Apple September event wrap: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch, Apple Pay

Jonathan Stewart
10 September, 2014
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iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, apple, launch, macworld australiaApple took to the stage this morning to unveil two much anticipated, new iPhone models, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, a new payment system called Apple Pay and the Apple Watch range.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller introduced the new, thinner iPhone lineup. The phones feature Retina HD displays, curved bezels, a new A8 chip and stainless steel Apple logos.

The last two iPhone models have featured a 4in display but, as expected, the iPhone 6 model has a larger 1334 x 750, 4.7in display, with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, while the iPhone 6 Plus comes with a 1920 x 1080, 5.5in display with a pixel density of 401ppi.

According to Schiller, the iPhone 6 has over one million pixels packed into its display, while the iPhone 6 Plus has over twice that number. This means the new displays have 38 percent and 185 percent more pixels respectively than the iPhone 5s and offer deeper blacks and broader viewing angles.

Thanks to the new displays and a slimmer backlight, both new models are also thinner than previous generation iPhones, with the iPhone 6 measuring 6.9mm in depth and the iPhone 6 Plus measuring slightly more at 7.1mm, but still falling below that of the 7.6mm deep iPhone 5s.

The new iPhone 6 Plus’ bigger display has allowed Apple to integrate options previously restricted to iPads. The Messages app will show faces of your contacts and users can see the 2-up display that you can currently see on the iPad.

The keyboard on the iPhone models will also offer extra keys in landscape mode, dedicated to cut, copy and paste.

Apple has sought to make the bigger iPhone more user friendly by moving the power button to the side of the iPhone and by unveiling a new gesture called Reachability. Users can double tap the Touch ID button and the whole display slides down, making it easier to reach the top of the display without taking your hand off the phone.

The next-generation 64-bit A8 chip will power the new models, with a GPU that’s up to 50 percent faster, a CPU that’s up to 25 percent faster and a 50 percent increase in power efficiency. When compared to the original iPhone launched in 2007, the new iPhone 6 is almost 50 times as responsive.

The motion co-processor announced with the iPhone 5s has been updated as well. The M8 chip can tell when you’re cycling, walking and running, and estimate the distance travelled, how many steps you have taken and how many flights of stairs you have climbed.

The new models will also utilise new Wi-Fi capabilities, increased LTE support and a new technology called VoLTE.

The camera in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will offer 8MP iSight photography, with True Tone flash, 1.5 micron pixels, f/2.2 aperture and a new phase detection autofocus sensor, which offers fast autofocus. The new cameras will provide users with 1080p at 30 and 60 fps and slow-mo videos at up to 240 fps.

The front-facing FaceTime HD camera has also seen improvements with improved face detection and a new sensor.

The iPhone 6 model offers up to 50 hours of audio playback, 11 hours of video or Wi-Fi browsing and 10 hours of LTE or 3G browsing.

The 5.5in iPhone 6 Plus offers a little more. With up to 80 hours of audio playback and 12 hours of internet browsing.

The iPhone 6 will be available in Gold, Silver and Space Grey and come in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB options. It will be priced at $869, $999 and $1129 respectively.

The iPhone 6 Plus is available in the same configurations, but starts at $999 (16GB), $1129 (64GB) and $1249 (128GB).

Pre-orders will begin on 12 September in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Home Kong and the US and UK.

iOS 8 will be available to iOS users on 17 September with a iPhone 4s or later and an iPad 2 or later.

Apple Watch

Apple has proved the rumours correct with the launch of the highly anticipated Apple Watch. In fact, Apple has launched three Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition, all to be released next year. All three versions are available in two sizes – 38mm and 42mm in height.

The new devices feature third-party apps, health and fitness sensors, a new swipe-based messenger, a flexible Retina sapphire display and Siri. They are available in a range of six different band styles.

It’s the first new product line under Tim Cook’s leadership, and accordingly the Apple CEO took the opportunity to make the announcement about the smartwatch.

“We’ve been working incredibly hard for a long time on an entirely new products. We believe this product will redefine what people expect from this category. I am so excited and so proud to share it with you this morning,” said Cook, during his introduction.

