At the much-anticipated Apple event held last Tuesday in Cupertino, California, Apple CEO Tim Cook launched a line of several new products, including the newest smartphone model from Apple, the iPhone 6 and the rumored Apple Watch.
The biggest announcement was the Apple Watch, a compact computer in a wearable device. The Apple Watch introduces new competition to the wearable technology market populated by Google’s Android Wear and similar products released by Samsung and Motorola. The product features interchangeable straps and a scrolling wheel used for navigation and can be used to view photos, reply to messages, navigate using Apple Maps and send sketches created with a user’s finger. The Apple Watch’s features also have a heavy emphasis on monitoring and improving health and fitness.
While many questioned Apple’s ability to innovate following the death of the previous co-founder, chairman and CEO Steve Jobs, Cook believes that the launch of the Apple Watch is the company’s answers to those doubts.
“We believe this product will redefine what people expect from this category. I’m so proud to share it with you this morning. It’s the next chapter in Apple’s story.” he announced.
While Apple’s new product is novel, it may be a little superfluous for the average student buyer. Some, like Rie Maeda ’16, don’t see the need in having more technology built into a watch.
“A watch is a watch; it’s supposed to tell you the time. I don’t get why you have to change something that has been around for such a long time,” she said. “Plus, I feel like it would be distracting; I would want to be sending drawings to my friends during class.”
The sentiment is echoed by Chasity Davis ’15, who believes it may be overstepping its function as a watch.
“The watch is going a little too much. Some people may be able to make use of it, but I would rather just carry around my phone to message people. The watch is oversimplifying things.”
Apple also released the newest model of its phone, the iPhone 6, which is most markedly characterized by its larger size, a response to the “phablet,” or phone and tablet combation, trend that has been infiltrating the mobile device market.
One of the iPhone’s main competitors, the Samsung Galaxy S5, measures 5.1 inches across the screen. The new iPhone 6 measures 4.7 inches across, while the iPhone 6 Plus is even larger than the Galaxy S5, featuring a 5.5-inch screen. The size increase has been met with mixed reviews, with some such as Claire Devlin ’18 wondering whether the larger size will detract from the mobile aspect of owning a mobile phone.
“I personally wouldn’t go bigger than the iPhone 5, because I want my cellphone to be a cellphone and not turn into a tablet,” she says.
This sentiment is reiterated by Maeda. “I wouldn’t want a larger cellphone because the iPhone 5 is perfect. I can put it into my jacket pocket; a larger one is an inconvenience.”
Other students, including Davis, are intrigued by the idea of having a larger screen.
“Perhaps the larger screen is appealing in its practicality. Rather than always carrying around a laptop or a tablet, you can watch a movie comfortably on your phone with a larger screen. I think it’s also indicative of the ‘bigger is better’ trend, and it seems like that is very much still applicable in our society.”
Both models feature a new retina HD display and are thinner than the previous iPhone 5, with the iPhone 6 measuring 6.9 millimeters in thickness and the iPhone 6 Plus 7.1 mm. Both new iPhones, powered by Apple’s A8 chip, are rumored to have a 25 percent faster processing power and 50 percent faster graphics.
However, even Apple’s software and hardware upgrades aren’t enough for some to consider updating their current phone. “I’m definitely not going to upgrade. I don’t believe in the whole hype of getting a new iPhone every time there’s a new model,” says Maeda. “Features like the new camera will be of interest to people who are taking tons of photos and tons of selfies, but I don’t do that, so it doesn’t necessarily appeal to me.”
Apple reported a record number of pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The most popular models were the 16 GB version in gold and silver, as well as the 128 GB model in gray. The phones include a barometer that measures air pressure and an eight-megapixel iSight camera with the feature Focus Pixels, a technology that previously only existed in larger DSLR cameras.
Other announcements included the launch of Apple Pay, a mobile payment system that Apple hopes will change the way consumers pay for items. Apple has teamed up with American Express, MasterCard and Visa to create the Apple Pay system, which focuses on maintaining consumer privacy. Cashiers cannot see a customer’s name, card number or security code. While Apple isn’t the first company to launch a mobile payment system, the company is hoping that their technology will make mobile payment both easier and universal, aspects lacking in similar products put out by companies such as Google, PayPal Mobile, Square and Amazon.
Apple’s new releases are helping the company stay relevant in a constantly evolving market. To compete with companies like Samsung and HTC, Apple is catering to the trends being introduced into technology.
“The new iPhone reminds me of the [Samsung] Galaxy, and there is always going to be tension between different companies. I think it will add to the debate going around about which phone is the best,” Davis observed.
Not only does Apple have to keep up with its competition, it also has to keep up with consumer preferences. As the “phablet” trend shows, practicality and mobility are of great importance to customers, as people are trying to condense the size of the devices that they carry. But will phones ever get to the point where they replace computers?
“It depends on what other software would be available on these mobile devices. There are tablet versions of commonly used softwares such as Microsoft Office, but for me, working with a full keyboard and being able to have the screen propped up in front of me will never lose its practicality,” Davis said.