4 Surprising Announcements at Apple, Inc.'s "Spring Forward" Event

By Markets Fool.com

At Apple's Spring Forward event today, the company had a few product and service announcements, along with some new information on the Apple Watch. Here are the most important tidbits from the event.

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Apple Watch. Image source: Apple.

A new MacBook
Apple must be upping the ante on its secrecy. Akin to the tech giant's feat in preventing part leaks ahead of its Apple Watch unveil, part leaks about Apple's new MacBook, which the rumor mill was referring to as a Macbook Air with a Retina display, were basically nonexistent leading up to Apple's Spring Forward event on Monday. But, sure enough, a small new Apple laptop with a Retina display was shown off.

With the new MacBook, Apple asserts it has reinvented the notebook. Indeed, the achievements with the new device are quite a mouthful. Here is a bulleted list of some of the notable features.

  • A 12-inch Retina display -- the smallest and thinnest Retina display Apple has ever developed for its Mac line.
  • The new MacBook is tiny. It weights just 2 pounds and is 24% thinner than the 11-inch MacBook Air.
  • Despite its smallness, Apple managed to fit a full-sized keyboard that goes right up to the device's edges.
  • Keys were redesigned with a butterfly mechanism that is 40% thinner than the traditional scissor mechanism yet four times more stable when pressed.
  • An all-new Force Touch trackpad brings force sensors and haptic feedback, similar to the touch technology in the Apple Watch, to the Mac.
  • The logic board is 67% thinner than the one found in the 11-inch MacBook Air, made possible using advanced miniaturization technology.
  • Thanks to a new industry-standard USB-C port that can be used for charging, data transfer, and video output, combined with the growing possibilities with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies, the new MacBook only sports one single port.
  • Pricing for the new MacBook begins at $1,299.

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Bringing the iPhone colors of space gray and gold (in addition to the silver used in Apple's Macs today) to the Macbook, the MacBook is available in three colors. It begins shipping on Friday April 10.

Apple's new MacBook comes in three colors. Image source: Apple.

HBO cuts the chord
Time Warner
's HBO launched stand-alone access to its content through Apple TV. Initially exclusive to Apple TV, the new service costs $14.99 a month and doesn't require a cable subscription. The new service will be available April 12 -- just in time for the new HBO Game of Thrones TV show.

Apple also announced a price cut for its Apple TV set top box, dropping the price from $99 to $69.

Apple Watch battery life is surprisingly good
One of the biggest concerns leading up to today's event was Apple Watch battery life. As it turns out, Apple managed to deliver some solid specs on this front.

Apple Watch uses magnetic induction charging. Image source: Apple.

The battery lasts about 18 hours, according to Apple.

"All-day battery life is based on 18 hours with the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 30-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours," reads Apple's site. Once Apple Watch enters power reserve mode when the battery is low, Apple claims the device lasts up to 72 hours.

Charging is also notable. The device can be charged to 80% in 1.5 hours and to full battery in 2.5 hours.

Apple Watch Edition is a luxury item
Don't get too excited about the 18-karat gold Edition version of the Apple Watch -- unless you are ready to spend at least $10,000. Apple Watch Edition models cost $10,000 to $17,000 -- in line with the pricing of gold watches from other luxury watchmakers.

Pricing for the entry-level Apple Watch Sport starts at $349. Stainless steel models range from $549 to $1,099.

Apple Watch Edition. Image source: Apple.

Pre-orders for Apple Watch begin April 10 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the U.S. First deliveries of Apple Watch in these nine countries will begin on April 24.

The rest
Beyond these surprising tidbits, Apple also refreshed its 13-inch Macbook Pro and its MacBook Air models.

"Today the popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 11-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Air all received significant upgrades," said Apple senior marketing chief Philip Schiller.

Schiller continued:

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest processors, more powerful graphics, faster flash, longer battery life and the all-new Force Touch trackpad. We're also bringing the latest processors and graphics, and faster Thunderbolt 2 to the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air, as well as up to two times faster flash to the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Also worth noting, Apple launched ResearchKit, an open source project designed for helping doctors and scientists in medical and health research through iPhone apps.

Apple's Spring Forward event can be replayed here.

What's next for Apple? Going forward, investors and the Street will be keeping a keen eye on the Apple Watch launch. Beyond potential numbers from Apple on pre-orders and first-weekend sales, it will be interesting to see how the Watch impacts Apple's bottom line. With Apple Watch availabile for more than two months of Apple's third fiscal 2015 quarter, investors will finally be able to get an idea of what the watch means for Apple's business when it reports Q3 results.

The article 4 Surprising Announcements at Apple, Inc.'s "Spring Forward" Event originally appeared on Fool.com.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.