Last Tuesday, Apple launched their fall products for 2014 at a keynote event in Cuptertino, California. This event was the biggest Apple product launch in recent memory. Here’s everything you need to know about what they announced!
iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus – This is the second year in a row that Apple has released two distinct iPhone models at its fall keynote address. Last year they released the brand new iPhone 5s alongside a repackaged and recolored version of the iPhone 5 – the 5c. This year, though, was quite a bit different than last year. For the first time ever, the company introduced two brand new iPhone models with differing screen sizes. And they’re bigger. A lot bigger.
Design – The iPhone 6 sports a 4.7-inch screen, up from the previous 5s’ 4-inch screen. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, has a monstrous 5.5-inch screen. The great news about these larger screen sizes, though, is that Apple has managed to reduce the size of the bezels (the space between the screen and the edge of the device) making the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus much easier to hold in one hand. On top of that, the screens are what Apple is calling “Retina HD,” and they pack in a much higher pixel density which will yield a greatly improved viewing experience. The screens also have higher contrast and better viewing angles when compared with previous iPhone models. Other than just being larger, the new iPhones borrow much of their design language from Apple’s current iPod Touch and iPad models. They have left behind the angular chamfered edges found on the iPhone 5 and 5s and have rounded edges that look much more comfortable to hold in one’s hand. And they’re thinner than the iPhone 5s was, clocking in at 6.9mm for the iPhone 6 and 7.1mm for the iPhone 6 Plus.
Technology – Both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus contain Apple’s new A8 chip which sees a huge increase in terms of performance from last year’s A7 that was found in the iPhone 5s when it comes to processing power and graphics rendering. Both iPhone 6 models also contain Apple’s M8 coprocessor which handles things like the device’s accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and a new barometric pressure sensor that all allow you to record detailed information about your workouts.
Even more exciting in my book than these improved processors, though, is that for the first time in memory the iPhone, both models, will see a big increase in battery life. Just based on talk time, the iPhone 5s clocked in at 10 hours of battery life. The iPhone 6 sets its bar at 14 hours of talk time while the 6 Plus sets a new standard at up to 24 hours of talk time. When it comes to audio playback, the iPhone 5s had up to 40 hours of battery life. The iPhone 6, on the other hand has up to 50 hours while the iPhone 6 Plus doubles last year’s model’s battery life and clocks in at an impressive 80 hours.
In terms of cellular connectivity, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have a faster LTE chip, enabling speeds of up to 150mbps over 20 bands. Both handsets also support the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, making them capable of 3x faster wireless speeds. Another neat feature that the phones have lets you initiate calls over Wi-Fi in areas where cell reception might be low. When you leave the Wi-Fi network, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus seamlessly transition the call to your cellular network. Caveat: It looks like your carrier will have to enable support for this feature before it will actually work.
Camera – The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus’s cameras get some significant improvements too. They have faster autofocus, improved face detection, exposure control, and a higher resolution panorama mode. The iPhone 6 Plus also contains an optical image stabilizer, helping a lot with taking clear pictures in low light. In terms of video, the cameras both have a new time lapse mode and are capable of recording 1080p video at 60 frames per second. They also can capture even smoother slow motion video – doubling the 5s’ 120 frames per second to an astonishing 240 frames per second. Both cameras also have a continuous image stabilization mode for video, helping to correct shakiness during video capture.
Touch ID – Beyond an improved Touch ID sensor, the real improvement to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus’ Touch ID ecosystem is the advent of Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment solution that lets you make payments both online and in brick and mortar stores using your phone’s Touch ID sensor. This is possible due to the inclusion of an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip that’s included in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. More on Apple Pay below.