The Apple Watch models aim to provide a comprehensive picture of your daily activity and feature a custom-designed chip, inductive charging, haptic feedback and a water-resistant speaker. The models have a touchscreen and a button and dial, called the Digital Crown, on the right-hand side of the device.

The watch will allow users to control music on their iPhones and computers, check the weather and time, view and send messages, talk to Siri, look at photos and get directions with Maps.

Apple Watch users will be able to choose what information they would like the watch to notify them about. If they choose to look at something that comes in, by raising their wrist they will see the notifications. Users can also swipe down on the display to see notifications and to also make them disappear.

A new messaging app, Digital Touch, allows users to communicate with those in their contacts list via drawn images. Images drawn are sent to the Apple Watch worn by the chosen contact and they can reply in kind.

When it comes to fitness, the Apple Watch has a number of sensors to detect how the wearer is travelling. The watch has four sapphire lenses on the back of the device facing the wearer’s skin – infrared and visible light LEDs along with photo sensors detect the user’s pulse rate.

The watch will come with two new apps. The Fitness app monitors all of your activity and movement through the day, while the Workout app lets you set specific goals for specific types of workouts, like cycling or running.

The smartwatch uses an accelerometer and a custom sensor to measure intensity by tracking heart rate, and uses GPS/Wi-Fi in an iPhone to track how far you moved.

Users will be able to personalise both the appearance and capability of their smartwatch, with six different straps and a mechanism to make them easily interchangeable. The strap options include a leather modern buckle, soft leather sport, classic leather buckle, stainless steel link bracelet, metal mesh loop and an elastomer-based sport band.

The Apple Watch features a polished case made from a custom alloy of stainless steel. The Apple Watch Sport is made from an anodised aluminium case, which is 60 percent stronger than the Apple Watch. The third model, the Apple Watch Edition’s case is made from 18k gold, twice as hard as standard gold.

The Apple Watch works seamlessly with iCloud, but will require an iPhone.

The Australian price is yet to be announced but the watches will be available in the US for US$349 in early 2015.

Apple Pay

Apple wasn’t satisfied with the Apple Watch and two new iPhone models, also launching a new mobile payment system called Apple Pay that will initially begin in the US.

The new system will utilise NFC (near field communication), built into the top of the new iPhone models and the Apple Watch models, and allow users to make swipe payments from credit cards stored in the company’s Passbook app.

 

According to Cook, there are over 200 million transactions every day and the Cupertino-based company is hoping to simplify these transactions.

“Payments is a huge business. Every day between credit and debit, we spend US$12 billion. That’s over US$4 trillion a year, and that’s just in the US,” Cook said at the launch.

“This whole process is based on this little piece of plastic. And whether it’s a credit or debit card, we’re totally reliant on the exposed numbers and the outdated and vulnerable magnetic strip. Which, by the way, is five decades old, and the security codes… which aren’t that secure.”

Cook elaborated on why attempts to solve this issue have failed in the past.

“It’s because as it turns out, most people that have worked on this have started by focusing on creating a business model that was centred on their self-interest, instead of focusing on the user experience. We love this kind of problem. This is exactly what Apple does best.”

The new system keeps all personal data in a secure portion of the iPhone’s chip and out of the reach of both Apple and the merchant. When a user goes to a physical location, Apple won’t know what they bought or how much they paid for it and the cashier won’t get to see a buyer’s name, credit card number or security code, as they do today when the buyer hands them a card.

If an iPhone is lost, users will be able to suspend transactions using their personal Find My iPhone login.

Reflection

The Apple CEO took a moment at the beginning of the presentation to reflect on the location. Apple headed back to the Flint Center, where Steve Jobs revealed the Macintosh 30 years ago.

“There’s such amazing history here,” Cook said. “We’ve had some of the most important product introductions in Apple’s history on this stage.

“On this stage, 30 years ago, Steve introduced Macintosh to the world. And on this stage we introduced the iMac. Which signalled the rebirth of Apple.”

But the main focus of today’s event was the launch of three much rumoured products.

 

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