And then Tim Cook said “and one more thing” reviving a tradition we haven’t seen since Steve Jobs was still CEO of Apple. After the launch of the new iPhone6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as anticipated with larger screens of 4.7in/12cm and 5.5in/14 cm respectively, this old phrase was used to introduce the first new Apple product since the iPad in 2010.
After years of holding out, Apple appears to be more determined than ever to match the large screen success of Android handsets. The iPhone 6 and Plus are the usual luxurious, wonderful device that returns to the curved edges of the early iPhones and puts the on-off button (as expected) on the side. The back is a curvaceous anodised aluminium case. In Apple’s own words (sure to make the haters gag), it is a “remarkable, simplified design. There are no distinct edges. No gaps. Just a smooth, seamless bond of metal and glass that feels like one continuous surface”.
The Retina HD display promises more screen quality (with resolutions of 1334×750 and 1920×1080), and the phones are very thin (6.9mm and 7.1mm respectively).
The new camera promises to record 1080p HD at 60 fps and slo-mo at 240 fps; while the 1.2MP front facing camera has the same f2.2 aperture as the 8MP rear camera, and Apple has promised that 81% more light is captured. This is meant to improve FaceTime, which is one of my favourite ways to stay in touch with my family back home when I travel.
But it was the return of Jobs’ famous catchphrase to announce the new product that had everybody captivated and excited.
The Apple Watch (not iWatch, in what is being discussed as a way to define the post-Jobs era) is a glossy, slick accessory for your wrist that obviously enhances the user experience.
But more than just a notifications to distract you, that Apple Watch is an attempt to breach the wearables market. Dominated by previously up known brands like Fitbit, Jawbone, Withings and even Nike’s Fuel Band, this Masontown category of so-called wearables is an attempt to get technology into our lives for way for monitoring our activity and health.
Apple has already announced the health functionality of its new iOS operating system, and Apple Watch reads your heart rate and other metrics using cameras and sensors under the watch.
The new Visa-backed payment system, called Apple Pay, could be a big game changer – given how Apples ease-of-use and marketing seems to popularise new technologies, even if NFC (for near-field communication) has been available on Android phones for years. (Sony’s implementation for transferring music to NFC speakers remains one of the most effective uses I’ve seen.)
As my friend Aki Anastasiou, who is here with me in San Franscisco, remarked: “Apple has taken existing technologies and added the wow to it”.
U2 ended off the event by playing from this album and capping yet another Apple extravaganza. Then Apple announced “a big moment in music history. And you’re part of it” by giving away rock band U2‘s new album Songs of Innocence “to over 500 million iTunes customers worldwide. Never before have so many people owned one album, let alone on the day of its release.”
Let the loving (or hating) begin.
Toby Shapshak (@shapshak for the 12 people are aren’t following him in Twitter) is in San Francisco at the moment bathing in the tech announcements there.