Apple launch: U2, Scarf Man and iPhone 6

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How times have changed. Once, there was a day when U2 fans would have clamoured for a free copy of their album, and subsequently the same band's manager was staunchly against the free music downloads.

Now, a large corporation has aggravated its customer base by putting the album in their iTunes for free.

In fact, the backlash was so bad that Apple has even set up a dedicated help section, telling users how to get rid of the 'Songs of Innocence'.

But I digress.

No, the most important thing at the Apple launch was not the U2 freebie, or the mesmerising and iconic Scarf Guy

It had four other tricks up its sleeve, slightly more impressive. And not in the order you might think. 

Firstly, the most innovative release (in my eyes) was its Apple Pay. This is essentially a payment technology built into Apple devices with "unique" security features that allows you to choose which card to pay with from your phone.

Given the Near Field Communication antenna in the iPhone 6 - more on that later - all you have to do is wave your phone close to a contactless reader on a payment machine in a store. Et voilà. Paid for, just like that. 

It makes paying for things within apps easier too. The touch ID sensor only needs a touch of your finger to purchase anything.

Of course, you do need to buy things from a store that accepts Apple pay, but we guess it'll only increase as people start to use it more widely. Given the number of Apple users, this can only increase, and be replicated by Android and other technologies, one may speculate. 

The next biggest release for me was the announcement of iOS8

Only relevant to those with iPhones but interesting to techies everywhere, it finally gives more power (or so it purports) to app developers. 

Some of the new features are pretty mediocre, I'll admit. Their messaging app replicates the existing WhatsApp model (adding your voice to messages, sending videos and location sharing). But a handy element is 'family sharing' which allows up to six people in a household to share apps purchased, so you don't have to keep buying the pesky things for each device. 

It appears to be taking a closer look at health, a tie-in with the rise in wearable technology, and their own Watch, perhaps. The new update includes a health tracker, heart rate monitor and dashboard. 

Speaking of the Watch, of course Samsung has done it all before. But Apple is winning the fanboys/girls over again with its aluminium, slick finish compared to Samsung's plastic feel, its retina display, custom operating system and seamless (?) compatibility with the iPhone. 

Basically, it looks prettier, is faster and you're more likely to wear it to a business meeting. All the while feeling like a bit of a sell-out.

Although how long the charge will last is always a big concern with Apple products. You don't really want it cutting out on you mid-way through a 10-mile run.

Quite surprisingly the most underwhelming of the announcements is the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (the bigger version).

The larger design and retina display is very welcome, don't get me wrong. But doesn't it just feel like an LG or Samsung? Both amazing brands, too, of course. But it feels like a bit of a copy. 

There's a mention of an increased battery life, but they don't mention just how much. 

What's most exciting is the enhanced camera function, with an 8MP iSight spec and a new sensor with focus pixels and 1080p video recording. Samsung's S4 camera has always trumped that of any iPhones, so it will be interesting to see how it measures up in reality.

It also includes time lapse video - which Instagram's also just added - and is very exciting but already available on that free app.

I might eat my words after getting my hands on one and playing around with it but for now, here's a full list of its specs. We'll let you decide for yourself: 

  • Screen: 5.5in, 1920x1080 401ppi LED; 1300:1 contrast ratio
  • Processor: A8 64-bit ARM with M8 motion coprocessor
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 16GB, 64GB, 128GB
  • Operating system: iOS 8
  • Camera: back: 8MP with 1.5micron pixels, f2.2, Optical image stabilisation, 240fps video, sapphire lens cover, auto-HDR, face detection, 43-megapixel panorama, burst mode 10fps; 1080p video at 30fps or 60fps. Front camera: 1.2MP (1280x960), f2.2, 720p HD, burst mode.
  • Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 with BLE, NFC; VoLTE (voice over LTE) capability, Wi-Fi call handoff capability
  • Dimensions: 158.1 x 778 x 7.1mm
  • Weight: 172g
  • Others: TouchID fingerprint sensor; NFC payment capability for ApplePay

The iPhone 6 is on sale now. It's available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions. The 16GB version will cost £539, 64GB will be £619, and up to £699 for the 128GB version.

What was the most exciting bit (if any) for you? Will Santa be bringing you an iPhone 6 or Watch?

About Rachael Power

Your friendly, neighbourhood community editor. 

Twitter: @rachpower10 

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23rd Sep 2014 12:18

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I hope to read about Android phones too.

There is the innovative Galaxy Edge for a start and the Note 4.

On the watch side there is Moto360, far prettier than the Apple watch - I really do not want to know about someone else's heart beat! What use would that be?

Apple has done it again extremely sleek marketing.  Apple products are over priced with limited functionality. They win on the look stakes. Others are catching up on cosmetics.   

 

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