In typical Apple style, the September 9 keynote was all about grandeur. The tech giant announced its three new gadgets: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and, moving away from the iBlank moniker, Apple Watch. These releases have been highly anticipated for months now, and though Apple’s announcements were big, they are nowhere near groundbreaking. Here’s why:
iPhone 6 and 6+ are Apple’s way of playing catch-up with the mega-popular phablet trend.
In fact, it’s a wonder that Apple is still considered so ahead-of-the-times, considering they’re only now releasing phablet-comparable phones and still don’t have touch screen devices larger than the iPad. Yes, the camera on the 6 and 6+ is great and the screen resolutions promise great user experience, but when you really look at the specs you see that the iPhone 6 and 6+ are, in effect, bigger iPhone 5’s.
The big takeaways are:
- Apple has finally introduced NFC (Near-Field Communication) to their phones
- Apple Pay replaces your wallet and allows you to pay with a tap or a touch
- Added barometer sensor can track your altitude, making fitness tracking easier (stair climbs, hilly runs, etc)
- Seamless-transition voice over LTE (VoLTE) allows you to make regular calls over wifi when available, and transition your call seamlessly to cellular when you move out of range
- Dramatically increased battery life in the 6+ compared to the 5 level series, and marginally increased battery life in the iPhone 6
- “Improved” processors, though it is unclear at this time how exactly they have been improved
Aside from those, there aren’t many differences, and the iPhone 6 and 6+ are a well-disguised “you were right” from Apple to the makers of existing phablets. Don’t believe me? Check out this awesome article from Mashable comparing the iPhone 6 Plus to its top phablet competitors.
Apple Watch was released to deter people from adopting Android Wear.
The watch will not be available until a yet-undisclosed 2015 date, and some of the most important specs went entirely unacknowledged during the keynote: battery life and durability, two of the biggest buying factors, were omitted (but they sure made a big deal of the emojis and the Mickey Mouse watch face!). So if the watch is not ready to ship, what warrants this announcement at this time? The desire to give Apple fanboys something to wait for while much less expensive Android watches like the Moto 360 (priced at $249, compared to Apple Watch’s $349) start taking their places on thousands of wrists around the world.
That said, Apple Watch does look like it will be one of the better wearables once it comes to market, with vast customizability and, as always, impeccably beautiful design both on the OS and hardware. With Siri integration, Apple Pay usability and a strong emphasis on fitness, Apple Watch has the potential to take a dominant place in the wearables market. The biggest downside, aside from no left-handed version available (at least not appearing in the keynote or press as of the time I write this post), is that ONLY users of the newer Apple ecosystem will be able to use the watch, as it must be connected to an iPhone (5 or later) in order to function. Finally, it is worth mentioning the name, “Watch,” which plainly attempts to encompass the entire smart watch market by snagging the fundamental word for multipurpose-wrist-worn-device. As reflected in the twittersphere, people are still calling it the iWatch anyways.
In short, the problem with Apple’s new products is they feel on-trend, not futuristic.
Many of the features we see implemented in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been present in competing brands’ devices for years, and the Apple Watch feels like a rushed attempt on Apple’s part to reserve a portion of the smartwatch market before Android gains monopoly. Coupled with extreme technical difficulties with the live stream and a new album release by U2, today’s 2014 Apple keynote would have fallen on more starstruck eyes if it had taken place about five years ago.