Apple’s New iPhones and Watches: All You Need to Know
On Tuesday at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California — the same venue where the original Mac computer was unveiled — Apple launched the newest additions to its line of mobile devices. Now that the months of rumors, leaks, and speculation are over, we’ll keep the buildup short and sweet. Read on for the highlights of the event, where Apple announced the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Pay, and — “one more thing” — the Apple Watch.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook told the expectant crowd in Cupertino, “Today we are launching the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone, and I couldn’t be more excited and more proud to show it to you now.” His first announcement of the day: the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Both models feature a cover glass that curves around to meet the aluminum enclosure, a new Retina HD display, and “ion-strengthened glass,” (no sapphire here). The phones are powered by the A8 chip, which Apple says brings up to 25 percent faster processing power and up to 50 percent faster graphics.
Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller showed the audience the size of the new iPhones, compared to the 4-inch display size of the current iPhone 5s and 5c. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch display, and the iPhone 6 Plus features a 5.5-inch display. The iPhone 6 has a resolution of 1334 by 750 pixels with 326 pixels per inch. The iPhone 6 Plus has a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels with 401 pixels per inch (for full 1080p resolution).
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are also the thinnest iPhones yet, with the iPhone 6 measuring just 6.9 millimeters and the iPhone 6 Plus only marginally larger, at 7.1 millimeters. That’s compared to the 7.6 millimeter thickness of the iPhone 5s.
With larger screen size of the new iPhone models comes a new landscape view to make the most of the increased screen size. (That was kept under wraps when Apple announced iOS 8 at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.) Using the Touch ID button also enables a one-handed mode.
The iPhone 6′s M8 processor continuously measures motion data from the phone’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. iOS 8′s Health app will take advantage of a barometer, new to the iPhone 6, that will sense air pressure to measure relative elevation, and detect if users are climbing a hill, a mountain, or even a staircase.
Apple also introduced iOS 8′s Metal graphics API, which will enable mobile game developers to maximize the graphics and computing potential of the games that they build for iOS. The A8 processor enables the iPhone 6 to handle performance-intensive tasks, like playing games at higher frame rates.
Stephan Sherman of Super Evil Megacorp provided a demo of Vainglory on the iPhone 6, and twenty-three developers, including EA Games, Gameloft, Disney, and Firemonkeys, have committed to delivering iPhone 6 games before the end of the year.
The iPhone 6 features an 8MP iSight camera with 1.5 micron pixels, f/2.2 aperture, and a new iSight sensor. The camera features phase detection autofocus, which enables it to focus almost twice as fast as the cameras in the previous generation of iPhones. Focus Pixels in the new sensor help determine the focus direction, and how far to move the lens. The camera uses faster autofocus, tone mapping, and advanced noise reduction to take better portraits, macro images, landscapes, and even panoramas up to 43 megapixels.
A new image signal processor on the A8 chip helps with shaky hands and low light. One feature that differs between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus is the camera’s image stabilization. The iPhone 6 has standard image stabilization, but the iPhone 6 Plus features optical image stabilization, and the lens is able to move up and down, plus side to side, and integrate with the phone’s gyroscope, to capture better images. The camera also features a new Apple-designed video encoder, and users can take slow-motion videos at 120 fps or 240 fps.
The iPhone 6 has faster LTE than the iPhone 5s, with 20 LTE bands and support for more than 200 LTE carriers around the world. With 802.11ac, the iPhone 6′s WiFi speeds are up to three times faster than those of the iPhone 5s. And combining WiFi and LTE capability, the iPhone 6 supports VoLTE calling, which enables users to make calls over WiFi. Support for the feature starts with T-Mobile in the U.S. and EE in the United Kingdom.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus come with iOS 8, Apple’s new mobile operating system, which brings more capable messaging, the Health app, and notification extensions. iOS 8 will be available on September 17, and will be supported by the iPhone 4s and later and the iPad 2 and later.
The iPhone 6 comes in gold, silver, and space gray. It starts at $199 with a two-year contract. The iPhone 6 Plus also comes in gold, silver, and space gray. It starts at $299. With the launch of the iPhone 6 models, Apple has reduced the prices on the current models, with the iPhone 5s starting at $99, and iPhone 5c coming free with a standard two-year contract.
The iPhone 6 models will be available for pre-order on September 12 and will begin shipping on September 19 in the U.S. and eight other countries (Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan). The new iPhones will be available in fifteen countries by the end of the year.
Next, Tim Cook announced that he wanted to introduce “an entirely new category of service.” He showed the audience an image of a wallet and said that Apple’s vision is to replace the wallet. The company chose “payments” as a starting point, an area that Cook said many companies have entered but have produced solutions catering more to their self-interest than to user experience. Cook introduced Apple Pay, an “entirely new payment process,” which uses an NFC antenna, Touch ID, Passbook, and a new chip called the Secure Element.
