The initial reviews are in, and no surprise, everyone seems to love the device(s). There are definitely some strong opinions as to which one people prefer (example: John Gruber vastly prefers the iPhone 6 while Nilay Patel loves the iPhone 6 Plus).

Two other interesting tidbits reading the reviews:

1) A lot of folks seem to feel like the iPhone 6 Plus is more like an entirely new device than just a bigger iPhone. It’s a sort of hybrid between the iPhone 6 and the iPad mini. I find this interesting. I wonder if we’ll see more Plus-specific elements, like the landscape keyboard.

Like many others, I wonder what this means for the iPad mini as well (incidentally, I’m typing this on an iPad mini, but I’ve always preferred the iPad Air). I assume Apple will update it with the other iPads (next month?) but do sales plunge with this new device out there? And if so, does Apple shift the iPad line to go bigger (as has also been rumored)?

2) A number of reviewers bake in these weird, pre-emptive apologies to fans of other devices because they say they love the new iPhones. I mean, I get it: no one likes to be trolled, especially by commenters. But you should never apologize for your honest opinion. That’s why we’re reading the review!

John Gruber:

Last week Apple only demonstrated a portion of Apple Watch’s functionality, gave a vague shipping date of only “early 2015”, and announced only a $349 “starting price” that I believe has grossly misinformed the expectations of many people for the prices of the steel and gold models.

I agree. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how much I think the high end Apple Watch is going to cost. When my response is that I would guess it will be “thousands, not hundreds of dollars” they tend to gasp.

By only announcing the pricing floor, Apple is setting a certain expectation. And that expectation, rightly or wrongly, is that the high end Apple Watches will be within hundreds of dollars of the cheapest variety (as is the case with the majority of their other product lines). Like Gruber, I do not believe that will be the case here.

I think we’ll look back and laugh at the time that people were outraged when the rumor was that the device may be $400. Apple, as usual, was thinking differently.

One other point from Gruber:

But Apple Watch is not just a piece of jewelry, and it’s not a mechanical device. It’s a computer. And all computers have lifespans measured in just a handful of years before obsolescence. If you buy a $6,000 mechanical watch and take care of it, you can expect it to outlive you and become a family heirloom. Paying even $1,000, let alone a multiple of that, for a premium Apple Watch seems like folly if it’s going to be obviated by faster, sleeker, longer-lasting versions in just a few years. And I don’t see how it won’t be replaced by faster, sleeker, longer-lasting versions, because that’s how all computer technology goes. Apple Watch is not a tech product, but technology is what distinguishes it — and computer technology gets old fast. A Rolex purchased in 2007 is every bit as good today as it was then. (Arguably even better, given some of Rolex’s questionable design decisions of the last decade.) An iPhone purchased in 2007 is 85 times slower in CPU performance than an iPhone 6, and I don’t even want to think about how much slower EDGE is than LTE networking.

This is the biggest question mark about the high end Apple Watch, in my opinion. With all their products, Apple is on a regular hardware update cycle — and quite often, that’s yearly. Given the computer aspects of the device, you’d have to assume the same is going to be true for the Apple Watch. But who on Earth is going to pay $5,000 a year?

It’s possible that this is a new way for the super rich to show off their wealth: by upgrading their gold Apple Watches yearly. Or it’s possible, as Gruber briefly mentions, that they’ll be able to take their watches to an Apple Store and have the innards swapped out for new components, while the outside remains the same (perhaps just polished in store). 

Either way, it sure seems like Apple doesn’t care much about the notion that a watch is something most people only buy once or twice in their lives. Before the iPhone, people also didn’t upgrade their phones each year (I had my pre-iPhone device, a Motorola Razr, for almost three years before I got the iPhone — imagine that upgrade cycle now). This is different, of course. But I wouldn’t write off something Apple is doing simply because it’s different. That’s often when they do their best work.

This is not your great-grandfather’s watch.

Good, Better, Best, Best Plus

As I noted on Twitter a few days ago, one of the weirdest things about this iPhone upgrade cycle is how hard it is to choose which device to get. I feel like I know exactly which of the “millions” of permutations of the Apple Watch I want (this one). But deciding between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus has been an exercise in agony.

The thing is, this is really the first iPhone cycle that doesn’t have an obvious “winner.” Apple has long taken the “good -> better -> best” approach with the distinctions demarcated by price. But this year is less straightforward.

