Apple introduces larger iPhone 6 and smartwatch

Apple announced on Tuesday two new iPhones 6, a digital smart watch and a new version of the company’s mobile operating system, iOS 8. Apple CEO Tim Cook dispensed with the usual rundown of Apple statistics, saying he had a lot to cover as he took the stage. After declaring, “everything is great,” he introduced the company’s highly anticipated larger phones. The two models are the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.

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Along with larger iPhones, Apple unveiled a smartwatch, marking its first major entry in a new product category since the iPad’s debut in 2010.

The touch-screen Apple Watch will be available in two sizes and will only work when paired with an iPhone.

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It will allow users to answer calls, check the weather, look up directions and tell the time. It is also outfitted with a variety of sensors that can track the user’s heart rate and monitor arm motions.

Apple is turning to the past as it lays out its future. The company is holding the event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, the same venue where Jobs unveiled the industry-shifting Mac computer 25 years ago. The Cupertino, Calif., venue is near Apple’s headquarters.

As for the iPhones, which still represent the main source of Apple’s profits, larger models should help the company compete with Android devices.

Here’s what’s coming out of Tuesday’s event:

Larger iPhones

Now, Apple is increasing that. The iPhone 6 will have a 4.7-inch screen, while the iPhone 6 Plus will be 5.5 inches. The screen resolution on the Plus version will be sharper than previous iPhones, at 401 pixels per inch rather than 326.

Apple is taking advantage of the larger screen by offering a horizontal view of the home screen. Usually, icons are stacked vertically.

The new phones aren’t as big as Samsung’s latest flagship phones — 5.1 inches for the Galaxy S5 and 5.7 inches for the Note 4 — but they will be large enough to neutralize a key advantage Samsung and other Android manufacturers have had.

Notably, Samsung’s Note phone isn’t getting bigger this year. Last year’s Note 3 was 5.7 inches. Instead, Samsung is emphasizing other hardware features, such as a sharper screen. It’s also releasing a model with a curved edge to display weather, time and other information on the side of the phone.

The new phones will also include an improved camera, which the company said will help users take better panoramic and low-light photos.

Like the iPhone 5, the 16-gigabyte version of the iPhone 6 will cost $199. The 64-gigabyte model will cost $299, while the 128-gigabyte model will cost $399.

Previous versions of the iPhone will be available for a reduced price — the iPhone 5s will cost $99 and the iPhone 5c will be free on a two-year contract.

New software

Though much of the attention has been on new gadgets, the software powering those gadgets is getting its annual refresh. Apple considers iOS 8 to be its biggest update since the introduction of the app store in 2008.

Existing iPhone and iPad users will be eligible for the free upgrade, too. Apple takes pride in pushing existing customers to the latest software, allowing app developers to incorporate new features without worrying about abandoning existing users. With Android, many recent phones can’t be upgraded right away because of restrictions placed by manufacturers and wireless carriers.

A new feature will allow users to pay for purchases in-store with their phones, using the built-in near field communication chip — a feature already available on many Android phones.

Among other things, iOS 8 will let devices work better in sync. For instance, it’ll be possible to start a message on an iPhone and finish it on an iPad. With an upcoming Mac upgrade called Yosemite, it’ll be possible to continue working on that same message on a Mac computer as well.

The new iOS software will also let people do more things without jumping from app to app. For example, if a text message comes in as you’re composing an email, you’ll be able to pull down the text from the top edge and send a reply, all without leaving the email app.

A new keyboard aims to predict what you’re about to type, going beyond standard spell-checking. You can install keyboards from outside parties, too, something Android already allows.

In fact, Apple is opening up more of its features to outside developers than in the past. The fingerprint sensor on iPhones won’t be restricted to Apple’s own services, for instance.

Home and health

Apple is rolling out the HomeKit and HealthKit systems. The idea is to turn Apple’s products into a suite of digital servants that do everything from monitoring a person’s eating habits and exercise routines to turning on the coffee maker in the morning.

Again, Apple isn’t first in offering home and health monitoring systems. But consumers haven’t rushed to buy those systems partly because products from various manufacturers don’t always work with one another. With HomeKit and HealthKit, Apple is seeking to create some unity — with Apple’s devices serving as a hub.

Source : www.thestar.com

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