One of the unexpected announcements from Apple’s Spring Forward keynote this morning was ResearchKit. ResearchKit is a new initiative by Apple which will enable medical researchers to tap into the vast amount of iPhones in use around the world in order to gather new types of data on an unprecedented scale.
During the keynote, Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations, took the stage to talk about the problems of medical research. Last year Apple announced a similar initiative, HealthKit, which was more focused on personal health. According to Williams, while talking to medical experts regarding HealthKit, the conversations often led to research and the problems that the field faced. Some of the biggest challenges to medical research, as Williams stated them, are limited participation (small sample sizes), subjective data, infrequent data, and one-way communication. He went on to say that there are hundreds of millions of iPhone users in the world, and many of them would gladly participate in these studies if it were only simpler and easier to do so.
Alongside today’s new line of MacBooks, Apple also announced updates to its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has received Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad, as well as being updated to the latest fifth-generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Graphics 6100. Its flash storage has been updated to be two times faster, and its battery life has been increased as well (now advertised as 10 hours of battery life for web browsing and 12 hours for iTunes movie playback). Strangely, the 15-inch retina MacBook Pro has been left out of these updates.
The 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs have both been updated to fifth generation Intel Core processors, Intel HD Graphics 6000, and Thunderbolt 2 connectors. The 13-inch MacBook Air received the bump to two times faster flash, but the 11-inch model did not.
The new 13-inch retina MacBook Pro and 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs are all available for purchase today (MacBook Airs can be purchased online here, and MacBook Pros here). You can see Apple’s full press release here.
At this morning’s Spring Forward keynote event, Apple unveiled a brand new line of 12-inch retina MacBooks. Apple is calling this a “reinvention” of the notebook computer, a claim that is evident in every aspect of the new Mac’s composition.
Size and Display
The all-new notebooks are a mere 13.1 mm thin, and weigh in at just 2 pounds. Their 12-inch retina display has a resolution of 2304 x 1440 pixels, and at 0.88 mm thin, it’s the thinnest display ever included on a Mac. It also has a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 178 degree viewing angle. According to Apple, they have increased the size the aperture on every pixel on the display, boosting the new Mac’s energy efficiency by 30% while still maintaining the same level of brightness.
At Apple’s ‘Spring Forward’ keynote held earlier today at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, Apple provided more details about the Apple Watch, which will open for pre-orders on April 10 and launching on April 24. Today’s keynote was mostly a recap of last September’s announcement of the Apple Watch, with a handful of new details sprinkled throughout, read on to get all the key details. Read on to get an overview of the important announcements from today, but if you're looking for more information, look no further than the Apple Watch website or the keynote video.
“Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology and we think our customers are going to love it,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait for people to start wearing Apple Watch to easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before.”
Apple has now posted the video of its 'Spring Forward' keynote held earlier today in San Francisco. The video can be streamed here, and a higher quality version should be made available in a few hours through iTunes (on the Apple Keynotes podcast). To avoid streaming errors, Safari is recommended for the best viewing experience.
For more coverage, check out our 'Spring Forward' keynote news hub and follow @macstoriesnet on Twitter.
The good news is that the rumors about HBO Now were true:
Apple and HBO today announced HBO NOW is premiering next month [April 2015], making an HBO subscription available directly to Apple customers for the first time ever. iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV users can purchase HBO NOW directly in-app as a standalone service to watch every episode of every season of the best of HBO’s original programming, as well as the biggest and latest Hollywood hit movies, groundbreaking documentaries, sports and exclusive comedy specials—for just $14.99 a month.
This is good news, especially for those of you anticipating the upcoming premier of Game of Thrones season five. Hopefully some of this money will go towards solving HBO’s previous problems keeping up with video demand for Game of Thrones. However, there was some very small print at the bottom of the screen (and which isn’t mentioned in the press release): “HBO NOW is only accessible in the US and certain US territories. Some restrictions may apply.”
Assuming that Apple handles this the same way it handles other subscriptions, one big convenience of HBO Now will be the ability to cancel your HBO subscription without having to call your cable/satellite TV provider and sit through a “Retention Specialist” trying to convince you to keep it. So if you only want to keep it while Game of Thrones is on, that will be easier.
In related news, Apple had news about the AppleTV! But if that made you excited because you hoped they were going to update the AppleTV, or at least the user-interface, well, sorry. It’s not getting better, but it is going to be cheaper. It will now sell for $70 instead of $100. Which is a good price, but the AppleTV really looks outdated and clunky compared to the Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
Apple press release about HBO Now
Those with an Apple TV can now access the Apple Events channel, ahead of today's 'Spring Forward' keynote. The channel will allow users to stream the keynote live, from 10am San Francisco time, as Apple previously announced. The channel also allows users to stream past Apple events, just in case you have some time to kill whilst you wait for today's event to start.
For those without an Apple TV, you will also be able to stream today's keynote from Apple's website if you use Safari on Mac or iOS. You can also follow our March 9 Event hub for updates, or subscribe through RSS to our dedicated March 9 event feed.
A new book about Steve Jobs, authored by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli will arive later this month on March 24th. Titled 'Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader', the book promises to answer the question of how the exiled Steve Jobs managed to return to Apple and 'become the most effective visionary business leader of our time'.
Drawing on incredible and sometimes exclusive access, Schlender and Tetzeli tell a different story of a real human being who wrestled with his failings and learned to maximize his strengths over time. Their rich, compelling narrative is filled with stories never told before from the people who knew Jobs best, and who decided to open up to the authors, including his family, former inner circle executives, and top people at Apple, Pixar and Disney, most notably Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Robert Iger and many others. In addition, Brent knew Jobs personally for 25 years and draws upon his many interviews with him, on and off the record, in writing the book. He and Rick humanize the man and explain, rather than simply describe, his behavior. Along the way, the book provides rich context about the technology revolution we all have lived through, and the ways in which Jobs changed our world.
There’s a mountain of data inside your car waiting to be unleashed, and all you have to do is plug in a quick little connector and download a mobile application.
Automatic is a smart driving assistant that plugs into your car's data port and lets you connect your smartphone (either iPhone or Android) with your car. By talking to your car’s onboard computer and using your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car's capabilities, Automatic will allow you to easily diagnose your engine light, never forget where you parked your car, and save hundreds of dollars on gas.
Automatic learns your driving habits and gives you suggestions through subtle audio cues to drive smarter and stop wasting gas. Thanks to a map view available on your phone, Automatic can display a trip timeline after every driving session, showing you how you're doing with a Drive Score; the app can even track local gas prices and tell you how much you're spending.
In case of engine problems, Automatic can decipher what the "check engine" light means and show you a description of the issue with a possible solution. And thanks to a feature called Crash Alert, Automatic can detect many types of serious crashes and automatically alert local authorities as well as your loved ones when you can't.
Automatic is currently available in the US for iPhone and Android devices, with a 45-day return policy and free shipping in 2 business days.
MacStories readers can go to automatic.com/macstories to get $20 off and buy Automatic at just $79.99. For more information, check out Automatic's website.
Our thanks to Automatic for sponsoring MacStories this week.