Apple’s New Offerings: It’s What You Can’t See That’s Most Important

Apple doesn’t hold press conferences, it holds Media Events, and it had a big one yesterday. There’s been a lot of speculation about what exactly Apple would be announcing and unveiling, and in the end it was a bit of a smorgasbord. But there are a few general trends to note: Apple products are getting smaller, shinier, and tougher.

iPad Air 2

The iPad Air 2 will be more slim, thinner than even the iPhone, by a hair. It will also feature Touch ID fingerprint biometrics.

Here’s what’s shrinking: The iPad Air 2 will be more slim, thinner than even the iPhone, by a hair. The forthcoming Apple Watch, which was the only really “new” Apple product discussed at the event (considering that the other products are merely new iterations of older products), is probably going to be the smallest Apple device yet (Or else a comically oversized watch). And the iPad Mini 3, while not actually terribly different from previous iPad Minis, will actually shrink the price tags of those older models.

In terms of shiny stuff, yes, there is some shiny stuff: The new iPads will be available in a gold color scheme; the new iMac has a 5K retina display; the new OS X, called “Yosemite”, will have a fancy new design whose approach hews closer to the operating systems of the iPhone and the iPad.

But the biggest updates and changes are the under-the-hood things – the tweaks and upgrades that make products tougher, more powerful, and more secure. The iPad Air 2 and the new Mac Mini will have faster processors, and that’s great, but more significantly, both new iPads are going to have biometric technology in the form of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanners. That’s going to tie in nicely with Apple Pay, which is going to launch on Monday: The mobile payment platform will offer consumers a new way to do daily transactions, and knowing that consumers’ main hesitation to embrace such technology is their concerns about security, Apple seems to be relying heavily on the reliability and safety of biometric authentication technology in its attempt to persuade them to make the leap over to mobile payments.

The installation of fingerprint scanners in the new iPads is an exciting and pretty confident step in the direction of biometric security and mobile commerce. It’s hard to imagine Apple walking back from this technology as it moves forward with future devices like the Apple Watch. It’s a big bet, but one with a big potential payoff and a lot of stakeholders paying close attention.