Apple's September 9th Event
Apple Is Back On Track
By Kia Dargahi
I love the smell of new apple products in the air, and who can blame me? Apple’s keynotes are distinctly known for getting consumers excited for its upcoming products by using eye-popping visuals, informative info-graphics, and beautiful product presentation, all of which improves over the course of time. Today was no exception; Apple has done it once again folks with new product announcements that should make every iFan giddy with joy. Apple divided their keynote into three major axes, and in order to capture the feel of the keynote, I will be replicating the split. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
iPhone 6/ iPhone 6 Plus
Yes, the phone(s) you’ve all been waiting for is (are) here ladies and gentlemen. Following its yearly routine of releases, Apple has announced the pair of new iPhones to the public, and they’re “bigger than bigger”. As expected, a 4.7 inch and a 5.5 inch iPhone have been announced called the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus respectively. But before exploring the differences between the two, let’s view the similarities.
Perhaps the main event of these handsets, both iPhones feature significantly larger displays than their predecessors, the latter of which should be qualified as a phablet. The new iPhones offer Retina HD displays but oddly with differing resolutions… Both iDevices have an upgrade camera with the same 8MP count but brand new iSight cameras. The snappers both offer 1080p 60 fps video shooting with an improved slow-mo feature as well. Moreover, there is added DSLR hardware known as focus pixels and they essentially improve focus speeds. The lenses have had the most obvious change, being bigger than ever before and protruding out of the normally thin casing. Speaking of thin casing, both have been slimmed down with the 6 at just 6.9 mm thin and the 6 plus at 7.1 mm. To put that in simpler terms, they’re the thinnest iPhones ever. Furthermore, they both feature the A8 chip with an M8 co-processor. As expected, both offer improved performance from the iPhone 5s and even include a barometer to track elevation by means of air pressure. Touch ID has, of course, made its way onto both devices as well, but this is where the similarities and the differences (whether they be good or bad) commence.
Remember that Retina HD display I was talking about earlier? Well, this comes to me as the biggest disappointment from the event. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7 inch 1334 x 750 display while the 6 Plus offers an industry standard 5.5 1920 x 1080 screen. Let’s delve into this for a moment shall we? There is no doubt that Apple’s displays have always been the sharpest in the industry and have always performed well on graphics benchmarks. In a world full of numbers games however, I am sure the iPhone 6 will be criticized for its sub 1080p screen, even though this does not correlate to poorer picture quality when compared to such a screen. Another significant difference lies in the camera. While the 6 features digital image stabilization (to counteract our shaky hands), the 6 plus features Optical Image Stabilization or OIS (to counteract our caffeine ridden hands). The difference between the two isn’t exactly night and day (photography puns) due to Apple’s advanced software, but Apple has clearly made the 6 Plus seem like a “Plus” compared to the 6, which brings us to the pricing. In an unsurprising twist of events, the iPhone 6 with 16 GB of storage starts at $199 subsidized and $649 unsubsidized while the iPhone 6 Plus with 16 GB of storage starts at $299 subsidized (like Samsung’s Galaxy Note line) but hits a sky high $749 unsubsidized price. There are one or two problems that I find with this. While the standard $99 price increments for storage space have been changed to 16-64-128, I believe that 16 GB phones with no expandable storage shouldn’t exist anymore due to the low cost of flash memory and the bigger size of media in this day and age. Furthermore, the iPhone 6 Plus should have at least adopted this ideal due to the “Plus” nature of the device. That covers most of the differences between the two devices and you may be thinking why I left a major feature out, but don’t worry it’s coming right up.
Apple dedicated approximately 1/3 of their presentation to this new payment system and there’s a good deal why. Tim Cook believes that this is the next leap forward in payment since the credit card, and believe me, it takes balls to say that. With Apple pay, NFC technology from the iPhones is used to make payments (sorry previous iPhones, no apple pay for you). By combining Touch ID and NFC, Apple has created a secure (HUGE emphasis on secure) mobile payment system that works seamlessly between the iPhones and the credit cards. Tim Cook made sure to note that Apple does not keep a record of what you purchased, where you purchased it, or for how much you purchased it (unless it’s from an Apple Store, gotcha there cook) using this system. This also translates to online purchases; Apple is preparing a one touch system for paying on select online retailers and in effect avoiding those annoying forms in which we have had to enter our names, addresses, and payment information countless times. While there are extended security measures such as a one-time payment number so that credit card information is kept secure, most of that is technological rambling anyhow, and let’s be honest, the star of the show has yet to be revealed…
There HAD to be a good reason that the Flint center, the site of the unveiling of the original iMac, was being used for today’s announcement. And there you have it. Apple entered a new product category today with the Apple Watch, “Apple’s most personal device”. It features a curved Retina display that varies from a smaller 1.7-inch display to a bigger 2.1-inch display. Apple knew that this smart watch had to stand out from the competition and as such emphasized a couple of major points.
First and foremost, the watch was characterized as precise. Tim Cook spoke of synchronization with Universal Standard Time, specialized technology to help read our heartbeats, a multi-touch display, an un-obstructive crown, and seamless connection with the iPhone in order to create the best smart watch experience. “All new Apple products required a breakthrough in UI”, and Apple certainly haven’t shirked their work here. I thought that android wear UI was as intuitive as it could get with the card interface, but in conjunction with the crown, the accessibility of the software on the apple watch feels built from the ground up and tailored to this form factor.
Second, Tim Cook made an emphasis on intimacy between not only the consumer and the device but also between one’s close ones through the device. Through a haptic feedback system by the name “Taptic”, Apple has worked haptic feedback into its first device in a move that I thought was brilliant. It never occurred to me that haptic feedback would work well on a smart watch but then again, that’s what Apple’s engineers are here for, to impress consumers with their innovative approach to device crafting. A series of custom Emoji, quick replies, and apple watch-apple watch sketches were demo’ed at the conference, demonstrating the quick wits of the device. Conclusively, the Apple watch features a security chip inside which allows for apple pay payments via the watch itself, avoiding the process of taking out one’s iPhone to do so.
In a final, but not unimportant point, Cook highlighted the customization of the apple watch. With a big emphasis on fitness for all, Cook displayed the utilities that encourage, reward, and motivate apple watch users to stay active throughout the day. In fact, there are three dedicated Apple watches, all with different specialties. The Apple Watch sport makes immediate use of the sporty form factor with sweat resistant bands and an aluminum casing to ensure that the active individual won’t view the smart watch as a hindrance but rather a personal trainer of sorts. The Apple watch edition offers premium design and materials including 18 K gold in order to appeal to a more high end market and is more of a fashion statement than anything. The third and final is the plain and simple Apple Watch, the mass market and standard issue of smart watch. As far as pricing, all we know for now is that the lowest end model starts at $349, a rather hefty price for such a device (You can buy high end android handsets NEW for that much!)
All in all, the Apple event was indeed one to remember, as the title suggests, for the company proved it had a vision for the future that was evolutionary. The new iPhone models shall no longer be critiqued for their backwards screen sizes, Touch ID won’t be dismissed as a gimmick due to the extensive mobile payment system, and Apple shall not be deemed as un-innovative by showing the intuitive steps taken with the Apple watch. And although Apple’s stock fell today, dare I say, Steve Jobs would be proud of the events that have transpired before us.