At the much anticipated Apple event this week in Cupertino, the technology giant rewarded fanboys and gadget geeks alike with its biggest and most impactful event in years. While new iPhone models took their expected place of prominence, in many ways they were outshined by the debut of a new Apple smartwatch and a mobile payment system. And oh yeah, U2 showed up, played a song, and offered their new album free to all iTunes users. Boy, there was lot to take in from this event.

With these new products, Apple continues its excellent streak of taking what other vendors have done and improving radically on it. People like to refer to Apple as an innovator, but if by innovator one means creating something brand new, it’s pretty rare. When it comes to creating new tech, Apple’s motto may as well be “I will follow”.

But the kind of innovation that Apple practices is just as important, if not more so. They take ideas that others have started, and perfect them. And this kind of innovation is what has given Apple the edge over competitors all these years.

In this article, I (as in Tech Pro Essentials Editorial Director Jim Rapoza) will join with Aberdeen Group research analyst Sean Butler to break down the Apple announcements and try to figure out the mysterious ways in which these new products will impact business technology and all end-users.


iPhone 6

iPhone6At the event, Apple announced two new phones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, the company’s first foray into larger “phablet” devices. They are schedule for release on September 19, though you could wait until October to pick it up.

Jim: Without a doubt there are enough new features and capabilities in these new iPhones to fill gadget geeks and fanboys with desire. The new iPhones are thin and attractive devices that don’t skimp on power. They’ve also added improved capabilities for image taking, both for traditional photos, videos and selfies. And with an improved graphics processor and the new super high definition retina displays, content on the phone will look even better than the real thing. But probably the biggest new phone capability is the fact that the 5.5 inch screen iPhone 6 Plus finally brings us an Apple phablet. While they’ve dismissed big phones in the past, many Apple users are happy to finally be able to stand up to their friends with giant Samsung phones

Sean: That’s a good point because I think some Apple fans saw themselves stuck in a moment you can’t get out of when comparing their iPhone’s to their friend’s new Android phones. One thing is for sure though, with the new iPhone 6 and 6 plus Apple, has raised the bar for how beautiful a phone can be. The new phone comes with much needed enhancements to the camera, the display, but maybe most importantly to the actual size of the device. As you said, the 5.5” iPhone 6 plus gives Apple a late play into the phablet market while the 4.7” iPhone 6 provides users with a solid upgrade over the 4” screen of the iPhone 5s. I really believe the upgrade that brings this iPhone close into the heart is the new A8 chip that will give the phone a much more impressive battery life, and for those of us who bring chargers everywhere, this is very good news.


ApplePayApple Pay

Announced at the event this week, Apple Pay is a mobile payments solution that makes it possible for people to purchase goods and services at a number of real-world and on-line vendors using their phone.

Jim: For some people, no epayment system will ever replace cold hard cash. They just like the feel of real bills, slappin’ ‘em down, $100, $200. But the future lies in mobile payment systems. However, most of the e-wallets and other payment systems we’ve seen so far have come up short. With Apple Pay, they’re looking to finally provide a mobile payment system that address all concerns, but I’m not yet sure if this is the one. The biggest concern that most people have with mobile payments is security. Listen to many people talk about the dangers of mobile payments and it’s like they’re talking about the end of the world. However, with Apple Pay, they’ve implemented some nice security options. It uses a unique code for payment, so that no vendor ever actually sees or stores your credit card info. And the integration with their Touch ID makes it hard for just anyone to use the phone for purchases. To me the biggest hang-up is lack of ubiquity. Apple Pay will only work on the iPhone 6 devices and Watch, and will probably be an Apple only system, so clearly, Apple will run their payment system with or without you. But I think that, before there can be a celebration about finally solving the mobile payment solutions, it will need to work with most devices and at most vendors.

Sean: I hear you Jim but I really think the new Apple pay system will allow customers to rejoice, as it appears payments will be easier and at least more secure than before. Sure it won’t be available on all devices or at all vendors initially, but it’s a big step in the right direction. My biggest concern initially was where will I actually be able to use this, but Apple has leveraged their strong partner network to make sure that prominent retailers like Target, Whole Foods, Walgreens, and many others are on board with their new payment platform. This seems like a mobile payment method that is able to keep up with the speed of life. Apple made sure to hammer home that security was at the top of their list when designing this product and they set their bar very high. I will say that the sweetest thing may be the ability to pay for purchases with a one-time unique code instead of transferring all of your credit card information into a company’s database that we have seen hacked before. The additional security measures are nice but I think Apple most importantly tried to balance security with ease of use, and that’s what will matter to the end users. Apple was also incredibly clear that they will not be tracking purchase information, which is comforting to those of us who do not want any more personal information out there than there already is.


AppleWatchApple Watch

We were all wrong in our guess that the new wearable would be the iWatch, but the Apple Watch is an impressive debut from Apple into the world of smart watches.

Jim: Everyone knew that Apple was going to debut a smart watch at this event, and I have to admit, my hopes weren’t high that it would be impressive. But I have to say, the Apple Watch has definitely caught my interest. Like other new smart watches, the Apple Watch is attractive and stylish, and can be configured to have many different faces, from a classic Swiss timepiece to a Mickey Mouse watch. The most impressive thing is in their interface choices. Trying to use a touch interface on a small phone screen can quickly give you vertigo. However, Apple has cleverly used the classic watch winding crown and made it into a control for the watch. Users can scroll through capabilities by twisting the crown and make selections by pressing in on it. The Apple Watch also has an impressive set of features, from health and fitness capabilities to integrated maps that can help you find your way if you’re lost where the streets have no name. One of the biggest questions is in charging and battery life. The Apple Watch uses MagSafe magnetic charging, so no wire is needed. From the demo, it sounds like users should expect a full day of usage between charges, which is needed to make a smart watch actually practical. Of course, like most smart watches today, the Apple Watch needs to work in conjunction with a tethered smartphone for full capabilities, in this case, iPhone 5’s or 6’s. For me, this is a sticking point before I invest in a smart watch. I’m looking for a watch that, while supplemented by a phone, does quite a bit by itself. But for now, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

Sean: Just when I was thinking is that all? Tim Cook saved the most innovative product for last with the very impressive Apple Watch. The first thing to notice about the Apple Watch is that it actually looks good, which is very important for something that is on a part of your body that is visible to the eye all day. Apple really appears to have taken time to try and get their first watch right, with impressive features like the Digital Crown providing users with a way to navigate their watch without blocking whatever they are trying to look at. If there is one thing you can say it is that the Apple Watch is maniacally focused on convenience for users, allowing them to get directions, pay for transactions with Apple Pay integration, and track fitness metrics in the background to give users feedback on their daily activity. The features Apple focused on provide true benefit for the person wearing the watch and bring the wearable segment to a new elevation. All that said, I still have a real concern that the watch will run out of battery after giving me directions to my next appointment and will leave me staring at the sun to figure out what time it is. Apple did the right thing getting into the market now with a good product but I’m not sure I’ll surrender my analog watch just yet.

Let us know your thoughts about the new Apple devices in the comments below. And were you able to find every U2 reference in this article?

For more on the evolution of mobile read the Aberdeen report Flash Forward: Will the Future of Mobility Include Smartphones?