Yesterday’s Apple event at the Flint Centre, Cupertino, CA was in Apple’s CEO Tim Cook’s words “an important day in Apple’s history”. Considering the fact that this location was where Steve Jobs introduced The Macintosh in 1984 and later the iMac in 1998. Both products changed the desktop computing landscape and it was no doubt Apple was up to something.
In an event that we live-streamed from here in Kampala, Apple made a bold statement by announcing two product and service categories in one day — wearables and mobile payments — that set the company in a new post-Steve Jobs era. Yesterday’s announcements show that Apple now sees itself as a fashion and financial player. Recode’s Walt Mossberg is qouted saying put it “Tim Cook’s Apple appears headed to some different street corners — the intersections of technology and fashion, and technology and banking.”.
The one thing that’s evident from yesterday’s event is that Apple is definitely playing catch-up — something that it has in previous years excelled at much to its advantage. The company has historically watched other players introduce new products to the market, learning from their mistakes before overrunning the market with their own products and services. Several vendors for instance have already introduced their smart watches months or years before Apple did yesterday and the same goes for the Phablet form-factor.
But will Apple’s new products re-invent the industry as it previously did? Lets see what Apple introduced yesterday;
The “Apple Watch” and not the “iWatch” as we thought was perhaps the most anticipated product announcement yesterday. It marks the first product category from Apple since the iPad in 2010.
The Apple Watch comes with Infrared and visible-light LEDs, along with photosensors that detect your pulse rate. Apple Watch is built from custom alloys of stainless steel, aluminum, and 18-karat gold. Center to this iconic device is what Apple calls the Digital crown — “a versatile tool that answers the fundamental challenge of how to magnify content on a small display.”. With the Digital Crown, you can scroll through lists and messages, and make selections all without obstructing the screen.
According to Apple’s senior designer Jonathan Ive, “The display also senses force, quite literally adding a new dimension to the user interface.”. The Apple watch will compete against early entrants such as the Pebble Smartwatch, Sony Smartwatch 2 SW2, Samsung Gear S, Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch, Motorola’s Moto 360 and several others .
The device will host Leather, metal and plastic bands unfortunately it won’t be available until early next year for a cool $349.
The second service category that industry watchers hope Apple will disrupt is mobile Payments.”If anyone has a chance to make wireless payments a Thing, it’s Apple. It’s persuading stores AND online companies to accept ApplePay.” — David Pogue a technology columnist for Yahoo Tech commented. According to Apple their vision is to replace the wallet and the starting point is payments.“We’ve placed a lot of energy into creating an entirely new payments solution.” Tim Cook said.
Apple Pay will enable users to pay with the simple touch of their finger using Touch ID on their iPhones. NFC technology on the new phones, a standard that Apple had notoriously avoided for years, the security of Touch ID, the privacy of the Secure Element and the convenience of Passbook app will power these mobile payments. “Apple Pay is easy, secure, and private” Eddy Cue Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services said about the new service.
“Credit and debit cards have exposed account numbers, outdated magstripes, and vulnerable security codes. ” Tim Cook said commenting on the decade-old payment systems that the company seeks to disrupt. With Apple Pay, when you add a card to Passbook, its number is never stored or shared on your device or Apple servers. Apple claims it doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. Cashiers also won’t see your name, your card number, or your security code. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique number. As a security measure, If you lost your iPhone, you won’t have to cancel cards. Instead, you will simply use “Find My iPhone” feature to suspend payments just for that device.
Apple Pay will work with the three major payment networks: American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. The service is coming with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the Apple Watch and will be available in the U.S. in October 2014 with 220,000 merchants but work is underway to take it worldwide in the near future. Of course we are skeptical of the possibility of such a service ever working in Africa where USSD-based mobile payments powered by the Telecoms are more versatile than alien credit cards.
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus
Finally, Apple’s release of the iPhone 6 and the 6 plus is a clear indication that the device marker is playing catch-up with the rest of the industry. What’s immediately striking about the new devices is the increased screen sizes, 4.7 and 5.5 inches for the 6 and 6 plus respectively. This shows that Apple has finally bowed down to increased pressure from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, Microsoft that already have devices with those screen options.
Both iPhone 6 models feature a new Retina HD display with displays having the full sRGB wide color gamut. iPhone 6 Plus has a resolution of 1920 by 1080 with 401 pixels per inch which is full 1080p HD resolution. The iPhone 6 is merely 6.9 mm making it much thinner than its predecessor whereas the iPhone 6 Plus is just a smudge more at 7.1 mm.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are powered by the Apple-designed A8 chip. Apple claims the the A8 chip has up to 25% faster processing power and up to 50% faster graphics with performance supposedly 50 times faster than the original iPhone. Graphics are an incredible 84 times faster than the original iPhone, a spec that will enable users play games in higher resolution than next generation consoles according to Apple. The devices will also spot an M8 coprocessor that continuously measures motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass and a barometer that senses air pressure to measure relative elevation.
iPhone 6 now supports Voice over LTE with over 200 LTE carriers around the world including all three in China. For the photo enthusiasts, the iPhone 6 has an 8MP iSight camera, 1.5µ pixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture and an all-new sensor. This will bring faster auto-focus, next-generation local tone mapping, slo-mo video at 120 fps or 240 fps. and advanced noise reduction according to Apple.
iPhone 6 starts at $199 with the 6 plus at $299 with a two-year contract in the US. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available September 19th in 9 countries including US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and more coming. If you live in Uganda, Orange Uganda will surely bring you the iPhone 6.
In other news: RIP iPod classic
The original iPod music player that debuted 13 years ago, in October 2001 will be silently phased out according to Cnet. When Apple’s online store came back online this afternoon at around 12:00 p.m. PT, the iPod classic — the company’s last touchscreen-less music player that first debuted in 2007 — was gone the Tech website reports. Users are increasingly using their iPhones as iPods and to stream music online instead of downloading and listening.
All Images: Apple