Apple introduced a number of new products yesterday, including (1) a low-end iPad, (2) a red version of the iPhone, (3) new Apple Watch bands and (4) an app called Clips that can be used to create fun videos. Here are the details, and what I think the announcements mean for lawyers.
The new iPad
Before yesterday, Apple sold three lines of iPads: the inexpensive iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro, and the iPad mini. Yesterday, Apple replaced the iPad Air 2 with a new device called simply "iPad," but announced nothing new in the iPad Pro or iPad mini lines.
The new iPad is cheaper and faster than the iPad Air 2. While the iPad Air 2 started at $399, the new iPad starts at $329 for a 32GB model. And while the iPad Air 2 had an A8X chip, the new iPad has an A9 chip — the chip used in the iPhone 6s released in September of 2015 as well as the iPhone SE released a year ago. Ars Technica has some benchmark tests comparing the A8X to the A9, and the difference varies depending upon the test being run; in one test, the A9 is about 38% faster than the A8X. Suffice it to say that the new iPad should see a noticeable speed increase versus the iPad Air 2, but it still won't be as fast as an iPad Pro which has an A9X chip.
On the other hand, the new iPad is slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2 it replaces. In fact, the new iPad is about the same size and weight as the original iPad Air introduced in 2013. Thus, the new iPad is 7.5 mm (versus 6.1 mm for the iPad Air 2) and weighs 1.03 pounds (versus 0.96 pounds for the iPad Air 2). So you can think of the new 2017 version of the iPad as the same as the 2013 version of the iPad Air, but with a faster processor.
How does the new iPad compare to the iPad Pro 12.9" (released in late 2015) and the iPad Pro 9.7" (released in early 2016)? I think that the big difference for attorneys is that the new iPad does not support the Apple Pencil. I love my Apple Pencil, and I use it almost every day to annotate documents, take notes, etc. Any attorney getting a new iPad which lacks support for the Apple Pencil is really missing out. The new iPad also doesn't support the Smart Connector, which can be used to connect to an external keyboard, so if you want to use a keyboard with the new iPad, you won't be able to take advantage of the new Smart Connector keyboards. Fortunately, there are plenty of good Bluetooth keyboards on the market so I don't think you'll miss the Smart Connector that much.
There are other differences too. The new iPad is thicker and heavier than the iPad Pro of the same screen size (the 9.7" model, which is similar in thickness and weight to the iPad Air 2). The speakers and screen are much better on the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro also has a better camera, better LTE (if you get the model with cellular), and there are some other differences.
I know many attorneys who are still using an iPad 2 or an iPad 3. For them, this new iPad would be a major upgrade, even if it is not as nice as the iPad Pro. And the price is certainly attractive; if you get the 128GB model (the minimum I recommend for an attorney), you are paying $699 for the iPad Pro 9.7" versus $429 for the new iPad (9.7"). When you add the $99 cost of an Apple Pencil, that's $800 versus $430. You get quite a bit for the $370 price difference: an Apple Pencil, a thinner and lighter iPad, a faster iPad, an iPad with better sound and a better screen, etc. And considering that you are likely to use an iPad that you buy now for several years, you'll appreciate the advantages of an iPad Pro for a long time. I recommend that attorneys opt for an iPad Pro over the new iPad. But if price is a big issue for you, and if you are fairly certain that you wouldn't want to use an Apple Pencil, then the new iPad is a reasonable choice.
Speaking of the iPad Pro, there have been rumors for a while now that Apple is preparing a new iPad Pro which fits a larger screen into a smaller size by reducing the bezel. The idea is that the screen would be similar to the 12.9" iPad Pro, but the device size would be similar to the 9.7" iPad Pro. John Gruber of Daring Fireball predicts that we won't see this new version of the iPad Pro until 2018, or maybe 2017. Anything is possible, and maybe Apple will introduce a new iPad Pro this June at its WWDC conference, but my guess after yesterday's announcement is that we won't see any update to the iPad Pro before the Fall of 2017.
Apple also made some changes to the iPhone line yesterday, but they are far less significant. First, Apple announced a new (Product)RED version of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The difference is that the back and sides are red (the front is white) and a portion of the sales are donated to fund HIV/AIDS prevention programs. If you don't use a case for your iPhone and you like the idea and color of a (Product)RED version, this might be the iPhone for you. But I see it as having a more limited appeal.
If you prefer the smaller size of the iPhone SE introduced last year, Apple made one change yesterday. Instead of the iPhone SE selling in a 16GB or 64GB version, the choices are now 32GB or 128GB.
If you want an Apple case for your iPhone, either the silicone version or the leather version, Apple also released some new case colors yesterday.
Apple Watch band changes
Apple didn't change the hardware of the Apple Watch yesterday, but it did change how it is sold. In the past, you could select from a small number of watch bands, such as a leather band or a stainless steel band, when you purchased an Apple Watch. But now, you can only get a Sport Band or a Milanese Loop band when you buy an Apple Watch. My guess is that those are the two most popular bands. Indeed, those are the bands that I currently wear every day; I wear the Milanese Loop at work during the day, and I switch the Sport Band when I get home and on the weekends because it is more durable and better for working out.
You can still buy the specialty lines of the Apple Watch and they come with other bands. The Apple Watch Nike+ comes with a Nike Sport Band (which features holes, which is supposed to be lighter and breathes more when you sweat, but I haven't used it myself to try it out). The Apple Watch Hermės comes with a variety of premium leather bands. But if you get just the regular Apple Watch, you now need to choose between a Sport Band or a Milanese Loop.
When it comes to buying additional bands, Apple announced some improvements and changes yesterday. First, you can now buy the Nike Sport Bands even if you didn't buy an Apple Watch Nike+. They cost $49 (the same price as Apple's Sport Band). I'm very happy with the Apple Sport Band, especially because it comes in an XL size which works better on my larger wrist. But if the M or L size works for you, you might prefer the Nike Sport Band over the Apple Sport Band for working out.
If you want to buy a Sport Band, Apple is now selling it in 13 different colors, including the new Pebble (off-white), Azure (pale blue), and Camellia (reddish pink) colors. There are also 13 different versions of the Nylon Woven Band, including six new color combinations.
Apple also revised the Classic Buckle leather band. Instead of a curved rectangular buckle, like the one I reviewed in 2015, the buckle on the new model is square. I'm not sure if this is just a cosmetic change or if the larger buckle actually works better. There are also some new colors. And if you want the fancier and more expensive Hermès leather bands, there are some additional options.
Whenever Apple introduces new bands, it also retires some of the older models, including some really nice ones. For example, my wife usually uses a Sport band with her 38mm Apple Watch, but when she wants a more dressy look, she uses a Classic Buckle in a marine blue color. That marine blue color is no longer available, and that is a real shame because I think it was one of Apple's best watch band colors ever, especially for a woman with blue eyes. But I know that in the world of fashion, new seasons mean that old designs and colors go away and new designs and colors come in. If you are looking for a new watch band to get some additional variety with your Apple Watch, you now have lots of new choices. And at some point in the future, many of these new choices will go away.
Apple hasn't give us much information on this yet, but next month, Apple will release a new free app called Clips. This app makes it quick and easy to create short and fun videos on an iPhone or iPad with text, effects, graphics, filters, etc. If you already use Snapchat to create short and fun videos, this looks somewhat similar. But Clips does have a cool feature where you can add text to a video just by speaking the text.
I seriously doubt that lawyers will find any professional use for the Clips app, but it is likely to be the hot new video app that your kids will be using next month, and it looks like it could be quite fun to use. I look forward to checking it out in April.