Pricing and Storage – This year, Apple ditched the middle-tier 32GB storage option on its iPhones, so the 6 and 6 Plus now come in a 16GB version, a 64GB version, and a whoppingly large 128GB version. The iPhone 6 starts at $199 for a 16GB model with a 2-year carrier contract and goes up to $299 for 64GB and $399 for $128GB. Unlocked, the iPhone 6 starts at $649. The larger iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for 16GB with a 2-year contract and runs at $399 for 64GB and $499 for $128GB. The bigger handset will cost a minimum of $749 unlocked.
Availability – Both models of the iPhone 6 are available for pre-order on Apple’s website and cellular carrier’s websites at the time of this article’s writing. The phones will both see release on September 19th, though shipping dates for pre-orders are now well into October. If you’d like to have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus on (or close to) launch day, your best option at this point is to wait in line at an Apple Store or your carrier’s physical store location and hope that supplies hold up.
Apple Pay – This is perhaps the most revolutionary “product” that Apple unveiled at its keynote. Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile payment solution that lets you use your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and Touch ID to make purchases both online and at brick and mortar stores. The best news about Apple Pay is that it’s already compatible with millions of stores. You know those card readers that have the “tap to pay” feature? Apple Pay will work with them. To make a payment at a physical store with Apple Pay, simply hold your phone near the card reader with your finger on the Touch ID button. It’s as easy as that. For online purchases, Apple is letting developers embed Apple Pay functionality directly into their apps. Purchasing something online will be as easy as scanning your finger with Touch ID. Apple Pay lets you store multiple credit cards in your phone via Passbook and make payments with the card of your choice. Apple Pay will launch in October and support the following banks out of the gate: American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo, with support for Barclaycard, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, USAA, and US Bank soon to follow. Apple Pay has the potential to change the way payments are made. Imagine not having to carry around several different credit cards with you!
Apple Watch – It’s been rumored for a long time that Apple would release a wearable device that would live on your wrist. Last Tuesday, it unveiled Apple Watch to the world. The release of Apple Watch reminds me a lot of the release of the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. When the iPod came out, there were already a ton of MP3 players on the market. When the iPhone was released, the smartphone already existed. When the iPad came out, the idea of a touchscreen tablet computer had been tried many times. Where Apple excels is taking a product category that already exists and perfecting it. There are many smartwatches being produced right now by everyone from Google to Motorola, but none of them have taken off or become desirable by the broader population. Apple Watch stands a good chance of making the smart watch something that average people will want to wear.
Design – The Apple Watch pulls a lot of design cues from other portable Apple products, but reminds me most of the original iPhone. It has a slightly rectangular, black face surrounded by a shiny metalic finish. Many had hoped that Apple would release a watch with a circular face and while I think the software the watch runs would look much better on a round screen, the Apple Watch is still a beautiful timepiece. The right side of the watch houses what Apple is calling the Digital Crown, an input device that is modeled after the crowns normally used on analog watches to adjust the time. There is also a very iPhone-esque button on the right side of the device that does such things as give you quick access to your favorite contacts. The multi-touch screen of the watch is covered with a single crystal of sapphire crystal, the second hardest transparent material known (after diamond). Interestingly, the sapphire is flexible, allowing a new input method – the Apple Watch will sense force that’s applied to the screen and will be able to distinguish between a simple tap on the screen and a press. The implications of this technology are huge as it could be brought to other devices in the future like iPhones and iPads, opening up a new dimension of interaction that currently doesn’t exist. The back of the watch houses four sensors that measure health related metrics like your pulse. As we’ll mention in the next section, Apple will release a number of different finishes and bands for the Apple Watch that will all complement its design. To charge Apple Watch, Apple has taken a page from its line of MacBook laptops and will incorporate a MagSafe connector that will attach to the back of the device, allowing it to charge without a dedicated port.
