Apple Launch Event

Apple iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

Apple iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

Assuming that you are not a tech geek / happened to be passing the Flint Centre in Cupertino California, then you may be wondering what happened at the Apple Launch Event on 9th September.

Well, you essentially missed three things – two new iPhones and the ‘one more thing’, the Apple Watch.

New iPhone 6:

Tim Cook unveiled two new iPhones at the launch event.  The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.  Rather than just an update of software or a couple of new features, this is a significant change for the iPhone.  As with the move from the iPhone 4 to 5, the iPhone 6 will be larger than the 5.  The iPhone 5 screen is 4 inches, but the iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches.  The iPhone 6 Plus has a screen size of 5.5 inches, which puts it in the same ballpark as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the LG G3.

The iPhone 6 will boast an increased number of pixels for better text clarity, and a better autofocus on the camera, which as an iPhone 5 user I think is long overdue.  There are also advances in storing your payment info on your phone, imaginatively called Apple Pay, and accessing it via fingerprint and near-field communication (NFC), technology which has yet to gain widespread support in the financial world.

While this sort of innovation is new for Apple, it is not new for the marketplace or smart phone users.  Samsung has long had the approach that bigger is best even to the point of merging the worlds of the phone and tablet with the Galaxy Note 3 ‘Phablet’.  So, Apple could be accused of following the market on one hand, and amending its product offering by responding to changing consumer needs on the other – depends if you are a fan of Apple or not, but it is a bold move to dump the 4 inch size when it has been so popular.

New Apple Watch:

The Apple Watch (no, not the iWatch) is perhaps the worst kept secret in tech.  Apple are positioning this as a health and fitness extension of the iPhone.  You will be able to track your progress by GPS and Wi-Fi, but you will need an iPhone 6 to make the watch work, which will make it a big investment at least initially.

The Apple Watch claims to be accurate to 0.05 secs wherever you are on the planet, and will enable you to access a number of phone features on the device – Siri (for smart messaging), music, speaker, etc.  The Apple Watch is available in two sizes (38mm and 42mm height), and has a range of faces that users can choose, and a choice of six interchangeable straps – Apple boast that there are 2 million ways to see time on the Apple Watch.

Like the iPhone 6, the technology is new for Apple, but not new for users or the market.  Samsung released the Gear smartwatch over a year ago, and Google’s wearable technology is already available in the UK with Google Glass.

Summary:

So, while there is always a lot of excitement about the launch of new Apple products, and I am sure that there will be the traditional queues outside Apple Stores on the day of launch, there were no great surprises – larger phones are one of the reasons why Samsung is so successful, and wearable technology is already with us.  There is no doubt that these products will sell well, but the wow factor that accompanied earlier launches just wasn’t there – has Apple turned from market leader to market follower?

iOS7

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ios7-hand-100041902-large

If you have a relatively modern Apple iPad, iPhone or iPod, then you have probably already been given the option to download iOS7.  So, it’s time to back up everything important to you (just in case!) and see how iOS7 will change your mobile experience.

iOS7 has been called the “biggest change to iOS since the iPhone”.  OK, so that was said by Apple CEO Tim Cook, but just by looking at the visuals will show that this is a fairly dramatic upgrade.  But this comes with danger.  Mobile devices are so integrated into people’s lives that it is tough to make changes to an operating system which are significant enough to be exciting, but not so significant that the device feels unfamiliar to the user.

iOS7 will bring a new, flatter and more colourful ‘look and feel’ to devices, with a design that fills up the screen better than iOS6.  Presumably this is in response to users downloading more and more apps, as well as some envious looks over the shoulder at our friends’ Androids.

Siri is receiving an upgrade.  You will be able to choose a male or female voice, and there are some enhancements to the voice recognition.  I have never had a problem with Siri (with a London accent), but the recognition should enable more people to use a very cool service – iOS7 meand Siri is available in French and German.

iTunes Radio sounds very cool with 200 radio stations that you can listen to for free, but this is not expected in Europe for a couple of months.  It is being released in the US this week.

One of the most significant usability changes is the Control Centre.  This will allow you to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to show some common settings, which is a positive move.  One of the features at the Control Centre is a torch, and while there are a number of free flashlight downloads which seem to do that job, easy access from the Control Centre may make finding the keyhole a little easier after a long night at the pub!

Also, notifications are available at the lock screen, which is useful, particularly if you are a social networker or social gamer.

I have a weakness for new gadgets, and I think that this will satisfy my appetite for something new to play with on my iPhone 5.  Given the mixed reactions to the 5S and 5C, are major software updates a way for handset manufacturers to keep a sense of excitement around their devices?