At an event today in Cupertino, California, Apple unveiled its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, with the company calling the devices “the biggest advancements in iPhone history.” The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch Retina HD displays, respectively, and feature advanced iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, the Apple-designed A8 chip, improved wireless technologies, increased battery life, and Apple Pay, a new way to use one’s phone for making payments in-stores and online.
The devices will be available in gold, silver or space gray, and will launch in the US on September 19. The iPhone 6 will be available in three models: 16GB for $199, 64GB for $299 and 128GB for $399. The iPhone 6 Plus offers the same storage configurations, but at higher price points: 16GB for $299, 64GB for $399 and 128GB for $499 (all prices are on a two-year contract). Pre-orders for both models will be available starting September 12.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will include iOS 8, Apple’s upcoming mobile operating system, which will launch for existing iPhone users on September 17. With iOS 8, users can expect a variety of new features, including Apple’s QuickType keyboard, new features in the Messages and Photos apps, an entirely new Health app and much more.
To start, QuickType features predictive typing, and becomes more personalized over time. The keyboard takes context into account, including the recipient of the message and which app is being used while typing. In doing so, the keyboard may suggest favorite phrases, for one, with this information being kept private and encrypted on the device, never being sent to the cloud. The system supports third-party keyboards for additional layouts and input methods.
Elsewhere, the Photos app allows users to automatically straighten horizons, and smart editing tools offer controls for adjusting light and color with a swipe. Users can change individual image characteristics as well, with tools for exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows and more. “Developers can tap into the same robust framework as the built-in Photos app using PhotoKit, and with extensibility APIs, can make their own filters and editing tools available to users within the Photos app,” Apple said in a statement.As for Messages, users can use “Tap to Talk” to share their voice. Users can send multiple photos and videos to their contacts at once, while group messaging will give users the ability to add or remove contacts from a group, along with new options for leaving a conversation entirely or toggling an option to not be disturbed. Finally, users can choose to share their current location within the Messages app, for periods lasting an hour, a day, or longer.
iOS 8’s new Health app gathers a user’s information from multiple health and fitness apps to provide a one-stop-shop for monitoring one’s current health in a single place. HealthKit APIs will give developers the option of making health and fitness apps communicate with one another. With the user’s permission, each app can pick and choose information from other apps to form a more comprehensive view of a user’s personal fitness. For instance, healthcare professionals can view the data patients choose to share through apps like Mayo Clinic.
Other iOS 8 features include family sharing, for sharing photos and calendars with others in a family group, for locating family members and their devices, and the ability to share “eligible” iTunes, iBooks or App Store purchases across each other’s accounts. iCloud Drive allows users to store and easily access any of their documents in the cloud, with any changes synced across devices. HomeKit connects to a user’s home accessories like lights and thermostats, interactive notifications will allow users to respond to notifications and prompts directly from their lock screen, and so on.Finally, Apple Pay looks to revolutionize the way we make purchases online and in traditional retail stores. Available on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the secure platform turns an iPhone into a payment device, as users enter their credit and debit card information, and a unique Device Account Number is assigned and stored to the Secure Element within the iPhone or Apple Watch. When making a purchase in a real-world store, the phone’s NFC antenna, combined with the security of the Touch ID pad on the device, trigger the sale with Apple Pay creating a security code to validate each transaction securely. When making a purchase online, the process is similar, and revolves around the user’s Touch ID.
Apple’s retail locations will support such payments, alongside other major retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, Disney Store (and Walt Disney World Resort), Macy’s, McDonald’s, Sephora, Subway, Staples and many others.
iOS 8 will be available as a free software update, while new iCloud pricing will start at $0.99 per month for 20GB of storage. Plans increase from there, to a maximum of $19.99 per month for 1TB of storage.
(All images courtesy of Apple)