You always know when its time for a new Apple release, because my calendar is booked with TV appearances to talk about it!
On Sept 9, Apple had one of its biggest launch events in recent years, and as Apple put it, was the beginning of a new chapter for the company. Not only did the company launch two new iPhones, but also the Apple Watch (rumored to be called the iWatch), as well as a new payment system. Definitely lots to talk about.
Breaking from tradition, Apple launched two new phones, in two new sizes. It has long since been rumored that Apple was working on a larger phone (despite Steve Jobs asserting that people didn’t want big phones), and those rumors were true. Apple announced the iPhone 6, a 4.7 inch device, and the iPhone 6+, a 5.5 inch device. That added screen size means that the 6+ also gets a higher resolution. The 6+ comes in at a true 1080p, whereas the 6 comes in just better than 720p. Not that users of the devices are likely to really see the difference.
Size differences aside, the phones are nearly identical. There were a few variations though that were worth noting. First off was the 6+’s longer battery life. It’s hard to tell from the numbers Apple likes to taught, but it was clear to see that the 6+ took advantage of the larger case size by adding more battery to it. We’ll find out soon enough what that translates to in real use time though. I’m betting 1 day is still the play you’ll get out of it. The 6+ also has a slightly better camera (arguably) upgrade, in that its lens stabilization is via hardware, and not software like the 6. Will that be noticeable? Probably only in really low light situations, and even then it is going to be hard to do comparison shots. You might see differences in the video quality as well, but again, mostly in low light scenarios.
Speaking of that camera, I was a little surprised by a design choice that Apple made. The phones are very sleek with edges more reminiscent of the earlier iPhones, but with rounded sides and beautiful aluminum cases (no plastic ones this time!). Out of that nice aluminum case though, protrudes the camera lens. This is the first time Apple has released an iPhone with something breaking through the surface of the device… and I’m a little perplexed by it. Clearly they just ran out of room! We’ve seen phones like this in the past, and frankly what was protruding was always the first thing to break… or the first thing to make a gash in your kitchen table. It’ll be interesting to see how they hold up. With Apples announcement of a line of cases for these phones, it was clear; the phone is meant to be housed in a case. Perhaps they were betting on that when they decided to let the lens stick out of the back of the phone.
The big news of the launch event wasn’t the phones, though. No, it was the much anticipated iWatch, known officially as the Apple Watch. Finally, after two years of waiting, the rumored Apple wearable has hit the stage. As I commented in one of the videos, after two years of waiting, I guess one couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. After all, many of the “what it could look like” designs were, in fact, cooler than the real thing.
All that stuff aside, what is the Apple Watch? Well, there are still a lot of questions about that. The device is clearly meant to be a fitness wearable, with its plethora of sensors. It is also clearly meant to be a fashion piece, with Tim Cook calling it a watch you could wear all day (perhaps a nod to its, yet to be announced, battery life). The designers also showed off that it could send and receive text messages and Facebook notices… and its assumed it can interact with the phone in some meaningful way… but outside of that, not much was said. They did mention, however, that the watch had a totally new operating system. This is something that the Android developers should take note of, as the Android watches have all been a bit long in tooth. Even though none of the attendees could touch the watch, I’m sure we can count on this new interface being very user friendly. We’ll talk more about this in the future, I’m positive.
The New Payment System, Apple Pay
In addition to the new lineup of devices, Apple also spent a good deal of time discussing their new payment system called Apple Pay. Meant to take the place of your wallet (because who carries cash anymore), Apple Pay will allow you to make in-store credit card payments with merchants that have compatible payment terminals (namely NFC ready terminals). The interesting thing about this were the partnerships that Apple announced. Bank of America and McDonalds being the top partners, and a host of others waiting in the wings. This is one of those features that *could* be nice, but I’m interested to see how many people actually use it. This technology has been out in the Android devices for a while with little fanfare, but then again, they also didn’t have the dedication of all those partners either (or the fanboys for that matter). This one rests in the “we’ll see” bucket for me. One word of caution though, I’d wait on this one until Apple spends some time talking about how they secure this information. If its backed up to the cloud, it *should* be encrypted in order for the credit card companies to be onboard, but I want assurances from them before I believe it. Without these assurances, we’ve got the same problem on our hands that the celebrities did with their nude photos, except your credit card data getting stolen is potentially much more damaging (though perhaps less embarrassing).
Let me say that again. If your credit card data is being backed up to iCloud, and Apple isn’t taking new and extreme measures to protect it… we’ve got a problem on our hands.
Outside of iCloud, I’d also want to know how Apple is protecting the credit card information on the phones themselves. It sounded as though the transactions would be protected as you’d expect from the new EMV cards, but we just don’t know. Saying that it is “perfectly secure”, especially in light of all the recent iCloud goofiness, just isn’t enough.
Here are a couple of other spots I did on the same topic. Let me know what you think!