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Apple unveils new iPhones, iPad and Apple TV with touch remote

🕐 5 min read

SAN FRANCISCO _ Apple unveiled a wide-ranging lineup of new products, including updated iPhones, a revamped TV set-top box for playing games and watching videos, and a bigger iPad designed for business customers.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook showcased the new products Wednesday at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The September gathering is Apple’s most anticipated annual event, and highlights the company’s gadgets and services ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Along with the Apple Watch and Apple Music service rolled out earlier this year, the devices advance Apple’s ambition of weaving its products into more areas of people’s lives. From fitness and health monitoring on the wrist, to communications and productivity via phones, computers and tablets, to entertainment in the living room, Apple has been steadily expanding its offerings as Cook chases new markets. The lineup could also help revive a share price that’s dropped 17 percent from a February high.

The new iPhone models, called iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, will be available Sept. 25, with pre-orders starting Sept. 12. The two new phones start at $199 and $299 with a two-year carrier contract. Apple also introduced a new leasing program for iPhone, starting at $32 a month, where users will pay for the device over time and have the chance to upgrade every year.

“While they may look familiar, we have changed everything about these new iPhones,” said Cook, who succeeded Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO in 2011. “They are the most advanced smartphones in the world.”

The new versions, which look like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that debuted last year, add an improved 12-megapixel camera, speedier processor and a new feature called 3D Touch that lets users make commands and reach shortcuts and menus by pressing down harder or softer on the screen. The handsets come in four colors — silver, gray, gold and rose gold.

The IPhone remains the most important product to Apple’s business, accounting for more than 60 percent of its revenue last quarter. The company’s stock has come under pressure amid questions about its long-term revenue prospects, particularly smartphone sales in China — a market it’s counting on for growth. Shares have fallen about 15 percent since July 21, when Apple reported lower-than-expected financial results.

The new phones offer speedier Wi-Fi and LTE wireless phone service, Apple said. The 3D Touch feature serves as a shortcut for commonly used applications. For example, pressing down on the camera icon on the iPhone gives a quick entry point for taking a selfie. Pressing on an e-mail will give a preview of a new message. It also helps users navigate between apps.

The new Apple TV set-top box, the first overhaul of the product since 2012, will cost $149 to $199 and will be available in late October. In addition to offering a gateway to viewing online videos from services such as Netflix Inc., Hulu LLC and Time Warner Inc.’s HBO, Apple is stepping up the device’s capabilities with its own App Store. Developers will now be able to make games and other content for the box, just as they have with iPhone and iPad.

“Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative,” Cook said. “We believe the future of television is apps.”

The TV device has a new touch-enabled remote control and integrates Siri voice-activated commands, letting people search for a movie or show by saying a title, genre or an actor’s name. The new search function includes the ability to look for programs across streaming apps including Netflix, HBO, Showtime and Apple’s iTunes, with more services to come later.

Apple also showed off the set-top box’s gaming capability, including existing App Store favorites such as “Crossy Road.” The new remote control for Apple TV doubles as a game motion- sensing controller, similar to Nintendo Co.’s Wii. Other apps include shopping services like Gilt Groupe Inc., and a tool for watching live sports.

The redesigned Apple TV joins a crowded market. Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Roku Inc., as well as game-console makers Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., all are attempting to reach customers in their living rooms who are increasingly streaming programming on demand through the Internet. Other services, such as Amazon’s Fire TV, already have voice-activated search and an app store with games and content.

On Wednesday, Cupertino, California-based Apple also unveiled a bigger member of its iPad family, further blurring the line between tablet and laptop. The device’s display is 12.9 inches. The new IPad Pro will cost $799 to $1,079 depending on memory included, and goes on sale in November.

“This is desktop-class performance,” said Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller at the event. The device is 6.9 millimeters thin with 10-hour battery life and a four-speaker audio system, Schiller said.

IPad unit sales fell 18 percent in the three months that ended in June, the sixth straight quarterly decline. The new product is geared toward business customers looking for an alternative to laptop computers — a market that Cook has pinpointed as an area of focus as iPad demand has slowed.

The iPad Pro has many characteristics of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, including a case that doubles as a keyboard. Apple also introduced a stylus for the device, which it calls Apple Pencil. The keyboard will cost $169, while Pencil will retail for $99.

Apple showcased several iPad Pro applications for businesses. Microsoft demonstrated how PowerPoint and other Office software features can be used on the tablet, and Adobe Systems Inc. showcased design software. Both companies’ programs take advantage of how the Pro’s larger screen allows for multiple applications to be open at once.

Apple also highlighted new software for Apple Watch, including several new apps made by outside developers. Facebook Inc. is releasing its Messenger app for the smartwatch, and GoPro Inc. is making an app available that will work as a viewfinder for seeing what a person is filming with one of the company’s cameras. Another app, AirStrip, helps doctors monitor a patient’s vital signs. The updated version of the operating system for the watch will be available Sept. 16.

The company also unveiled new watch bands, including one made by the fashion company Hermes, and new watch colors — rose gold and aluminum.

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