iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus
Let's start with the expected. There was such a flurry of pre-release photos, commentary and videos that this wasn't really much of a surprise. Long gone are the days when Apple's iPhone announcements were shrouded in complete secrecy.
We got what we were waiting for. The now standard annual cycle of phone updates. Larger, thinner, lighter and more powerful. No surprises there. The most visible and arguably most important of these updates is the size. Firstly there's two of them. The iPhone 6 is a larger 4.7" device and the iPhone 6 Plus 5.5". The latter of the two firmly plants itself in the "phablet" category, a popular and growing size category in between phones and the proclaimed dying tablet category. This puts Apple in even greater competition with Samsung and it's Galaxy S series. Given Samsung's meteoric success in the last three years this decision should please potential Apple customers and it's shareholders.
There were a couple of unexpected announcements. Firstly Apple have done away with the 32GB version of the phone, made the 64GB the middle option and introduced a new 128GB version at the top end. This will be a crowd pleaser. Secondly Apple made a point of stating that they want to get both iPhone's out as quickly as possible so that they can distribute to as many countries as possible. The result? Pre-orders starting three days after announcement with deliveries to be expected within two weeks (from the 19th September). Another crowd pleaser.
Thirdly and maybe most importantly is the price of the iPhone 6. The cheapest 16 GB models start at just $199. This is undoubtedly a strategic decision to counter Samsung and other cheaper Android alternatives. With it's superior product Apple could well have hit the nail on the head with this one.
Initial score - 9.5/10
If the iPhone 6 was a given, the "iWatch" was the one that was both hoped for and expected in equal measure. Samsung and others have made inroads into this virgin territory over the last 12 months. All of which have failed to deliver.
What did we get? Well we got, on the face of it, a beautiful (if not a tad bulky) looking product. Classic Jonny Ive. He's blown the competition out of the water with this one. The Apple Watch comes in different colours and with different colour and texture straps. It comes in two sizes and three versions. Apple Watch; Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition.
Yet when you dig in to the details it starts to unravel. I've been sceptical with the smart watch category since it was first mooted. Nothing to do with Samsung or Apple, Sony or Rolex. I just don't think it works. The Apple Watch hasn't redefined my view.
I was interested to see how Apple would deal with the UI. A small screen needs a different approach. Their solution was to use "force touch" and a "digital crown" (the wheel on the side of analogue watches). Not bad. The crown allows users to zoom in to and scroll selections where necessary. The force touch (exactly what it says) allows users to make an additional level of selections where appropriate. This gives scope to new features, which is clever.
The Apple Watch has some nice features. It has a Taptic engine which causes a small vibration (we have to presume) on the wrist. This is used in a number of instances, the most championed being the prompt to change direction when using the Map app. You can use the watch to control songs, volume, messages, calendar invites and more. Basically all those that are possible with a small screen. It integrates with Siri and on the evidence of third party apps demoed there could be some nice examples of use with airport check-in, health and fitness and the ability to unlock hotel door rooms. Lastly the magnetic charging facility looks good.
But then there's the gimmicks, the pointless. Drawing on the watch face to communicate (will this work with fat fingers?). Receiving someone else's heartbeat as a vibration on your wrist. The ability to change watch face. All these are fine. We'll use them once, then never again, just as I did with my old Samsung S3 features. They add no value to my busy day. But Apple seemed to place quite a lot of importance on them. Which is a concern.
A further concern, despite it also being a positive, is the integration with Siri! Despite iterative improvements Siri's still not perfect and inconsistent in it's feedback to the user. iOS8 may cure this.
The Apple iWatch requires the iPhone. But one thing that seems to have been overlooked...is that it requires the iPhone and this is where I question the purpose of a smart watch. Because despite the beauty, the occasional everyday feature (besides it telling you the time) and the 'cool' factor that'll almost certainly be bestowed upon it, it does little to appease the market it's aimed at.
I believe I represent that target market. A busy, independent, health-conscious individual who possesses an iPhone. I use my iPhone for everything. The screen is large enough for me to call, text, email, browse, snap, tweet, share, listen, watch and play on. The size of the phone is uninhibiting and will remain so whilst my clothes retain pockets. I may not be Gok Wan but I don't believe pockets are dying any time soon. And even if they did will the watch allow me to do everything I listed? No. Not without another device on my person. If I have that other device on my person I'll use that.
Oh and one more thing, it'll cost at least $349. Ouch. And it won't be out until 2015.
Initial score - 5/10
Technology is evolving. We won't all be using smartphones in 10 years time, maybe not even five. But it won't be watches. Apple are just jumping on a bandwagon they normally build. For cash.
The most exciting (and some say scary) development out there for me is Google Glass. Thanks Apple but i'll hold out for iGlass/Apple Glass/iLens/whatever.