Apple’s new iPhones come as smartphone sales are slowing worldwide, given that many people already own one.
But researchers at IDC say that iPhone sales are growing faster than those of Android phones. IDC expects iPhone shipments to grow by 16 percent this year, while it estimates Android phones will grow only 10 percent.
During a presentation Wednesday in San Francisco, Apple introduced new iPhone models with faster processors and a new feature called 3D Touch, which allows easy access to frequent tasks by holding down on an icon. For instance, it'll be possible to update a Facebook status right from the home screen.
Android still dominates overall, with iPhones making up only about 15 percent of smartphones sold around the world. But Apple’s phones tend to be more profitable. Rivals like Samsung and HTC sell many lower-cost phones that carry lower profit margins.
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IDC recently lowered its overall forecast for smartphone shipments in 2015, saying once-hot markets like China are becoming “mature,” meaning many people already have phones. Apple has seen strong growth in China, however, and CEO Tim Cook has touted the company’s opportunities there.
Apple’s set-top box is catching up with such rivals as Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV with the ability to install new apps on the device and to search for video with voice controls.
Apple has long insisted on controlling apps available on the device’s home screen. In doing so, it can ensure that menus and keyboards look and feel the same, whether you’re on Netflix or PBS.
But there have been many services unavailable on the home screen. To watch on the TV, viewers have had to launch those apps on an iPhone or iPad first and use a feature called AirPlay to get video on the TV through the home Wi-Fi network. Complicated.
Having app choices directly on the home screen make things simpler. To make sure everything runs smoothly, Apple created a new version of its mobile operating system called “tvOS.”
The app store also allows for non-video services, such as games and music.
A new remote has a Siri microphone button for voice commands such as “show me some comedies.” The new device can search through shows and movies available on a range of apps including Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime.
Apple’s new Apple TV set-top box will start at $149 and will be available in late October.
The company will continue selling the existing model for $69, a price that had dropped from $99 in March.
The main Roku 3 and Amazon Fire TV devices cost about $100, though cheaper versions with fewer features are available – as low as $39 for the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Google also sells a Chromecast device for $35.
Apple also says its new iPad will be available in November.
The larger-screen iPad Pro model is aimed at countering weakening consumer demand for tablets.
The iPad was a runaway success when it was introduced in 2010, but sales have been declining since 2013. In part, that’s because competitors are now selling a number of lower-priced tablets that use Google’s Android software.
But sales of rivals’ tablets have been getting weaker, too. Analysts say some users are finding tablets aren’t well-suited for tasks that are easier to perform on a PC with a keyboard and mouse. And many consumers don’t see a need to upgrade their old tablets as often as they upgrade phones.
In response, Apple has tried to cultivate more iPad customers in the business world. It has partnered with IBM to develop new iPad software for workers in specific industries, such as airlines and health care.
The starting price is $799, with 32 gigabytes of storage. By contrast, the iPad Air 2 starts at $499, but the starting model has half the memory.
The Apple Pencil stylus will cost $99, while the physical keyboard accessory will cost $169.
Apple says a software update for the Apple Watch is allowing outsider developers to write more sophisticated apps.
With the update, outside developers can make apps specifically for the watch and interact directly with its sensors and controls. That will enable apps that analyze golf swings or record audio. Before, third-party apps have been limited to being extensions of apps that run on the iPhone.
The new software will be available as a free download starting next Wednesday.
Apple said there are now 10,000 apps designed for the watch, including ones from Facebook and GoPro – the later using the watch’s screen as a viewfinder for the video camera. Apple says the new capabilities will also allow additional health-related apps.
The upcoming Samsung Gear S2 will also allow outside parties to write apps that run directly on the watch. Google is also hoping programmers create apps that can work independently on watches running on its Android Wear software.