Apple on Tuesday revealed its updated iMac computers and three new accessories: the Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2, and Magic Mouse 2.
The keyboard and trackpad received the biggest updates, at least aesthetically, while the mouse looks and functions the same as its predecessor.
Apple (AAPL) claims typing on the new Magic Keyboard is now smoother, thanks to a redesigned scissor mechanism sitting below each key.
Force Touch, a feature Apple has slowly introduced to many of its flagship products throughout the last year, is now integrated into the Magic Trackpad 2. Various functions, such as previewing a web link, can now be accomplished using Force Touch by applying pressure to the trackpad. The touch-sensitive technology is also found in the Apple Watch and Macbook, while it goes by a different name, 3D Touch, with the iPhone 6S.
Looks and performance improvements aside, the most intriguing aspect about the announcement is that all three accessories can be recharged using Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable.
Apple claims each device will last roughly one month before needing a recharge. A full charge takes two hours, while you can squeeze nine hours of use out of just two minutes of charge time when in a pinch.
Apple first introduced its proprietary Lightning connector with the announcement of the iPhone 5, frustrating longstanding iOS users who had stockpiled the company’s larger, slower 30-pin cables. Since then, Apple’s entire iOS line has transitioned to the small 8-pin connector.
More recently, we’ve seen Apple continue to expand the use of its Lightning adapter outside of its iOS products. The upcoming Apple TV remote, Apple Pencil, and Beats Pill+ Bluetooth speaker all are charged using Apple’s Lightning technology.
The ability to charge everything using one cable is a technology utopia we’ve all dreamed of, and Apple is slowly building it. Instead of forcing its customers to manage different cables for its various products, Apple is making it easy. Simply use the same cable that charges your iPhone to charge your Apple TV remote, iPad, keyboard, or wireless speaker.
Apple’s push to power its products with its own technology comes shortly after Google and Microsoft announced that their new flagship smartphones (the Nexus and Lumia) won’t include a microUSB connection. Instead the devices will come equipped with the new USB Type-C standard, which will force users to buy new cables.
Another reason for the change is by using the Lightning cable, Apple can do more than just charge the device. Initial pairing of the new keyboard, mouse, or trackpad with a Mac isn’t done through a clunky Bluetooth menu. Instead, users plug the accessory into the Mac using the included Lightning cable and a few seconds later setup is complete. Additionally, users who already have the new accessories are reporting they continue to work when Bluetooth is turned off and they’re plugged into a Mac.
The impact on the environment is also another aspect Apple likes to play up, but I’m more excited about not having to hunt down AA batteries just to finish an email because my keyboard batteries died.
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