A Huge Day for Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage and greeted the audience with his usual enthusiastic, breathless demeanor.  I do a pretty fair impression of him.  Really.  Ask me sometime.  ANYWAY, I normally don’t pay much attention to the first 10 minutes of the Keynote because this is the time when Mr. Cook gives the audience an update on Apple’s numbers, which, honestly, most consumers really don’t care about.  However, this time, he dispensed with all that and simply said, “Everything’s great.”  A brilliant move on his part as he had only two hours and three new products and services to explain.  He wasted no time and dove right into the first one…

    • 6.9mm and 7.1mm thick respectively
    • Thinnest iPhones ever made
    • Screen sizes of 4.7″ and 5.5″ respectively
    • Screen resolutions of 1334×750 and 1920×1080 respectively
    • Screen contains 1 Million pixels and 2 Million pixels respectively
    • Higher contrast, darker blacks, and broader angular view
    • The iPhone 6 Plus uses a new “2 up” display when used in landscape mode (similar to an iPad) as well as an advanced keyboard and new horizontal home screen layout.
    • As app developers had no idea of the new sizes of the device, Apple has implemented advanced scaling technology that will automatically scale all existing apps to fill the entire screen.  Developers will be able to take advantage of a new Software Development Kit (SDK) to enable them to make their apps do what Mr. Cook called  “extra work” on the new iPhones.
    • Next generation A8 64 bit processing chip
    • UP to 25% faster CPU performance and up to 50% faster graphics performance than the iPhone 5S
    • A companion M8 motion coprocessor will be very helpful for the new fitness applications and can tell whether you’re walking, running, or cycling.  It can also tell when you’re climbing stairs through the use of an onboard barometer to measure air pressure and elevation.
    • LTE will be faster than ever resulting in clearer calls
    • VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) takes a voice call off of a 3G network and puts it on 4G LTE and provides simultaneous voice and data. Something that was not previously available on all carriers.
    • Calls can be made over WiFi using standard cellular connection in the event of poor signal coverage.  Calls will hand off between WiFi and cellular to keep calls active as you move from place to place.
    • T-Mobile will be the first US carrier to implement this new technology
    • 8 MegaPixels (Yes, STILL 8 MP)
    • True Tone Flash
    • All new sensors
    • A new feature called Focus Pixels uses dedicated pairs of pixels that do nothing but what is called Phase Detection Auto Focus as done in DSLR cameras.
    • Vastly improved exposure, sharpness, noise reduction and tone matching
    • A dedicated hardware block improves face detection, blink and smile detection
    • The iPhone 6 Plus also has Optical Image Stabilization
    • 1080p at 30fps and 60fps video
    • Slow motion video can now be shot at up to 240fps
    • Automatic cinematic video stabilization
    • Advanced time-lapse
    • New FaceTime HD camera has improved face detection and 80% more light and now features a burst mode
    • All cameras now have Single shot HDR so that multiple shots are not necessary to achieve HDR
    • Both iPhones ship with iOS 8
    • New cases will be available in silicone and leather in a vast array of colors
    • Both iPhones come in Black, Space Gray and Gold
  • THE PRICE  (All pricing requires 2 year carrier contract):
    • iPhone 6
      • 16 GB – $199
      • 64 GB – $299
      • NEW 128 GB – $399
    • iPhone 6 Plus
      • 16 GB – $299
      • 64 GB – $399
      • NEW 128 GB – $499
    • Both iPhones will begin shipping on September 19th
    • Pre-orders will begin on September 12th

IN MY OPINION:  I have been waiting for Apple to make improvements of this magnitude to the iPhone.  I was extremely disappointed in the iPhone 5S and couldn’t understand why they didn’t just release the iPhone 5C when they released the iPhone 5.  This is most definitely a huge upgrade rather than simply another iteration of the same iPhone.  I’m slightly disappointed that the camera is STILL 8MP.  However, MegaPixels aren’t the only determining factor in picture quality so if the pictures and video on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are anything like they were in the Keynote, I think everyone will be pleased.  I love how they brought back some curvature to the body which has been missing since the iPhone 4.  I’m a little bummed about the fact that there is no white iPhone this time around as I was ready to break my habit of buying black iPhones and switch to white.

I’m definitely going to pick up an iPhone 6 Plus.  I’m still deciding on the memory.  I’d really like the 128 GB version so I can replace my iPhone and iPod Classic all in one shot.  However, both docking stations that I have use the old-style charging plugs.  I don’t want to buy new docks and I haven’t been able to find an adapter I like.  If you know of one, please leave a comment.  In the absence of the right adapter, I’ll most likely go with the 64 GB version.  Space Gray, please.  :)

For more detailed information about the new iPhones, check out Apple’s iPhone page.

iOS 8 will be available as a FREE download on September 17th.  It will work on devices as far back as the iPhone 4S.  For information on iOS 8, check out Apple’s iOS 8 page.

