Belfast Telegraph

Apple Watch clocks in beside iPhone 6


The launch of the new Apple Watch and the latest iPhones was unofficially billed as the biggest presentation from the company in years.

It was probably the first to really be part of Tim Cook and co’s roadmap rather than products left over from the previous CEO, Steve Jobs.

If he was tense, he didn’t show it. Strolling on stage in dark blue shirt and jeans, he seemed the same focused, laid-back presenter of previous years. He may not have the hypnotic charisma of the late Mr Jobs, but he was passionate and straight-talking. And as the day went on, he grew increasingly excited.

A great product, Mr Cook said, “depends on how it makes you feel”, as he revealed the company’s latest gadget, the Apple Watch.

“I am so excited and I am so proud to share it with you this morning,” he said. “Apple Watch is most personal device we’ve ever created.”

This is unashamedly a fashion gizmo, designed with gleaming styling and high-end materials. Its square-with-rounded-corners display is familiar to Apple products and the screen is bright and pin-sharp. It works as a fitness tracker, message notifier, navigation device and more. The watch can vibrate to give feedback to its wearer and can even be used to send the wearer’s heartbeat to another person. Tells the time, too.

Other smart watches have been geeky and unattractive but Apple has aimed for beauty first, tech second. Unlike previous gadgets it comes in multiple looks using six straps in different materials to coloured metal finishes.

The side-mounted crown — which Cook compared to the invention of the mouse — is used to zoom screen images in and out, scroll through lists and more while rear sensors provide pulse measurement and inductive charging.

It aims to make wearable technology mainstream where rival gizmos have failed. Will the Apple Watch succeed?

Personal taste, usability and above all battery life will be key. It’s more premium than its rivals and like some other smart watches, it only works with a smartphone (an iPhone, as you might have guessed). It will cost from $349 (about £215), but it’s not out until next year.

As predicted, the iPhone 6 looks like a small iPad, with a curved back and thinner profile. It has a bigger screen than previous iPhones with a 4.7-inch display. One of the main reasons an iPhone user might envy Android has been that handsets from Sony, Samsung and HTC have boasted much bigger displays.

Now Apple has a big-screen model, with an even bigger one called the iPhone 6 Plus (it has a 5.5-inch display). Some apps work differently on the larger screen, reformatting to improve usability. Since bigger screen phones are especially popular in markets like China, Apple will hope to do well there.

The new iPhone 6 is remarkably slim – just 6.9mm thick for the smaller model, 7.1mm for the bigger. In the hand the iPhone 6 feels preposterously slim and light – both of which will matter if you have smaller hands.

The new processor, Apple claims, will give better battery life, something Apple users have been crying out for. The new phones go on sale on 19 September.

Apple hasn’t increased the pixel count on the iPhone 6 camera, and it lacks the 4K video recording of rivals. It’s still tremendous-looking but arguably not cutting edge.

Next up was Apple Pay Near Field Communications technology to stored like a contactless credit card. In demonstrations it was fast and painless, making it likely we’ll buy a lot more lattes. You can add your credit card to the PassBook application and uses the phone while your card stays in your pocket.

The card details are kept in a new “Secure Element” which keeps the card safe. Lose the phone and you can turn off the feature remotely, so you don’t have to cancel your credit card. This feature is US only for now.

Apple’s announcements, the company hopes, will push it ahead of rivals again – it’s certainly the company’s most innovative product list yet. If the watch and phone can work seamlessly together as Apple says they will, and catch public desire as the iPad did, it will be a successful start to what Cook called “the next chapter in Apple’s Story”.

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