That like-new iPhone 5s in your pocket? Obsolete. How about that smartwatch or fitness band you’ve been carting around on your wrist for the past six months? Old news. If you whip out your leather wallet and try to pay with a rectangle of plastic — at least at the corporate stores Apple works with — chances are you’ll be looked at like an old fogey.
Apple has, once again, thoroughly owned the mobile category, expanding the ways we communicate, live and transact business in our daily lives.
This domination of the smartphone, smartwatch and mobile payment categories, as revealed in today’s big iPhone 6 and Apple Watch event, has us ready to hand over another load of cash to the Apple mothership, and gladly. As usual, there were some surprises — some awesome and some not so much — but here are the main takeaways.
iPhone 6 is here and it’s huge: Apple’s new flagship smartphone will come in two sizes, huge (4.7 inch) and huger (5.5 inch). Each will boast a curved-bevel display that packs in a whopping 185 percent more pixels on the larger screen of the iPhone 6 Plus.
Photos are worth even more words: The new iPhone camera gets a new 8MP iSight camera with f/2.2 aperture and all-new sensor featuring “focus pixels,” plus phase detection autofocus, which makes it twice as fast as before. You’ll get a new selfie burst mode from the similarly equipped front camera, too, so you can keep taking those awesome pics, kids. Oh, and panoramas will now stretch out to a whopping 43 megapixels, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Quit calling it the iWatch: After months of rumors about the iWatch, we now know the truth: It’s called the Apple Watch, and it comes in three distinct lines (and six different types of interchangeable straps). With innovative hardware, an intuitive user interface and a WatchKit platform for developers to work their magic, people will be lining up next spring when the $349 wearable goes on sale.
Android Wear is now Android What?: Same goes for the Pebble smartwatch, the Fitbit and any other fitness band like Jawbone’s Up. Apple’s long-rumored wearable does pretty much all of the same things as those doomed devices, only better and connected to the iPhone in a very real way. So what if it doesn’t work with Android? This is the smartwatch you’ve been waiting for, says Apple, and it’s going to sell like proverbial hotcakes. Even that gold one.
Your credit card is a waste of space: Instead of pulling out the plastic to buy all your new Apple gear, you’ll just flash your iPhone. Or your Apple Watch, once you get that sucker neatly wrapped around your wrist. For its new mobile payments platform Apple Pay, the company struck deals with big banking institutions that control more than 80 percent of credit card purchases in the United States so you won’t ever need to swipe a card again.
Apple reveals its new crown jewel: The Digital Crown — the fancy name for the scroll-wheel on the Apple Watch that looks like a winder on a traditional timepiece — is a totally new interface that looks completely intuitive. You simply twist it to zoom into a picture or scroll through a list. It’s basically a mouse that makes the small screen on the Apple Watch much more usable. This is the kind of hardware genius at which Apple excels.
Horology is a thing: In his slightly long-winded and oh-so-restrained video spot extolling the virtues of the Apple Watch, Jony Ive went on and on about consulting with horologists in the quest to make the ultimate timepiece. Honestly, horologists? That’s an awfully fancy word for time nerds or watch experts — and it sounds like something completely different. Consider us schooled.
Things are about to get deep: Apple’s Multi-Touch interface apparently wasn’t enough for the Apple Watch. Cupertino’s UI wizards came up with a Taptic Engine that can distinguish when a user presses the watch’s flexible sapphire screen in addition to recognizing the typical touchscreen tap. Paired with the new S1 chip, this opens up a whole new world of “contextually specific controls” for the Apple Watch, according to Tim Cook. If it all didn’t look so damned intuitive, your fingers would get very confused.
Apple shoots the moon (and beyond): During one of today’s big demos onstage, Kevin Lynch, late of Adobe, showed off some of the Apple Watch’s key features with an astronomy app for the diminutive screen, using the Digital Crown to zoom to the moon and back, and even out to see the whole solar system. The astronomy watch face is just one of many that will be available for users so they can customize their Apple Watches. This is pretty stuff.
U2 is the boringest: U2 is like the Whole Foods of the rock world — super-well-known for humanist philosophies, yet somehow strangely irrelevant in our current culture, more a brand than an actual thing. They might have jived it up with Tim Cook onstage before announcing what the Apple CEO called “the largest album release of all time,” but the single the band played will fit right in at a Starbucks, no matter how many Ramones references Bono squeezed in. Paying for records? Totally obsolete.
Additional reporting by Lewis Wallace.