iPhone 6 and watch launch a new era for Apple

Two new phones, a payment system and wearable tech: Apple pulled out all the stops on 9 September.

Brand fans and tech lovers have never stopped looking forward to Apple product announcements. But the past few years have seen the tech giant accused of losing some of its innovative streak, especially since the death of co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs in 2011. Yesterday’s new announcements, live-streamed online, were not necessarily aimed at the critics, but went a long way towards trying to prove them wrong.

Two new iPhones, a payments service and a smartwatch later, everyone’s talking about the new ideas at Apple. So what’s involved and where could it lead?


New iPhone models

There was always going to be a new iPhone at this launch, but chief executive Tim Cook actually unveiled two. Apple is going bigger with two wider models – the iPhone 6 will come in at 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus will feature a 5.5 inch touchscreen. They will both have narrower profiles and be heavier than previous models, and the company has gone back to the rounded case backing.

A faster processor, improved camera and new imaging and video tools will come with the new iPhones, though they will adhere to the price structure established with the iPhone 5s. There had been rumours of production issues which could have held back the launch of the new devices, but they seem to have been overcome.


Mobile payments

The tech giant is also venturing into new territory with Apple Pay, a new mobile wallet that will work with the new iPhone models and smartwatch. It will use near field communication (NFC) technology, a dedicated chip and the Touch ID capability to maintain a high level of security while supporting American express, MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards.

Mobile payments haven’t yet won over a critical mass of users, even though they have been available on other mobile devices for some time now. So it may not be much of a selling point for the new devices, but it will serve to bring Apple in step with rival mobile devices. Interestingly, it may be that making mobile wallets available to a new group of users benefits the payments industry more than Apple itself. 

Apple Watch

It may not have exactly come as a surprise – Apple has been rumoured to be working on a smartwatch for years – the first new product line to be announced since Steve Jobs’ death is likely to become a major player in the wearable tech market. Apple Watch will run apps, act as a health and fitness tracker and sync with the iPhone, but the company says its biggest innovation is the Digital Crown, which enables users to navigate the device without blocking the screen.

Apple worked with former Burberry chief Angela Ahrendts on the design, and it’s certainly an attractive device. But to many observers, it still looks like an expensive iPhone accessory. The Register points out that until the actual cost of the hardware comes down, it is unlikely to attract all but the most devoted Apple fans.

A new era for Apple?

Steve Jobs had a habit of ending product launches with the line “One more thing…” – always followed by a new development. Yesterday, Tim Cook finally brought the phrase out of retirement to loud applause, just before announcing the Apple Watch.

To many Apple fans, that represents a new era for the firm under Mr Cook’s leadership – finally, it suggests, the company is moving forward into a new age of innovation.

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