It’s been a busy week in the tech world, but most of the headlines have been dominated by Apple, which held its long-awaited press event on Tuesday in Cupertino.
You’re probably aware that the company unveiled its new iPhones and a watch, but what else? If you’ll be hanging with some with tech-savvy friends (or giving mom an explainer) this weekend and don’t want to sound like you’re out of the loop, here’s everything you need to know about what Apple announced this week.
1. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Like last year, when Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s and 5c, we got two new smartphones this year: the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. But Apple went big this time: 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively. The 16GB iPhone 6 will be $199, while the 6 Plus starts at $299. Apple has done away with the 32GB version and now offers a 64GB and 128GB iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but they are still only $100 and $200 more expensive than the 16GB version.
2. NFC: Near-field communications, or NFC, allows you to pay for things using your phone. Apple is finally jumping on the mobile payment bandwagon with Apple Pay, which will arrive on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with an October iOS 8 software upgrade. To use it, hold your phone near the payment reader in a participating store and hold your finger on the Touch ID button. Stores that plan to support it include McDonald’s, Subway, Staples, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Duane Reade, Whole Foods, Nike, Toys R Us, and more. For more, check out Why You Should Ditch Your Wallet for Apple Pay.
3. Upgrade to iOS 8: Speaking of iOS 8, the mobile operating system will arrive on Sept. 17, at which point your can upgrade your older devices. It will work on the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display. It’ll probably hit around noon ET, but you might want to wait until the evening when Apple’s servers aren’t quite as hosed. For more check out, Security Tips for iOS 8 as well as 8 Eye-Catching Features in Apple’s iOS 8.
4. Wi-Fi Calling: There are several networking upgrades on the new iPhones, including support for Wi-Fi calling and Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE). Whether or not you’ll actually be able to tap into these services on you new iPhone largely depends on your carrier, but it’s there once they roll it out. T-Mobile, for once, has committed to Wi-Fi calling. For more, check out 5 Ways 802.11ac Improves the iPhone.
5. 240fps Slow-Mo: Some things remain the same when it comes to the iPhone 6 camera, but the device does get a new image sensor and upgraded image processor for improved Face Detection. The coolest addition, though, is probably the option to capture 1080p HD slow-motion video at 240 frames per second for some truly Matrix-like home movies. For more, check out Should Photographers Upgrade to iPhone 6?
6. A8 Is Enough: Better processing power is (hopefully) a given when you get a next-gen phone, and Apple is no exception, adding its new A8 chip in the new iPhones. The A8 uses an advanced 20-nanometer process for a chip with 2 billion transistors. That’s an increase from 1 million on the A7 for up to 50 percent more energy efficiency than its predecessor. The M8 coprocessor, meanwhile, will come in handy for those who want to use their new iPhone as an exercise buddy, measuring your steps, distance, and elevation changes.”
7. Hurry Up and Wait: Yes, Apple introduced a smartwatch. But no, it’s not called the iWatch. AND we won’t actually get it until next year. While it might seem foolish to miss out on the 2014 holiday season, PCMag’s Sascha Segan speculated that Apple might have another market in mind when it comes to the Apple Watch: China. “China’s holiday season – the blowout, two-week-long Chinese New Year period – starts on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015,” he writes.
8. Sporty, Baby, and Posh Spice: When it finally does arrive, the Apple Watch will come in three versions: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition. The Apple Watch is the base option and it will start at $349 with a few bands to choose from, the Sport should be able to withstand even your toughest workout, while the Edition is the luxury option with more premium bands and some 18-karat gold thrown in for good measure. For more, check out Fashion Takes a Pass on the Apple Watch.
9. Take a (Haptic) Message: One of the cooler (or weirder, depending on who you ask) features on the Apple Watch is the ability to get alerts and messages via pulses or taps from the timepiece. With turn-by-turn directions, for example, the watch will vibrate on the left when you need to turn left and vice versa. You can also send someone a vibration (or your heartbeat) instead of the standard text message. For more on that, check out There’s Only One Reason to Buy an Apple Watch.
10 Here, Have a Free U2 Album: Rumors about U2 showing up were confirmed when Bono and Co. took the stage to debut their new album and rock out at the Flint Center. Apple decided to give all Apple users a free copy of U2’s album, “Songs of Innocence,” which was very nice of them. Except if you don’t like U2, that is. You can’t actually delete the album, but there is a way to hide it.
For more, check out PCMag’s hands on with the Apple Watch and our first look at the the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (comparison video below).
Written by Chloe Albanesius on September 13, 2014 for pcmag.com