To get started, users can add a card from their iTunes account. To add more cards, they can use the iSight camera to take a picture of the card. From there, they go to the bank to verify that the card is theirs, and then they can pay using Touch ID. When a card is added to Passbook, the number isn’t stored or shared on Apple devices or servers. Instead, each transaction is authorized with a one-time number that generates a dynamic security code.
If a phone is lost, the user can log into the Find My iPhone utility and suspend Apple Pay payments. Connected credit cards won’t need to be canceled because Apple Pay doesn’t store or use the card number. Apple won’t see what users buy, where they buy it, or how much they pay, and cashiers won’t see users’ names, card numbers, or security codes.
Apple Pay will work with American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, and works with bank issuers who cover 83 percent of credit card purchase volume. More than 220,000 locations accept contactless payments, and Apple Pay will be accepted at a range of stores including Macy’s, Panera Bread, Walgreens, Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Disney, and Staples. Apple Pay will also make purchases through apps easier, with one-touch checkout, with some merchants already on board and more joining by the end of the year. Apple Pay will be available in the U.S. in October.
With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Pay already explained, Cook came back onstage to say that there was one more thing that the company wanted to unveil, a product that aligned with the company’s vision of making technology more personal.
Cook introduced the Apple Watch, the much-rumored wearable device. as “the most personal device we’ve ever created. We set out to make the best watch in the world.” The Apple Watch is a customizable timepiece, accurate to within 50 milliseconds, and provides new ways to connect and communicate with friends and family.
Cook noted that “with every revolutionary product that Apple has created,a breakthrough in user interface has been required.” With the Mac came the mouse. With the iPod came the click wheel. With the iPhone came multi-touch. The Apple Watch turns the crown on a traditional watch into the Digital Crown, which enables wearers to scroll, zoom, and navigate the Apple Watch without covering the display.
The Apple Watch’s Digital Crown includes infrared LEDs and photodiodes, which translate rotary movement into digital data. Pressing the Digital Crown takes the interface home, which centers around the clock. The watch senses when you raise your wrist to activate the display, and the Digital Crown fluidly zooms in to apps, which are all designed for “lightweight interaction,” as explained by Jony Ive in a video played for the audience.
With a feature called Force Touch, the Apple Watch is sensitive to the difference between a tap and a press. It also provides haptic feedback via the Taptic Engine, which enables users to receive an indication that they have a notification, without anyone around them being aware.
The Apple Watch uses Infrared and visible-light LEDs, along with photosensors, to detect the wearer’s pulse rate. It also features a sapphire Retina display. One of the ways to communicate with other Apple Watch wearers is to share heartbeats, via a feature called Digital Touch, which also enables users to get each other’s attention with a tap or share a sketch.
The Apple Watch is a health and fitness companion, and provides a comprehensive picture of a user’s daily activity, establishes goals, and rewards milestones. The Apple Watch is built with an accelerometer to measure body movement, a custom sensor to measure the intensity of a workout by tracking heart rate, the ability to use an iPhone’s GPS and WiFi to track distance, a water-resistant speaker, and a zirconium back with crystal for inductive charging.
The Apple Watch’s faces are customizable, both for their appearance and their functionality. The watch itself is physically customizable, with a variety of bands in different materials and with different clasps. The Apple Watch comes in three collections — the standard Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport, and the Apple Watch Edition (which features 18K gold).
Users can receive and send messages from the Apple Watch. Apple has designed a new set of customizable emojis specifically for the Apple Watch. Cook noted that some of Apple team members use an Apple Watches to control an Apple TV, use it as viewfinder for an iPhone’s camera, or use it as a walkie-talkie. The company expects even more functionality to be available as it launches WatchKit, to enable developers to create apps that appear on the Apple Watch home screen.
With the Activity app, the Apple Watch measures three aspects of movement, with a ring for how long users move, exercise, and stand each day. The move ring shows how active users are, the exercise ring measures “brisk activity,” and the stand ring shows how often they take a break from sitting.
The workout app tracks and displays stats like calories, time, distance, and pace for users’ workouts, and they can track their progress over time with the Fitness app on the iPhone. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to work, and is compatible with the iPhone 5 and later. It will start at $349 and will be available starting early next year.
Cook assured the audience that the watch is “worth the wait” — and tech enthusiasts, Apple fans, and consumers have already begun evaluating the company’s much-anticipated announcements, iPhone 6, Apple Pay, Apple Watch, and all, with exactly that criterion in mind.
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