple 'springs forward' with more than just the Watch

Michael deAgonia | March 11, 2015
With the new MacBook, ResearchKit, Apple Pay and even HBO Now, Apple showed it's still innovating.

Apple Watch is available to preorder on April 10 -- two weeks before it actually ships -- and will be available in stores for hands-on use that same day. I'll be getting one -- though I'm still vacillating on which model, Sport or the mid-level Watch.

The Mac is back? It never left!
Even though the Watch was the star attraction, Apple spent a lot of time on the newly revised 12-in. MacBook. The death of the Mac in this mobile age has been exaggerated and Apple's popular laptop line clearly continues to evolve. Philip Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, unveiled several updates, including new processors for the MacBook Air and the 13-in. MacBook Pro. The latest 13-in. MacBook Pro also gets the updated "Force Touch" trackpad.

The real news, however, is the brand new MacBook.

It's a stunner, from the three-million pixel 12-in. Retina display, to the 2-pound enclosure that's just 13.1mm wide (when closed) to the new, larger trackpad with haptic feedback and support for Force-touch. The MacBook is also the first Apple device to adopt USB-C, which combines power, data, and video output in a single, reversible port. (Most people will need an adapter for older peripherals.)

Apple's new MacBook features a thinner keyboard with a single-assembly butterfly mechanism, custom battery shapes for maximum efficiency (up to nine hours on a charge), and the aforementioned Force-touch and haptic feedback-enabled Trackpad. For the first time, it will come in Space Gray-, Silver- and Gold-colored enclosures, and they'll ship on April 24. Prices start at $1299 for the model with 256GB of storage and $1,599 for twice that amount of storage and a slightly faster chip. Both models come with 8GB of RAM, and at least according to Apple's website, neither is upgradeable to more.

Like the Watch, I plan to review the MacBook when it is officially released to get a better feel for the design and how well the new trackpad works.

Regarding Apple's reach
Beyond the hardware announcements, it was astonishing to hear Cook announce that Apple now has 453 retail locations in 16 countries -- and six of the 21 stores in China opened just within the last two months. He noted that this allowed Apple to reach 120 million customers in its retail stores in just the last quarter. With this potential audience, along with the fact that Apple users are likely to spend their money, it's no wonder the company can attract exclusive deals like the one announced yesterday by HBO.

That HBO deal marks the first time subscribers can get the channel's programming without having a cable subscription. For $14.99 a month, Apple device owners -- and, for the next three months, only Apple device owners -- can access HBO Now and more than 2,000 titles, including Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. Early subscribers get the first month free.

 

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