Customizability – Apple isn’t known for their love of customizability. Everyone’s iPhone looks the same. Everyone’s Macbook Air looks the same. The Apple Watch, however, is different. It will come in two different sizes, 38mm high or 42mm high. It will come in 6 different finishes – silver or space black stainless steel, silver or space gray aluminum, and 18 carat yellow or rose gold, sold in 3 different collections at 3 different price points – Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition. It will have 6 different band options – the link bracelet, the sport band, the leather loop, the classic buckle, the modern buckle, and the milanese loop. It will also have 11 customizable watch faces that the user can choose to further make their device their own. All of these options will lead to an unprecedented level of customization and an Apple Watch that is truly uniquely tailored for each person.
Features – What will the Apple Watch be able to do? Perhaps the best way to think of the Apple Watch is as your iPhone’s best friend. In fact, for the majority of the Apple Watch’s features to work it will need to be wirelessly connected to an iPhone. First, and perhaps most obviously, it will tell time. Very accurately. Apple says that it’s accurate to within 50 milliseconds. Many of the watch faces that Apple will release will also incorporate other information – including everything from the sun’s position in the sky to the moon’s phase. Next, the Apple Watch will also serve as a convenient location for all your notifications – including messages, calls, emails, and even notifications you wish to receive from third party apps. This will be convenient because it eliminates the need to remove your iPhone from your pocket to check who’s calling you or to see an important update about a sports game you’re following. You can also conveniently initiate a conversation with a contact via Apple Watch, reaching out to someone over message, email, or phone. The built in speaker and microphone will make talking on the phone or dictating messages via built-in Siri integration easy. You’ll also be able to use a new interactive Digital Touch system that Apple is implementing to send simple sketches, emoji, or even your own heartbeat to someone else with an Apple Watch. Through the built in Taptic Engine, the recipient of your messages will be able to feel your message right on their wrist. The Apple Watch also focuses closely on health tracking, tapping in to the GPS in your iPhone to track how far you’ve moved and using a built in accelerometer to measure your body’s movement. The Apple Watch then displays this information in an attractive way inside an app Apple’s calling Activity. There’s also a Workout app that tracks your workouts and records information like distance, calories, and pace. Your iPhone tracks all this information over time and builds a detailed view of your fitness activities. Apple Watch will also be integrated with Apple Pay, allowing you to make payments directly from the device. What Apple didn’t make clear, however, is how you’ll be able to do this securely since Apple Watch won’t include a Touch ID sensor. Apple Watch will also support an App Store ecosystem of third-party apps, and it will be interesting to see what developers do with Apple’s new wearable platform. One interesting stock app that Apple’s including on Apple Watch is Maps with built in walking directions. While you’re navigating, Apple Watch will send you silent notifications via the Taptic Engine that will tell you which way to turn. There are a ton of other features to the Apple Watch that I haven’t listed here. If you’d like to know more about these features, check out Apple’s website. Apple Watch has huge potential, and since this is just the beginning it will be interesting to see how it develops over time.
Pricing – Apple Watch will start at $349 and go up in price from there. It’s likely that there will be a broad range of prices and it’s been suggested that the most expensive model could top out at over $1000.
Availability – Apple Watch will go on sale early in 2015.
Free U2 Album – The final announcement at Apple’s Keynote saw world-famous band U2 take to the stage, performing a new single from their latest album – “Songs of Innocence.” Following the performance, Tim Cook and U2 frontman Bono announced that the entire album, the band’s first new album in 5 years which up until that point had been unreleased and announced, would be made available for free that day for every iTunes customer. It’s been suggested that Apple paid upwards of $100 million to make this possible. I’ve been a U2 fan for many years and I would recommend you give the new album a listen – it’s quite good. It should be available in the Music App on your iPhone or iPad or in iTunes on your Mac or PC.
Apple really packed a ton into their keynote event this fall! From the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to Apple Pay to Apple Watch, the company is definitely still on its game. I was able to preorder my iPhone 6 Plus (Silver, 16GB) and it’s expected to arrive on the launch date of September 19th. Once I get it and test it out, I’ll be sure to post a review. Thanks for checking out TeachMeiOS.com!