Last week, Apple’s highly anticipated launch night took place which seen the unveiling of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple's smartwatch – Apple Watch – and Apple’s new mobile payments platform, Apple Pay.
The eighth generation of iPhone – the iPhone 6 – offers faster processes, higher resolution screens, better cameras and Apple’s aforementioned new payment system. The phone has an iPad style design with an ultra-thin body and rounded corners. The phone is available in gold, silver and space grey and comes in 16, 64 and 128GB capacities. Prices start at £539 for 16GB.
Released alongside the iPhone6, the iPhone 6 Plus, starts at £619 for 16GB. It is a bigger version of the iPhone 6 at 5.5 inch compared to the 4.7 inch iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 Plus has been billed as Apple’s entry into the increasingly popular ‘phablet’ market. Aside from its size, the ‘phablet’ has three differentiating features from the iPhone 6: optical image stabilisation for the camera; a larger battery life and an iPad style landscape mode.
In keeping with Apple’s user friendly designs, both the 6 and the 6 Plus have a ‘quick double tap’ reachability feature on the home button which pulls the top of the screen down half height. This allows users to use the phone one-handed, despite the screen sizes having increased.
Both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus are released in the UK today, Friday 19th September, 2014.
Apple’s smartwatch, the Apple Watch (not the fabled iWatch) was also unveiled at the launch night. The Apple Watch marks Apple’s entry into the wearable technology market. Compatible with an iPhone 5 and models above, the smartwatch allows wearers to make and take calls, and access their notifications and various simplified apps, such as Apple Maps for navigation. Apple’s voice control tool, Siri, is accessible on the smartwatch and the watch can control music playing on iPhone or iPad devices around it. Apps will be arranged in clusters on the display with a ‘Digital Crown’ being used to navigate across the smartwatch.
In line with other ‘smart’ products and their focus on fitness, Apple Watches are compatible with the existing iPhone Health apps. Two new apps, Fitness and Workout, track different levels of activity. Fitness tracks general activity, steps and calories burned and encourages the user to move throughout the day. Workout acts like a personal trainer, tracking activity for custom work outs and responding to the wearer’s heartrate and movement.
In terms of design, Apple’s smartwatches are split into three collections: Apple Watch, Apple Sport and the Apple Watch Edition with the first being made from a custom alloy of stainless steel. The Sport collection has anodized aluminium cases in silver or space grey and is 60 per cent stronger than the Apple Watch. The Watch Edition is made from 18k gold and has a sapphire crystal display.
Apple’s smartwatches are set for release early 2015 and are priced £217.
Apple Pay, the company’s entry into the digital payment space, is set to be launched next month in 220,000 organisations across America including McDonalds, Subway, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. It is set to arrive in the United Kingdom next year. Supporting credit cards from American Express, Mastercard and Visa, users can use Apple Pay to buy everyday purchases with a tap using their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and SmartWatch. Apple Pay can also be used with the iPhone5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s, although these devices lack the extra security of Touch ID.
It is fair to say there has been considerable reluctance surrounding mobile payment and digital wallet systems, namely surrounding users’ familiarity with traditional card payments and security concerns. However, it remains to be seen whether Apple, and their knack for thrusting existing technologies and services into the mainstream, will be the catalyst that makes digital payments commonplace.