Apple Unveils iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch

iphone 6 plus with apple watchAs widely predicted by the industry, Apple has unveiled its newest hardware additions, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and the hotly anticipated Apple Watch.

At a much-hyped launch event led by CEO Tim Cook, the company revealed what he called “the biggest advancement in the history of the iPhone” and Apples first foray into the wearable technology market.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, to be released 19 September, feature a rounded edge design, with anodized back and a Retina HD display. Both are larger than existing iPhone designs, with the iPhone 6 featuring a 4.7″ screen, with 1334 by 750 display. The iPhone 6 Plus is larger still, with a 5.5″ screen with 1920 by 1080 display. The phones are also thinner than previous iPhone designs.

The interior of the iPhone has also been improved, with the A8 chip offering faster, more efficient processing and the iOS 8 Metal graphics technology delivering console-class gaming. Battery life has also been improved from the iPhone 5s, especially on the 6 Plus, which can last for 80 hours of audio, 12 hours of wi-fi or 3G browsing, or 24 hours of 3G talk. The 8MP camera takes 1080P pictures at 60 frames per second, and can record up to 240fps for slow motion, with auto focus during video.

iphone 6 designsApple has also incorporated LTE wireless reception into the new phones, enabling download speeds of up to 150 Mbps. Voice calls over LTE (VoLTE) as well as wi-fi calling are also available, with up to 20 LTE wireless bands supported. Apple is working with T-Mobile in the US and EE in the UK to move voice data to LTE, leaving 3G less congested.

Apple Pay

iOS 8, announced at WWDC earlier this year, will be released slightly ahead of the phones, on 17 September, for iPhone 4s and up, and iPad 2 and up. However, the biggest innovation is the introduction of Apple Pay, a mobile payment solution using NFC and Apples fingerprint scanner Touch ID. Combined with the new Secure Element chip, Apple Pay finally provides iPhone users with contactless payment technology.

Apple has partnered with American Express, MasterCard and Visa, and Apple Pay will support cards from all three providers. The solution doesnt store card numbers or transaction data, instead using a unique Device Account Number that is encrypted, with each transaction authorised using a one-time code.

“Security and privacy is at the core of Apple Pay,” said Eddy cue, senior vice president of internet software and services at Apple. “When youre using Apple Pay in a store, restaurant or other merchant, cashiers will no longer see your name, credit card number or security code, helping to reduce the potential for fraud. And if your iPhone is lost or stolen, you can use Find My iPhone to quickly suspend payments from that device.”

In addition to Apple Stores, retailers who will support Apple Pay in the US include Bloomingdales, Disney Store, Macys, Staples, Walgreens, Whole Foods and McDonalds. Online shopping through apps will also support Apple Pay, as will apps such as Uber.

Apple WatchesApple Watch

Dubbed “Apples most personal device ever”, the Apple Watch has long been rumoured. With a unique UI and Digital Crown that enables navigation, the Apple Watch represents the companys first steps into the wearables market, which is set to explode over the next few years.

The Apple Watch will be released in three editions (standard, plus Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition) and two sizes (38mm and 42mm) in early 2015, with a wide variety of alloy finishes and watch straps, including a sweat-absorbent Sport Band. It requires an iPhone 5 or later in order to work to its full potential, which may dissuade some customers.

The Digital Crown enables users to scroll, zoom and navigate the small display, as well as serving as a Home button and easy way to access Siri. The display also features Force Touch, which can differentiate between taps, presses and other interactions. The smartwatch can sense when it is being raised, activating the display, and uses haptic feedback to deliver walking directions.

Apple will be releasing WatchKit, a developer kit including new tools and APIs for Apple Watch apps, and the focus is likely to be on fitness and health. The smartwatch comes with both an Activity app designed to motivate users throughout the day, and a Workout app that provides metrics during exercise. The data is shared with the Fitness app on the iPhone, and is used to suggest personal goals and reward milestones.

“With Apple Watch, weve developed multiple technologies and an entirely new user interface specifically for a device thats designed to be worn,” said Jony Ive, senior vice president of design at Apple. “It blurs the boundary between physical object and user interface. Weve created an entire range of products that enable unparalleled personalisation.”