Apple's Triple Play: What You Need to Know

Category: Apple-Mac , Mobile

On September 9, 2014, Apple unveiled three new products: the iPhone 6, the long-awaited Apple Watch, and Apple Pay, the company’s foray into electronic payment systems. Let’s see how much they matter…

iPhone 6, Apple Watch and Apple Pay

The iPhone 6 comes in two models, both of which are thinner than ever and have an aluminum back. The base model, simply dubbed “iPhone 6,” has a 4.7-inch display, and the supersized "iPhone 6 Plus" has a 5.5-inch display. You shouldn’t have any trouble reading either screen.

Oh, and they're available in gold. If that's what you were waiting for, you can skip the rest of this article and get in line NOW at your nearest Apple Store. The new phones will be available September 19; pre-orders will be taken starting the 12th. The base iPhone 6 costs $199 with 16 GB; $299 with 64GB; and $399 for 128 GB. The iPhone 6 Plus is $100 more at each storage capacity tier.

Gold iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

The oleophobic (oil and smudge resistant) glass curves around the sides of both models, and is billed as shatterproof and water-resistant. We won't know for sure about that until someone drops theirs on the edge of the tub and retrieves it after a tumble into the bubbles.

The new camera features image stabilization technology for sharper selfies and nausea-free videos, 1080p video resolution at 60 frames per second, and 240 fps slow-motion mode. These are professional-grade capabilities that will enable some pretty sophisticated movie productions. Unfortunately, the iPhone 6, like all cameras, still allows videos that should be framed in landscape mode to be framed vertically. We may need legislation and harsh penalties (or at least public shaming) to fix that problem.

CNET has done a quick comparison of iPhone 6 with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8, two of the top-selling iPhone competitors. My summary: Both of the Android-based rivals have bigger screens, higher pixel density, better camera and video specs, the ability to add extra storage, and removable batteries. But neither bears the Apple logo, which is all most consumers care about.

The iPhone 6 Plus, with its 5.5-inch screen, is larger than the 5.1-inch Samsung Galaxy S5, but seems more comparable to the Galaxy Note 4, Samsung's 5.7-inch phablet. Some pundits are already worried that the Plus will erode sales of the iPad Mini. If I were Apple, I'd be more concerned about sub-$100 Android tablets.

Just Don't Call it iWatch...

The Apple Watch is a startling departure from Apple’s naming scheme, and their usual lack of variety. It comes in three “collections,” 2 sizes, and with 6 different straps, for a total of 34 styles, including solid 18 kt gold or rose gold at the high end.

The Apple Watch is a health and fitness monitor as well as a fashion statement. It is loaded with infrared LED sensors that monitor your pulse, skin temperature, and other vital signs. These measurements are fed to apps for various physical exercise activities: bicycling, running, etc. Oh, and it tells Internet-synchronized time with an accuracy of plus or minus 50 milliseconds.

An iPhone 5 or later model is required to use the Apple Watch. The watch uses the phone’s WiFi and GPS functions to work its wonders. A crown wheel on the watch’s side displays the home screen when it’s depressed. It can also zoom the display when turned. Siri acts as a user interface to the Apple Watch’s more complex functions.

Your friends are on your wrist with the Apple Watch. Just tap one of their profile pictures and start drawing a message. I did a double take on that one; handwriting email on a 38 or 42 mm watch face doesn’t seem likely.

You'll have time to save up for that rose gold Apple Watch. It will not be available until "early 2015." It will start at $349, plus an iPhone if you don’t have one already.

Your Wallet is Obsolete

Apple Pay was also introduced at the big launch. It’s a tap-and-pay wallet replacement that uses NFC (Near Field Communications) technology, which 90% of retailers have refused to implement so far. In fact, Best Buy tried NFC terminals but disabled them in 2011 because they were too expensive to maintain.

Apple Pay will be accepted by 220,000 merchants at launch; by comparison, over 9 million retailers accept Visa and Mastercard via traditional swipe terminals. Walmart, McDonald’s, Macy’s, Subway Sandwiches, Walgreens, and Whole Foods are some of the merchants who will be trying out Apple Pay. I say any competition for PayPal is a good thing.

Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Apple's Triple Play: What You Need to Know"

Posted by:

11 Sep 2014

If your phone is dead, how do you pay for gas to get home?

