As widely expected, Apple has officially unveiled a new 27-inch iMac with Retina display, new Mac mini configurations and a thinner iPad Air at the company’s on-campus auditorium yesterday. The company has also announced the immediate availability of OS X Yosemite – the new version of the Mac operating system first announced at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in June earlier this year.
While Retina displays on Apple products are nothing new, it is the company’s first ultra high-resolution display on the iMac desktop computer, and sports a 5120 x 2880 resolution. Apple claims the new ‘iMac with Retina 5K display” comes with 14.7 million pixels – four times more than the standard 27-inch iMac.
The perceived resolution won’t actually be 5120 x 2880 – if it was, content would be impossibly small on the display. What Apple are actually doing is packing more pixels into the same space, which increases the screen’s pixel density, sharpness and clarity. The perceived resolution will most likely be the same as the standard 27-inch iMac, which is still sold alongside the new iMac with Retina 5K display.
Apple’s new iMac with Retina 5K display is available starting now, and will set you back £1,999. Unfortunately, Apple did not announce a 21.5-inch Retina display iMac, but it is likely it’ll announced next year, along with the long-rumoured 12-inch MacBook Air.
iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3
Available in several new colours, Apple’s new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 now comes with the Touch ID sensor found on the iPhone, which can be used to unlock your iPad and make purchases via the App Store and iTunes Store using your fingerprint.
According to Apple, the new iPad Air 2 is 18% thinner than the previous iPad Air and has a less reflective display. Apple claims this less-reflective display is possible by combining the separate layers that make up the display screen into one component, which eliminates the air gaps that were present between the different layers that contributes to the reflectiveness of the display. Along with the reduced reflectance, the iPad Air 2 screen has a “custom-designed anti-reflective coating” that reportedly reduces glare by just over 50%.
Both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 are now available in Silver, Gold and Space Grey – the same colours found on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s. There is also no longer a 32 GB option for both iPad models – this has been replaced by a 64 GB model reportedly at the same price point, with a new 128 GB model available at the high-end.
Apple will continue to sell the previous-generation iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and original iPad mini at lower price points.
The new Mac mini now starts at a lower price point of £399, which is the first time the Mac mini has been lowered to this price point for many years, which will be welcome news for users that have been hoping for a cheaper Mac mini in this update. At the low-end, the Mac mini comes with a 1.4 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 and Intel HD 5000 Graphics – the same CPU and GPU found on the MacBook Air, 4 GB RAM and a 500 GB 5400-rpm hard drive. However, it is disappointing to see the new Mac mini does not come with solid-state storage across the line by default. An SSD is only available on the higher-end Mac minis as a build-to-order option. Higher-end Mac minis come with the more powerful Intel Iris GPU.
According to an Apple sales representative, the new Mac mini no longer has user-replaceable memory slots, which is a big departure from the accessibility of the previous-generation Mac mini. This, alongside the lack of a dedicated GPU which is something some were hoping for in this Mac mini update, might be a deal-breaker for some customers. However, as an entry-level Mac with a lower price point, the new Mac mini will be a great choice for those switching to a Mac for the first time, replacing an older computer or for those that simply prefer to use their own monitor.
Also announced is the immediate release of the new version of the Mac OS operating system, OS X Yosemite, with the biggest UI overhaul since the original Mac OS X release. Inspired by the design of iOS 7, OS X now includes a flatter design with greater emphasis on translucency. While the design is new, OS X Yosemite is functionally very similar to previous versions of OS X with most functions and application features in the same place as before, so there won’t be a major shock to new users that will be experiencing OS X Yosemite for the first time after upgrading. Yes, the Aqua user interface has all but disappeared. R.I.P.
Many of the stock applications and functions have also been updated. Perhaps most prominent is the improved Spotlight search function. When invoked, Spotlight now appears as a white bar in the middle of the screen, and is more functional than it was before. It searches online sources such as Wikipedia and Apple Maps. Spotlight can still be invoked by pressing Cmd + Space bar as before.
Some other applications that have been updated include Safari and Mail. In particular, Safari has an even more compact design, with the bookmarks bar being integrated directly into the URL address bar. When you focus on the address bar, all your bookmarks are displayed in the drop down that appears. Also back in Safari are built-in RSS feeds – a welcome reintroduction! Mail is much the same as before, but includes some really nice new features such as the ability to mark out your signature using either the built-in touchpad on your MacBook or the Magic Trackpad on a desktop Mac.
Users can upgrade to OS X Yosemite from the Mac App Store, and is compatible with the following Macs – the exact same requirements as for OS X Mavericks:
- iMac, Mid 2007 or newer
- MacBook (Polycarbonate), Early 2009 or newer
- MacBook (Aluminium), Late 2008 or newer
- MacBook Pro (13-inch), Mid 2009 or newer
- MacBook Pro (15-inch), Mid or Late 2007 or newer
- MacBook Air, Late 2008 or newer
- Mac mini, Early 2009 or newer
- Mac Pro, Early 2008 or newer
- Xserve, Early 2009 or newer
Before upgrading, it is recommended you backup your Mac first in case anything goes wrong. You can use an external drive to backup your entire Mac using a built-in backup facility called Time Machine, which can be activated by going to System Preferences, or by launching Time Machine directly from Launchpad or via Spotlight.