September sees new product launches from Apple, Amazon
September was a busy month for gadget fans.
Apple introduced a brand new software update, iOS 7, alongside two new iPhones.
Amazon unveiled a new tablet with a first-of-its-kind technical support video line called Mayday.
BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry’s famed instant message client, which was set to release on iPhone and Android, was delayed.
On top of all the product announcements, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer resigned after a 13-year stint as the head of the company.
The new iPhones and iOS 7
Apple changed things up this year by introducing two new iPhones — the 5s and the 5c.
Released Sept. 20, the 5s is Apple’s flagship model, priced at $199 for a 16 GB model and $299 and $399 for the 32 GB and 64 GB versions, respectively.
It adds in a fingerprint scanner called Touch ID, a slow-motion camera and fast new 64-bit processor — but looks identical to the iPhone 5 apart from coming in a new, sought-after gold color.
In terms of color, the 5c is full of it: The phone doesn’t have any of the new features of the 5s, but comes in five bright colors — green, blue, yellow, pink and white and costs only $99 on contract for a 16 GB model.
The real Apple story of the month is iOS 7, the new software update for iPhones and iPads. The update introduces a whole new look to the phone, removing the glossy icons and real-world inspired textures of past iOS versions.
A new “parallax” feature makes the phone background respond as users move the phone, giving the phone a sense of depth that users have to see to believe — at the expense of making some people nauseous.
IOS 7 is a free update to all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users with an iPhone 4 or later.
Amazon’s new tablet and Mayday
While Apple hasn’t yet announced a new iPad this year, Amazon refreshed its Kindle line Sept. 25, with the new Kindle HDX. It is a $229 tablet with a seven-inch display and 16 GB of storage. Thirty-two GB and 64 GB sizes are available for approximately $40 and $80 extra.
The biggest new feature of the HDX isn’t its better display or improved battery life — it’s Mayday — Amazon’s virtual, on-device tech support line that promises real people to help with questions or problems on the tablet in 15 seconds or less.
After pushing a Mayday button, users can start a one-way video call with a trained Amazon representative. The worker will answer any questions and even has the ability to control the tablet to help with tricky fixes.
Amazon also introduced a larger 8.9-inch version of the HDX with the same features as the 7-inch mode, save for a bigger screen and bigger $379 price.
BBM’s delayed return
BlackBerry Messenger, once passionately known as BBM to millions of BlackBerry users, is back — or at least it should be soon. Despite an announcement in May that BBM would be making the leap to iPhone and Androids in September, BlackBerry ended up postponing the release to an undetermined time.
The real question: Will anyone even use the service anymore with the popularity of apps like GroupMe, WhatsApp, KakaoTalk and Apple’s iMessage?
Steve Ballmer resigns as Microsoft CEO
After 13 years as the head of the software giant, Steve Ballmer announced his retirement as CEO of Microsoft, effective some time in the next 12 months. He took over the company after Bill Gates retired as CEO in 2000.
Ballmer leaves the company in not the best state –– Microsoft’s Surface tablet has seen low sales and hurt the company’s profits in 2012 to the tune of $900 million dollars. The company’s stock responded to Ballmer’s announcement by jumping up 7.5 percent the day of the news.
Tyler Gold is a contributing tech writer for The Daily Targum and an intern at The Verge. Follow him on Twitter @tylergold.