I'd prefer that we us a card with a chip. More secure, and doesn't need batteries!!!

Posted by:

11 Sep 2014

There is a lack of innovation in the mobile market these days.
For sure the domestic and enterprise segments of this market matter a lot to manufacturers.
But for common people there is more of the same.

Posted by:

11 Sep 2014

My experience with Google phones of all stripes is that there are bugs in whatever the current flavor of Android is for the phones to work as flawlessly as Apple phones. New models of Google/Android phones come out so fast and furious that most manufacturers don't get around to fixing bugs in the initial release of their Android flavor of the month. The consumer is stuck with that version the OS, bugs and all. Apple appears to go to great lengths to make things right and add new features to older versions of their hardware. My next phone will be an iPhone 6.

Posted by:

Mark Roy
11 Sep 2014

NFC for the transmission of financial data is a wholly bad idea. There are enough means by which motivated intruders can access financial data that it should be omnidirectionally broadcast at the POS. It takes the same effort to reach for your debit/credit card as it does to reach for your phone to make a payment. Better yet, pay in cash .. unhackable, untraceable. I know. I know. How 20th century retro is THAT!!

Posted by:

11 Sep 2014

Hi Bob, I enjoy reading most of your stories, so thanks for doing what you do. However, sometimes your anti-Apple bias irks me, like this line: "CNET has done a quick comparison of iPhone 6 with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8, two of the top-selling iPhone competitors. My summary: Both of the Android-based rivals have bigger screens, higher pixel density, better camera and video specs, the ability to add extra storage, and removable batteries. But neither bears the Apple logo, which is all most consumers care about."

I was fine with everything you said until the last clause, and appreciate your perspective and knowledge, but the snarky "which is all most consumers care about" sounds like a put-down for anyone who dares buy and use anything Apple makes.

I don't expect you to change your mind, but I don't see why you think it's necessary to insult those of us who prefer computers that don't crash on a regular basis, and who prefer all the peripherals that go with them, like my iPhone, my iPod, and my iPad. If Microsoft had a good, efficient and user-friendy OS I would consider using them when I don't have to, but until then I still prefer Apple products, and I don't like being insulted.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I do have an admitted preference for the Windows and Android platforms. But I didn't mean my comments as a put-down. What I was trying to say was that a vast majority of people who buy smartphones are not impressed by technical specs. They buy Apple because it's cool, and they wouldn't change their minds even if you could show them that a Galaxy or an M8 had a bigger screen, a better camera, a faster processor, or a user-replaceable battery.

HOWEVER... you're doing the very thing of which you accuse me. My Windows PCs don't "crash on a regular basis." They run for MONTHS at a time without a glitch. If they power-cycle, it's because of a thunderstorm. They're "efficient and user-friendy" as well. On top of all that, they're a heck of a lot less expensive.

So let's call a truce, okay? :-)

Posted by:

11 Sep 2014

Unlike Clint I did not detect any Apple bias in this article. Like Bob I have six desktops and two laptops running Win 8.1. They have never crashed in the last two years. Members of my extended family have Apple products and I'm fine with that. They are excellent devices. It's about time the Apple v Microsoft debate was put to bed.

Posted by:

11 Sep 2014

I felt the same way Clint did & was none too pleased with line about consumers only caring about the Apple logo; however, I chose to assume you didn't intend to offend & wasn't going to call you out on it. I own Apple devices because they "just work" & I like the reliability, the form factor & ease of use even if I don't care much for their control freak tendencies that put customization of my devices on lockdown or for their price point. My tablet & phone are Apple devices & worth every penny but my laptop & desktop are a Windows & I have no interest in changing to Mac. I'm not an Apple fanboy & as soon as I can get the reliability & beautiful simplicity of iOS on Samsung or HTC hardware, it's game over for my Apple loyalty!

Thanks for the informative article!

Posted by:

Al B
12 Sep 2014

One additional item to consider for the new watch, users need to be the dedicated type of user willing to plug the watch in each night to charge the watch. Perhaps charging the phone each evening means it is a "no big thing" extra task, but one to consider for a daily use watch.Nice article for a highlight review, thanks Bob.

Posted by:

Daniel Knorowski
12 Sep 2014

Regarding Clint's message on crashing computers, a spirit from 1995 wants its thoughts returned.

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