iPad, Mac and OS X Yosemite Event Roundup: All the news and announcements from today’s event

BY Joe Rossignol

Published 17 Oct 2014

Apple's October 16 iPad event

As the clock in the top-right menu bar on my Mac approaches midnight, I am sitting here in an exhaustive state after the second Apple event in as many months ushered in a whirlwind of announcements pertaining to new iPads, new Macs, OS X Yosemite and more. It was an eventful day to say the least, no pun intended.

As a tech enthusiast, it was well worth it. But if you did not manage to follow today’s news and announcements as closely as I did, read ahead for the lowdown on everything you need to know about Apple’s event this afternoon: iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iMac with Retina 5K Display, iOS 8.1, Apple Pay and everything else.

The event began with Apple chief executive Tim Cook on stage to discuss how the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have experienced record-breaking first month sales, leading to the company’s biggest iPhone launch ever. Cook highlighted iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus availability on China’s three biggest carriers as a contributing factor.

iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3

iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3

Apple has been faced with declining iPad sales over the past few quarters on a year-over-year basis, so the company needed to respond in a big way. Enter the iPad Air 2, an upgrade to the original iPad Air that features an ultra-thin design, faster Apple A8X chip, improved Retina display, faster wireless, improved iSight camera and Touch ID.

With three layers of the screen fused into one, Apple was able to make the iPad Air 2 thinner and award it the title of the world’s thinnest tablet at just 6.9mm. Despite being thinner, the iPad Air 2 is up to 40% faster and delivers up to 2.5x the graphics performance of its predecessor thanks to the more powerful A8X chip and M8 motion coprocessor.

Like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the iPad Air 2 has faster wireless that can deliver Wi-Fi speeds up to two times faster than the previous generation. The extra juice is perfect for taking advantage of the improved iSight camera on the tablet, which includes an improved sensor and advanced optics for capturing the best photos possible.

The addition of a Touch ID fingerprint scanner overlaid on the Home button will enable iPad Air 2 users to keep their devices more secure, complete iTunes and App Store purchases without entering a password and make mobile payments through apps using Apple Pay. Last, the iPad Air 2 comes in gold now alongside silver and space gray.

Meanwhile, the iPad mini 3 was given just seconds of stage time because of its less-than-iterative update over the previous-generation iPad mini. The only change to the hardware specifications and design of the iPad mini was the addition of Touch ID. The tablet is also available in a new gold color and 128GB storage option.

iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for the base 16GB model, while the iPad mini 3 starts at $399 for the equivalent base model. Apple retained the iPad mini 2 and original iPad mini in its tablet lineup for $299 and $249 respectively, while the original iPad Air goes for $399.

For more detailed coverage of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, be sure to read the following articles:

iMac with Retina 5K Display

New iMacs

A lot of users have been waiting an awfully long time for Apple to bring the Retina display to the desktop. While I was personally hoping that there would be a high-resolution Thunderbolt Display, Apple took the wraps off its even more exciting and impressive iMac with Retina 5K display. Yep: it blew right past the idea of releasing a 4K monitor.

If you have read our article on first impressions and hands-on videos about the new and improved iMac, you would know that early reviews of the latest all-in-one desktop computer have been quite favorable. The crispness and clarity of the iMac with Retina display blows the competition out of the water with 14.7 million pixels on a 27-inch screen.

The improved display is not the only upgrade to the new iMac, as the computer also features up to a 4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, up to 3.5 teraflops of graphic computing power and up to 20 Gbps of Thunderbolt 2 bandwidth. The refresh also brings along the latest AMD graphics and the advanced Fusion Drive to the table.

The all-new iMac with Retina 5K display starts at $2,499, while the standard 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac that lack a Retina display retail for starting prices of $1,099 and $1,799 respectively. Each model can be further configured based on processor, memory, storage, graphics, peripherals and more.

Read our new iMac articles from this afternoon:

OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1

OS X Yosemite icon

Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi spent several minutes of today’s event recapping some of the major new features in OS X Yosemite, the latest version of Apple’s operating system for Mac. The executive touched upon several areas of the platform that we already knew about, carrying out a humorous demo with Stephen Colbert.

Looking beyond the major new features of OS X Yosemite, including Safari, Mail, Messages, iTunes, Spotlight, iWork and iCloud Drive, Handoff, Instant Hotspot and Notification Center, Federighi finally got down to the nitty and gritty details about when the software update will actually be released to the public. As it turned out, it would be today.

OS X Yosemite is available as a free software update for Mac users through the Software Update section of the Mac App Store. While there were initially some users experiencing issues with downloading the latest operating system, the process appears to be running smoother now that Apple’s servers are under less demand for the software.

Federighi also briefly touched upon the iOS 8.1 software update that will be released for compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices on Monday. He humorously noted that when you have such a large number of users updating to the latest version of iOS, there will be some bugs and kinks that need to be ironed out in a minor point update like such.

Overall, the event was informative about the two main operating systems that will power Apple devices over the course of the next year: OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. Read the following articles for a more in-depth look at our coverage of each software platform this afternoon:

Apple Pay

Apple Pay

Apple chief executive Tim Cook confirmed that the Apple Pay mobile payments service that his company unveiled last month at the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus event will officially launch on Monday. The platform will initially be restricted to the United States, where over 500 new banks have agreed to support the service by this year or next year.

While the just-announced iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are both equipped with Touch ID, the fingerprint scanner will only enable iPad users to use Apple Pay for making in-app purchases. Both the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 lack an NFC chip for allowing contact-less payments between the tablet and a point-of-sale system — which would be impractical.

Apple Pay is an NFC-based mobile payments system for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and is also compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s when paired with an Apple Watch. When the service rolls out in the United States next week, there will be support for over 220,000 participating stores through retail partners.

Apple Pay is powered by the NFC chip on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. When you want to make a payment, simply hold your iPhone near the point-of-sale system and verify you are the card holder by scanning your thumb with Touch ID. The system stores your credit card info in an encrypted and secure fashion using Touch ID and the A8 chip.

The mobile payments platform is deeply integrated with Passbook, enabling one-touch checkout with no card number entry, typing an address or signing a receipt required. Forget about carrying credit and debit cards in your wallet and simply use your iPhone for payments at Macy’s, McDonald’s, Whole Food Markets, Petco, Staples, Target and more.

Read more about the Apple Pay announcement:

Other Announcements

What excited you the most about today’s special event?