It is estimated that over $12 Billion in credit and debit transactions are done each day over 200 Million separate transactions.  The magnetic strip technology on the back of a credit card is 50 years old.  It’s time to evolve.  Tim Cook basically called out all other companies that have attempted a “digital wallet” solution and have failed or just not gotten adoption saying that they focus on themselves and not the user.  “We love this kind of problem.”  Mr. Cook said.  He’s right.  Apple has been known for focusing on the user experience rather than their own.

  • ApplePay is built into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • It will automatically import the saved credit card information from a user’s iTunes account
  • Adding a credit card is as simple as taking a picture of it
  • All saved credit cards are viewable in PassBook
  • Apple DOES NOT store credit card numbers. Rather, it uses an onboard chip called the Secure Element to create a device-only account number and the number changes after each payment made along with a security code.  So there is no need to cancel cards in the event the iPhone is lost or stolen. You can just suspend payment functionality through Find My iPhone.
  • Other than your iTunes or Apple product/service purchases, Apple collects no data on the use of your credit cards at all.
  • No credit card information is transmitted to the retailer.  This is especially interesting in light of security breaches we’ve heard about where retailer credit card databases are stolen or compromised.  As the aforementioned device-only account numbers change after each payment, any data stolen would be useless.
  • At launch, ApplePay will work with MasterCard, Visa and American Express cards issued through the top 20 banks in the US.
  • Merchants such as Macy’s/Bloomingdales, Walgreen’s/Duane Reade, Staples, Subway, McDonald’s, Disney (stores and theme parks) and of course Apple Stores, will be the first retailers to implement ApplePay.
  • ApplePay will also enable one-touch checkout through Touch ID for online purchases made on the iPhone.
  • Target, Groupon, Uber, Panera Bread, Major League Baseball, and the Apple Store App, will be the first online retailers to implement ApplePay.
  • Open Table will also implement ApplePay to actually be able to pay the check at participating restaurants.
  • ApplePay will roll out as a free update to iOS 8 in October, 2014

IN MY OPINION:  As with all Apple products and services, the interface looks gorgeous and easy.  If brick & mortar and online retailers adopt ApplePay, it could absolutely revolutionize the way we pay for things as well as finally give us a secure digital wallet.  I’ll definitely use it.

Three simple words brought the audience to their feet, “One more thing…”  Tim Cook hit the magic button that rolled the introductory video of Apple’s first brand new product since Steve Jobs’ death.  The AppleWatch.

Available in two sizes with a variety of watch band and metallic constructions choices, this watch may actually look good enough to wear every day.

The AppleWatch was explained very well, both as an extension of the iPhone and a fitness device,  in a few videos.  So rather than deconstruct them here, I’ll simply refer you to Apple’s Watch page.  However, here are some of the highlights.

  • UTS (Universal Time Standard) synchronized to within plus or minus 50 milliseconds
  • The face is fully customizable
  • While the AppleWatch does have a very intuitive touch screen, the dial or “crown” of the watch is used for navigation to decrease the amount of obstruction typical hand gestures would cause on such a small surface.
  • Notifications for things such as text messages, e-mails, calendar invitations, etc. are extremely intuitive.  It even goes as far as analyzing the contents of a text message and creates quick reply buttons to make relying faster and easier.  Dictation and emoji replies are also available.
  • Pictures that you “favorite” on your iPhone will automatically appear on the AppleWatch
  • Has Siri
  • Uses Haptic feedback for notifications as well as for touch and “force touch” or pressing of the screen.  What’s really amazing about the way they implemented this is with Maps.  When you use Maps on the AppleWatch for walking directions, the Haptic feedback will be different for left and right turns so you don’t have to keep looking at the watch to know where to turn next.  Brilliant!
  • ApplePay will work on the AppleWatch
  • Pricing starts at $349
  • Will be available in early 2015

IN MY OPINION:  While the AppleWatch looks gorgeous, I’m not entirely sure, until I can get my hands on one, how necessary it is.  Presenting the functionality of it on a 50 foot screen is deceiving since it’s going to look a whole lot smaller when it’s on your wrist.  I’m not knocking it, just keeping things in perspective, literally.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the idea.  I’ll update this article once I have the chance to check one out.  I will say however, that with a starting price of $349, I’m unlikely to buy one.  For that price, I don’t need additional connectivity to my iPhone, which is usually in my pocket, that badly.

At the end of the Keynote, U2, the first group Apple partnered with for the introduction of the iPod, performed.

In what is being called the single biggest album release in history, U2’s new album “Songs of Innocence” was released at the end of the Keynote to all iTunes customers in 119 countries .  The album will be available for FREE until mid October.

A completely new set of iPhones, a secure, easy to use digital wallet, a brand new product that, while it has yet to prove itself, looks promising, and a FREE album for every iTunes customer from one of the biggest bands in music history.  Definitely not a bad day for Apple and its customers.

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