MacBook Air and Pro are getting a quiet upgrade
Don't fancy the new MacBook? Some of the Pro and Air models have just been given a light spruce-up too.
The Air models and 13-inch MacBook Pro have been bumped up to Broadwell-generation processors. Until now they've been using Haswell CPUs: a bit slower, a bit less efficient. Along with this, you now get Thunderbolt 2.0, which is a whole mess faster, with up to 20 Gbps bandwidth.
The Pros and the 13-inch Airs also get much faster SSDs, completing the a trinity of pretty standard, pretty unimaginative, but also pretty important annual updates.
Lucky 13-inch MacBook Pros get one extra new feature. They have been given the new ForceTouch trackpad seen in the new MacBook design.
Apple just redesigned its keyboard and trackpad
Call us big old nerds if you like (well it is our job), but two of the most interesting things at the Apple Watch event were not to do with the Watch or how slim the new MacBook is, but its keyboard and trackpad.
Apple's engineering bods have redesigned both to try and get rid of two niggling problems with laptops: trackpad dead zones and wobbly keyboard keys. Now, you may not have thought of these as problems, but your current MacBook Air might just feel rubbish as a result after you've tried the new MacBook.
Instead of having a 'scissor' mechanism under each key, the new MacBook keyboard has a butterfly one. This makes the key more stable, and means the key moves straight down even when you apply pressure at its edge.
Don't care? Well how about the ForceTouch trackpad? Rather than using a hinged pad, this new one has four pressure sensitive pads at each end of it with the action relayed using 'Taptic' feedback motors.
Now, the current MacBooks using this sort of software-based feedback already, but this means you can use the entire TouchPad as a button, including the top inch that at present does zilch.
Pressure sensitivity also allows for different button effects depending on how hard you press. It's a trackpad gesture without, well, the gesture.
Still not impressed? How about the new keyboard backlight? It now uses separate LEDs for each key to get you more focused light. It also is part of the MacBook's super slim design style. If that doesn't do the trick, we give up.
Apple is getting into medical research
As well as the bonus Watch details and the new MacBook, Apple just announced ResearchKit, a platform that can help patients log data about their conditions for research and monitoring. It's open source too, which is about as un-Apple as moves get. It's brazen altruism at it's finest, not that this'll do anything to harm Apple's public image.
It has been working with a whole bunch of medical research institutions, including Oxford University, on creating apps that patients can use to log data. We heard about heart health monitoring, diabetes, asthma and breast cancer, but it was the Parkinson's app that showed how it'll work directly.
It'll let patients perform the sort of status checks that you might normally go to a GP for. Your iPhone's accelerometer/gyroscope will check your gait while you walk 20 steps, and monitor for tremors in your voice as you say 'Ahhhhh' into the mic. "We're incredibly confident that ResearchKit is going to transform medical research," Apple said during the talk.
Oh, and we're promised "Apple will not see your data". Although we await with dread the day ResearchKit gets hacked.
Apple has sold an awful lot of iPhones, again
As ever with an Apple event we got to hear a few facts and figures on top of the hardware and software bits. Apple has now sold 700,000,000 iPhones. That's roughly one for the each person on the Earth circa 1750, or 29 for every person living in Australia (well, according to the census records anyway).
Tim Cook boasted that this was a growth of 49 per cent on the year before.
It also makes the 25 million lifetime sales of the Apple TV box look pretty puny, but perhaps that'll change now that it costs just $69, £59, AU$109.
Everyone loves CarPlay, sort of
For a while it seemed like the fuss around CarPlay had been and gone in an instant when it arrived a year ago, but apparently it's going great guns according to Tim Cook.
He boasted that "every major car manufacturer" has signed up to the platform, and said we'd see 40 new CarPlay models by the end of the year.
While we imagine those 'major' car brands may be heavily US-skewed, we hope to see Apple's connected platform start to drip down to base models. Not just for those who could splash out for a Apple Watch Edition on a whim. We'll see, eh?