Cupertino, Calif. - After months of speculation, countless rumors and way more alleged leaks than could possibly come true, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced today what was essentially everything industry insiders expected.
It included the company’s first foray into wearables -- the Apple Watch -- and two new iPhones, the 5.9mm-thin iPhone 6 and oversized 7.1mm-thin iPhone 6 Plus with a FullHD 1080 5.5-inch display.
In addition, Apple unveiled its Apple Pay m-commerce platform, included in the new iPhones, that makes pay transactions virtually anonymous.
The Apple Watch is being marketed as an accessory to the iPhone, delivering messaging, turn-by-turn navigation, Siri interaction and iPhone data integration in a square wristwatch available in three models and two sizes.
The traditional watch stem has been turned into Apple’s Digital Crown, which acts as a de facto scrolling mouse to navigate the apps displayed on the flexible Retina watch display. It also allows the wearer to magnify the display. The display is highly customizable with hundreds of face configurations.
Infrared and photo sensors and LEDs on the underside of the watch drive a new Apple Health app for fitness and overall health biometric monitoring. A “Taptic Engine” allows one-tap scrolling through fitness apps and captured data.
The Watch is constructed of stainless steel, aluminum and 18-karat gold.
Calls, messaging, emails and text can be sent via verbal commands from the watch. Functionality such as digital airline and hotel check-in is integrated.
The watch works with all iPhone 5 and new iPhone 6 models. It will retail for $349 but won’t reach the market until next year.
The Apple Watch will run the company’s new mobile-commerce platform, Apple Play, which replaces 50-plus-year-old credit card magnetic strip technology with digital imaging and encryption to render one-tap mobile payments that are more secure and completely anonymous by generating a unique, dynamic security code for each transaction, the company said. Cashiers will not have access to customer name, card number or security codes with Apple Pay.
Announced one-tap Apple Pay partners include Disney, Seamless, Instacart, Sephora, Nordstrom, Chipotle, MLB.com, Panera, Target, Starbucks, Groupon, OpenTable, McDonald’s, Whole Foods and Macy’s.
Apple said it had deals in place with banks and financial institutions responsible for 83 percent of U.S. credit card purchase volume.
Apple Pay will roll out in October in the U.S.
The two new iPhone 6 models, the 4.7-inch 6 and the 5.5-inch 6 Plus, will be available next month.
The new models feature Apple’s new A8 processor which delivers a 25 percent increase on the processing clock and a 50 percent increase in graphics processing over iPhone 5 models.
The iPhone 6 Plus takes advantage of its larger screen in landscape mode with an expanded keyboard.
The new phones are said to be 50 percent more energy efficient than the previous models.
The phones feature voice-over-LTE calling to utilize Wi-Fi when out of cellular network range.
Other features include a barometer and more advanced sensor array for fitness apps that can track elevation as well as distance, for example.
A new 8-megapizel iSight camera boasts a new sensor with Focus Pixels for faster autofocus, a feature previously found only on DSLRs. A new image signal processor helps with shaky hands and low light and adds face detection and smile detection in burst mode. Burst selfie mode offers 10 shots/second.
The phones come in gold, silver and space gray but not Apple’s signature white.
Improvements to the phones’ video cameras include improved stabilization, continuous autofocus and one-tap 240 fps slow motion and time lapse.
Apple said Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, among others, will star in ads for the iPhone 6 models.
Retail pricing for the iPhone 6 will be $199 with a two-year contract and $299 for iPhone 6 Plus with a two-year contract. iPhone 5s pricing drops to $99.
See some of the first iPhone cases here.