Apple events are the most hyped in the tech cycle and can consequentially be among the most disappointing. When Steve Jobs was on form he was an amazing showman and Apples products have often been truly innovative. In the last few years Apple have gradually lost their lead position in some categories and todays press event has been billed (by the press) as being the answer to this with a new iOS, iPhone and potentially iWatch. There was also much speculation as to if the recent celebgate leaks would be addressed and how the potential perception of security problems would be handled.
The event was held in Cupertino in a venue that last saw the release of the first iMac but has been unused by Apple for 10 years and was very well attended by the tech press as well as the music and fashion industry representatives. It was livestreamed but Apple had numerous problems showing a very broken Chinese language stream to the whole world. So what did we get?
In short we got a new iPhone – the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, a new payment system called ApplePay and the Apple Watch.
The new iPhone is as expected bigger with a 4.7 inch screen and a 5,5 inch screen with glass fronts that curve around to a metal back and the power button on the side. They are the thinnest iPhones Apple has ever made at 6.9mm and 6.7mm. The iPhone Plus comes with a software landscape mode to get two panes or windows next to each other and a feature called ‘reachability’ where the display slides down on a double click of the power button to let you reach the top of the screen one handed.
All of Apples default apps are being updated to take advantage of the higher resolution screens and the larger amount of space. Third parties will be given tools to make changes to their apps but until then (or if they do not) apps will be upscaled on the fly.
Battery life has been increased, partially by being more energy efficient although it appears the battery itself is actually slightly smaller. A barometer has been added to the sensor suite to allow measurement of height above sea level.
The camera has been overhauled with a lower megapixel than the iPhone 5 but a better sensor and a host of other changes – this should mean better photos overall. Apple has always been a leader in camera phones and the 6 makes it likely that this will continue.
iOS 8 has been shown off a little more with the idea of extensibility or ad-ons being shown and the new Health app being shown off for a very short time.
In the US the iPhone 6 will be $199 for the 16gb, $299 for the 64 and $399 for the 128gb. The iPhone 6 Plus will be $299 for the 16gb , $399 for the 64GB and $499 for the 128GB. They will be available for order in the US on September the 12th and start shipping on September the 19th. They will reach 115 countries by the end of 2014 although there is no specific UK information as of yet,
Apple then took aim at payment with a new system called Apple Pay. The system uses the TouchID fingerprint sensor with a NFC chip to authenticate. In other words touch a finger to the home button then the phone to the reader and it’s done. The difficulty is not the technology but getting retailers onboard. Google has had a similar system for two years but has been unable to get it off the ground. Apple may have the market share and clout and has made deals with Visa and Mastercard that – only time will tell if it works.
Finally Apple announced a watch. The Apple Watch is a square smartwach with a removeable strap. It has small rotating button on the side called a crown which is the main controller in addition to the touch screen and voice control. It will be available in two sizes – a larger more rectangular and smaller more square version. There are a number of material and colour options both of the body and the interchangeable straps.
The watch is tied to the iPhone but will also communicate with Mac computers.
From a software point of view the Watch is running a cut down version of iOS and it appears that apps will specifically need to be designed for it. It looks surprisingly similar to Android Wear although much more complex. Only time will tell if that extra complexity will be a good thing.
The Apple Watch will be available early 2015 and will cost $349 in the US.