In a ‘mystery’ event at Cupertino two days back, Apple officially announced iPhone 6, Apple Watch and Apple Pay. Millions of people worldwide caught the live streaming of the event – and at the venue, each new product was welcomed with raucous applause. Let us do a wrap up of all that happened on September 9 – one of the biggest days in Apple’s history.
Putting an end to all speculations, Apple has finally launched the eagerly-anticipated iPhone 6 handset. Tim Cook and his team selected Flint Center – the place where Steve Jobs had released the first-generation iMac three decades back – as the venue of the ‘mystery’ event, which kicked off from 10:30 PM IST (5:00 PM GMT). Here’s a quick roundup of all that happened at the event every developer and general mobile enthusiast had been looking forward to:
- The phones – Everyone knew that the latest iPhone would be coming in two models – with 4.7” inch and 5.5” inch (phablet) screens. According to rumors, the latter model was expected to be announced a couple of months later. Apple sprung a surprise by announcing a simultaneous release of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Tim Cook dubbed the phones as the “biggest advancement in iPhones”.
- The REAL surprise – There had been talks about Apple working on a smartwatch (reportedly named ‘iWatch’) for nearly a year now. No one was sure when it would debut though – and many experts on wearable technology were sounding sceptic as to whether the iWatch would at all release or not. All critics have now been silenced – thanks to the grand release of Apple Watch (that’s right, there’s no ‘i’ in this product). Effectively, the Watch is Tim Cook’s first baby as the CEO of Apple.
- Payments get easier and more secure – While it remains to be seen whether Apple Pay proves to be commercially viable at the stores – there’s no doubting the element of payment convenience and enhanced security its promises. From an iPhone 6 and/or an Apple Watch, users will now be able to make payments via a single-touch. No more frantic searching of the wallet for the right credit card!
- iOS 8, the developers’ delight – For the last 48 hours or so, professional iPhone app developers have not been able to stop gushing about the features of the new version of iOS. The tech specifications of iOS 8 (which will become available from September 17, and will power iPhone 6 and other new iDevices) have more than impressed the international developer community. After the relatively lukewarm response to iOS 7, Apple has pulled out all the stops to make iOS 8 a monster hit.
- The glitz and glamor if Apple Watch – Apple Inc’s first entry into the domain of wearables has been a grand one. The company has announced two separate editions – the Standard Edition and the Luxury Edition – in which Apple Watch will be available. Of particular interest will be the gorgeous luxury model with 18 carat pure gold. To fit the wrists of everyone (thoughtful!), there will be two alternative sizes of each Watch model – 38 mm & 42 mm.
- The security factor – Mobile app development experts have always been unanimous about the security aspect of iDevices. Apple Pay takes this factor to an altogether new level. All transactions conducted via it remains confidential between users and their banks. Apple will not be recording the amount, time, or any other details of the transactions. Non-intrusive? You bet!
- Arrival of the A8 processor – The latest flagship device from Apple is almost four times faster than its predecessor, iPhone 5S. This has been made possible particularly due to the presence of the all-new A8 processor in the former. The processor supports two billion transistors on a single silicon chip – and is ideal for high-definition 3D gaming. The graphics support is excellent too. Oh, and the A8 processor will prevent excessive battery drain as well.
- Brilliance in phone display – That’s what the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus promise. The former supports 1334×750 pixels, while the latter has a whopping 1920×1080 pixels – clearly explaining what Philip Schiller (chief of marketing at Apple) meant by “stunning displays”. Both the phones will be available in three different configurations – 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB.
- Slim smartphone, great camera – Experts from software and iOS app companies worldwide refer to Apple events as benchmarks in the context of style and innovation. The September 9 event was certainly not a dampener in this regard. 6.9 mm and 7.1 mm will be the respective thicknesses of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – making them the slimmest Apple smartphones ever. The 8 MP iSight camera (nopes, there is no increase in the MP level) will have a breakthrough optical image stabilization system. Engineers from Cupertino have also worked on the exposure and autofocus of the phone camera. And what was used to explain the camera specs? High-resolution images of a huge lizard and a colorful butterfly!
- Apple finally embraces NFC – Near-field communications, for long a feature which helped sophisticated Android handsets to score over Apple devices – has finally been accepted by Tim Cook and his development team. With NFC, making purchases via Apple Pay will become easier than ever, and finance biggies like Mastercard, American Express and Visa have already pledged their support to it. Across the world, nearly 230000 retail stores would accept payments in the new mode.
- The focus on health – As had been the buzzword for weeks now, the new iPhones have dedicated health apps. The built-in barometer in the devices has, however, come as an interesting addition. Apple Watch has an embedded heart rate sensor, which will double up as an activity tracking monitor. The company has already got into a tie-up with Mayo Clinic, and the Watch definitely has the potential to be the ‘next chapter’ in the realm of mobile healthcare. The only catch is, users will need to have an iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus – to enjoy all the functionality of Apple Watch.
- Taptic Engine is now here – Staying with Apple Watch for a bit longer – this is the very first smartwatch to implement the breakthrough Taptic Engine. The technology facilitates Real Touch messaging among users. In other words, people would no longer have to type out messages to each other – one tap on the watch screen, and the other person would feel it. To make maximum usage of the watch screen, Apple has moved away from the traditional ‘pinch-to-zoom’ method to the ‘Digital Crown’ display. No wonder Cook referred to Apple Watch as his company’s “most personal product”.
- Metal and M8 – If you thought that the 64-bit Apple A8 processor is a breakthrough, well, there’s more surprises. For hardcore mobile gamers, Apple has used high-end Metal software development tools. At the event, it was said that HD games can now be played at a rate of one million polygons per second, on iPhone 6 Plus. The M8 motion processor is yet another significant addition. The new graphics chip is purported to be eighty-five times faster than that in the previous iPhone. That is, indeed, quite an achievement!
- Price and availability – Following the bitter experience with iPhone 5C, it was always expected that Apple would go back to making devices priced in the premium range. $199, $299 and $399 will be prices of the 16GB, 64GB and 128 GB variants of iPhone 6. For iPhone 6 Plus, the price tags would be $299, $399 and $499 (with two-year contracts). Pre-ordering would start from September 12, and shipments would begin a week later. Apple Watch is scheduled to hit the stores in the first quarter of 2015. It will be available from $349. The relatively late arrival of Watch drew groans of disappointment from the audience at the event. Tim Cook assured that the smartwatch will be “worth the wait”.
- Celebs at Cupertino – Rupert Murdoch, Stephen Fry, Dr. Dre, Gwen Stefani – there was no shortage of celebrity attendance at what was Apple’s biggest event in a very long time. Live tweets poured in as the activity on the social microblogging site went into overdrive during the event. Reactions were mixed – with some going ga-ga about the ‘revolutionary’ products, while others resorting to sarcastic criticisms. Simon Caine criticized the way in which Apple tends to glorify its new products and projects the older ones as ‘rubbish’.
At the Flint Center event, it was also announced that the total count of mobile apps at the iTunes store has officially touched the 1.3 million figure. For fans of U2, there were more reasons to savor the occasion – with the Irish rock band giving a terrific live performance onstage, and announcing that their forthcoming album will be available for free via iTunes. Interestingly, the share prices of Apple (AAPL) on Nasdaq fell by 0.38% on the day after topsy-turvy movements – a clear indication that most shareholders had already checked out the leaked images and videos of the new iPhone. Whether the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch meets projected sales figures remains to be seen – but there’s no denying that Tim Cook had masterminded a truly grand event (the first under his watch). The man’s career depends on the success of the new products, and he is clearly aware of that!
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