Yesterday at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California, the same location where the Macintosh computer was launched in 1984, Apple revealed its latest set of electronics devices with the debut of the iPhone 6 and the much rumored smartwatch, called Apple Watch. Hundreds of media were on sight to see first hand all of Apple’s offerings, and below is a recap of all that Apple debuted.
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus:
Apple has released a new version of the iPhone every year since the first iPhone debuted back in 2007. So it wasn’t surprising that Apple unveiled yet another iteration of its smartphone. What was surprising was that Apple debuted two new iPhones – the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, two versions had long been rumored, and Apple rumors have been on the money the last few years, but it was still exciting to see the two new iPhones become a reality yesterday.
I don’t know about you, but personally I feel that the full number upgrades to iPhone are always more impressive than the off-cycle “S” upgrades, which honestly seem like half-measures launched just for the sake of having a new phone available each year.
The most noticeable difference between the iPhone 6 / iPhone 6 Plus and previous versions is a size increase – and for the iPhone 6 Plus, a significant size increase. Apple had long resisted the move to bigger phones, insisting that the best home for your smartphone is in the comfy confines of your single hand. Unfortunately for Apple, Samsung blew that ideal out of the water with its ever-increasing Galaxy S series and its enormous Galaxy Note (which, by the way, at 5.7 inches is still larger than the iPhone 6 Plus). As such, Apple finally realized where the market was going and unveiled its first “phablet”, the iPhone 6 Plus.
Thankfully for smaller guys like me, Apple continued to offer a more manageable device with the iPhone 6.
Now for the tech specs. The iPhone 6 processes graphics 84X faster and have processor performance 50X greater than the original iPhone. Battery performance is essential, and the iPhone’s lackluster battery life has been recently attacked by Samsung in a series of television ads. Apple has responded strongly, claiming that the iPhone 6 is 50% more energy efficient than the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 6 has a battery life of up to 14 hours talk time, 10 days standby, and 11 hours video use. The iPhone 6 Plus boasts significant improvements over the 6’s impressive numbers, with 24 hours talk time, 16 days standby, and 14 hours video use. Apple is marketing the iPhone 6 Plus as your super portable movie player, so the battery life needs to hit these marks.
A full list of the specs is linked just above.
An Apple smartwatch has been rumored for years. After several events come and gone, and with rival Samsung actually beating Apple to the punch with its Galaxy Gear device, Apple finally released its version of the smartwatch simply called Apple Watch. You will curiously notice that Apple did not use their standard “i” nomenclature for this device, and that is clearly intentional. Apple hopes to position its smartwatch as an elegant time piece similar to your standard geared version – just with lots of electronic sensors and features.
About those features. Apple Watch functions as your go-to product for keeping on schedule, keeping in touch, staying fit, and managing your electronic life. And oh yeah, telling time. However, do any of those functions really jump out at you? Other than perhaps the fitness tracking features (such as a heart rate monitor and Health app), don’t you do all those other things already with your smart phone? Including telling time?
I have never seen the appeal of a smartwatch. Apple talks up having technology right at (or near) your fingertips, but our smartphones are only a pocket or purse away. Not really much of a barrier to using technology. And don’t many of you feel that our technology is already too intrusive? According to IDC research, only 19 million wearable devices will be sold this year, and most of those will likely be fitness-specific products, like the Mio Alpha Sport Watch, which serves a direct purpose. The Apple Watch won’t be on sale until early 2015, will cost $349, and you need an iPhone to use it. Yikes.
Apple also debuted its latest mobile OS version, iOS 8. As with previous versions, many of your familiar apps have gotten an upgrade, such as the Messages app and Notifications Center. The one feature totally new to iOS 8 is the Health app, which will enable users to compile health metrics data, such as heart rate, calories, weight, and more. Apple is also releasing HealthKit for developers, which will enable third-parties to integrate their own digital health and monitoring devices into the Health app.
Adoption of HealthKit by health and fitness companies is really interesting to me, as most Digital Health and Fitness and SportsTech companies at CES use proprietary software that works exclusively with their wearable devices. Part of this is a way to force customers to keep purchasing a specific company’s products, but a large part of this is that Apple simply never had this type of integration available before. I am curious to see which companies continue to use their own software, and which companies will push aside their own apps and instead work with HealthKit. I expect larger, established digital health and fitness companies – like FitBit – to keep using their own software. But upstarts will likely forgo the added expensive of software development and instead go with Apple’s in-house HealthKit.
Apple finally adds NFC-enabled digital payment to the iPhone. This technology is not new, but Apple is hoping its brand name and partnership with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express will push more widespread adoption of mobile payments. People still have security concerns about mobile payments, despite claims from Apple and beyond that say using mobile payments is actually more secure than taking out your physical credit card. It’s intriguing to me that people will plug in their credit card information with no issue online while having qualms about using your smartphone as your credit card.
Nevertheless, with the Apple brand now fully embracing mobile payments, I think we’ll see much larger adoption of this technology. Android users everywhere will raise up their fists in frustration, as their beloved Google Wallet never took off, only to see Apple Pay gain widespread adoption. And now that all iPhones will finally have NFC, other NFC uses (such as home audio or smart appliance uses) will finally be possible for iPhone.
Yesterday’s launch event was above average as far as previous Apple events go. Nothing will ever top the Holy Trinity of the original iMac, iPod, and iPhone launch events, but Apple has still positioned itself to be the most valuable consumer electronics company in the world.