Life Tech Are Apple’s toys worth the cash?

Are Apple’s toys worth the cash?

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In true Apple fashion, the newly announced iPhone 6 and Apple Watch are the shiniest, most highly featured pieces of eye candy to hit the smartphone and wearable tech market to date.

Consumers now have the choice of not one, but two spanking new iPhones, which have been enhanced in almost every area you could hope for. And it’s about time.

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The launch of Apple’s previous iPhone, the 5s, was met with mixed opinion from all and sundry, owing to a modest range of improvements to hardware and software.

Yes, the processor and camera advancements did deliver upgrades on par with Apple’s competitors, but we were still left wanting.

The new iPhone 6, however, embodies the innovation we’ve all been looking for.

Every aspect of the new smartphone has been improved; from two size increases and display enrichment, to processor and co-processor advances, added camera functionality, data connectivity (both LTE and WiFi) speed improvements and a slick redesign.

Phil Schiller, Apple. Getty
Apple’s Phil Schiller shows off the different sizes of iPhone.

All this basically means the new iPhone is light-speeds faster, uses less power and is capable of offering a user experience on par with current personal computers or even gaming consoles.

The new 4.7-inch sized iPhone will undoubtedly claw back some of the territory lost to Samsung’s Galaxy S5, with the increase in size and improvement in display major factors that previously drew the line between the iPhone 5s and Samsung’s flagship smartphone.

You want a bigger screen, right? One that’s brighter and visually richer; 1 million pixels for the iPhone 6 and 2 million for the iPhone 6 Plus? Of course you do!

The potential of this enriched display now opens up more native and third-party apps to greater landscape use, which is an aspect of usability that will be crucial for the iPhone 6 Plus to make a dent in the over-sized smartphone market.

As always, if you focus purely on the hardware specs of any Apple product, you’re not getting the full picture; Apple is known for constantly tinkering under the hood. The speed of the new iPhones, supposedly 25 per cent faster than the 5s, with 50 per cent improvement in graphics speed, comes via improvements in both hardware and software. This will be more noticeable for people upgrading from iPhone 5 models and lower.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the tech world’s worst kept secret.

While we didn’t see an upgrade to the size of the existing 8-megapixel camera, there has been improvement in the design of the camera elements and integration of an image stabilisation system, which should offer noticeable improvements, especially in low light. The 6 Plus model features an optical version of the image stabilisation system, which is stunning.

We’re calling it now: Yes, the iPhone 6 is worth the upgrade. Whether it’s 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch, the improvements across the board are impressive.

As for Apple’s other piece of new tech candy; the Apple Watch is the wearable we deserve, but not the one we need right now. We, being, Australians.

Together with your iOS 8-running iPhone – sorry iPhone 4 users; we’re talking iPhone 5 and above – the Apple Watch has some amazing features, which, sadly, will take a little longer to see fully operational in our part of the globe.

The ambition of this smartwatch comes into play with features like Apple Pay, which will eventually see users paying for goods and services, even open hotel doors, all with the swish of their Apple Watch-adorned wrist.

As appealing as it is to require only your phone and watch to live, shop and travel, Apple Pay will need a lot of market uptake to be truly useful. Basically, we’re talking integration into existing POS and banking systems. It will happen, but the timeline is indicated as, ‘we’re working hard with suppliers.’

Translation: Don’t hold your breath.

Those lucky enough to score a ticket were the first to play with the Apple Watch.

Health kit is the biggest leap we’ve seen in Apple’s fitness camp in a long time; the integration with the Apple Watch being almost perfect.

From reading your pulse and tracking every aspect of movement – including elevation and GPS location – to scheduling workouts and setting fitness goals, this smartwatch combines all your biometrics onto your iPhone to paint a very thorough picture of your lifestyle. In essence, Apple may have just killed off your personal trainer.

Once they set the Apple Watch free (early 2015), Apple will get pretty swift feedback on its real world use and begin tinkering to make regular improvements to software and apps.

With the US price starting at USD$349, you can bet that a smack of Australia tax will see us paying around the $450 mark. For a smartwatch as fully featured as the Apple Watch, this is still a reasonable price. But if you only utilise one facet of the watch – the smartphone integration OR fitness tracking, not both – your money is better spent elsewhere. Still… SHINY.

The Apple Watch is still months away from release.

It goes without saying that this smartwatch will live or die on the strength of the apps available. Expect many existing apps, like Facebook and Pinterest, to offer Apple Watch integration.

Also remember, the Apple Watch is still months away from release, which gives Apple plenty of time to improve native apps and bolster third-party app developers to give the gadget a strong launch.

Our call: If you’re looking for a smartwatch AND a fitness tracker, this is the piece of wearable tech for you. If not, look elsewhere for a gadget dedicated solely to the functions you seek.

Will you be upgrading to the new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, or buying the new Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments below.

Read about the rise of the world’s largest technology company in The Apple Revolution by Luke Dormehl. Buy it here.

the-apple-revolutionIn The Apple Revolution, Luke Dormehl shares the inside story of how Apple Inc. came to be; from the formation of the company's philosophies and user-friendly ethos, to the 'iPod moment' and global domination, leaving you with a deep understanding of how it was created, why it has flourished, and where it might be going next.

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