Yes, the iPhone 6 Plus is the more expensive model. And yes, it bears the “Plus” moniker. But there are trade-offs.

“Plus” doesn’t necessarily mean better here. It means bigger. With its 5.5” screen, by almost all accounts, it’s massive. So large that it will turn away many buyers.

And that includes those of us who would normally default to the more expensive variety of iPhone, assuming it’s the best one money can buy. This is now more subjective than ever before.

Yes, the iPhone 6 Plus has slightly better battery life (thanks to the additional volume) and a slightly better camera (thanks to room for optical image stabilization). But beyond those two features, the device is identical to the iPhone 6. And to many people, that device’s 4.7” screen is actually the plus.

Last year, there was also a choice between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. But Apple made it pretty easy since the 5s had a not insignificant performance edge thanks to its faster chip. Even though I liked the design of the iPhone 5c a bit more, it was still ultimately a no-brainer to go with the iPhone 5s.

Again, this year not so much.

I have ultimately decided to go with the iPhone 6 Plus. My rationale is simply that the two factors I care most about: camera and battery life, are slightly better on the bigger device. But I’m not entirely sold. I have a sneaking suspicion that I may change my mind when I start to use the thing day-to-day.

As for color, I went with Silver. Gold is so 2013.

Update: Yes, because of the different screen sizes, the devices also have different resolutions. And yes, the iPhone 6 Plus screen also has a better PPI — but, oddly, a slightly worse contrast ratio.

(Written on my iPhone)

seth-ze asked:

Hi MG. What's your take on the long lead time for Apple Watch availability? Can't understand Cook's logic here.

I think there are a few factors that could be at play here. Perhaps most likely is that Apple simply did not want the device to leak ahead of time. Had they waited until it was closer to launch, there would have undoubtedly been supply chain leaks out of Asia (and possibly even regulatory filing leaks).

These leaks are obviously now beyond rampant with regard to the iPhone, as we seem to know everything about these devices before Apple announces them. I imagine they care less about leaks in this case simply because the product line isn’t new and they care most about launching the iPhones in a quick and orderly fashion after the announcement. 

Remember that when Apple first unveiled the iPhone in 2007, they did so six months before it was actually available — even more lead time than we’re likely to get here with the Apple Watch. That also ensured the device was at least somewhat of a surprise.

Unlike with the iPhone, Apple will be allowing for third-party applications from day one with the Apple Watch. So this lead time also gives developers some time to think, plan, and build some apps for when the device does launch.

Another idea being thrown around is that Apple had already promised to announce a new product line this year, so while the Apple Watch may not ship until next year, they wanted to get it out there now to keep their word. I’d put a lot less stock in this notion. Would Wall Street be disappointed if Apple didn’t announce a new product this year? Undoubtedly. But if Apple is really in the business of pleasing Wall Street and not their customers, I’d actually believe they’re in trouble.

Also, in the long run, who really cares when Apple announces the new product? The key is that it’s coming, whether the pay off is now or in six months or in a year. The only thing that will ultimately matter is if the thing is any good. And I suspect Apple took their time making sure it was good.

I think the first two ideas are far more likely.

Nathaniel Popper:

JPMorgan Chase’s chief financial officer, Marianne Lake, took the stage at a financial conference on Tuesday under strict orders not to mention her company’s involvement in Apple’s new payment system.

But when Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, at a news conference in California at the same time, finally brought up Apple Pay, one of Ms. Lake’s deputies in New York took a green apple out of her bag and put it on a table on the stage, signaling that Ms. Lake was free to discuss the service.

Subtle. In other tradecraft:

From the beginning, the project was top secret, with what one person involved called a “code name frenzy.” The card companies had code names for Apple and Apple for the card companies. At Visa, the code name was another consumer electronics company, chosen to avert attention from employees who were not involved. Visa soon had about a thousand people on the team.

Would love to know which other consumer electronics company was served up as the red herring.

All in all, pretty amazing how much pull Apple proved to have over another massive industry. That’s was being the most valuable company in world gets you, I suppose.

Ian Kar:

During in-store transactions, Apple will be passing the cryptogram and token to merchants via NFC, and Apple will be paying a “card present” rate in NFC purchases, Lambert confirmed to Bank Innovation. However, when using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), presumably how the iPhone 5 and 5S will do payments, or when making an in-app purchase using Apple Pay, the transaction fee will be the equivalent to a “card-not-present” rate.

Interesting tidbit. And it again points to why Apple is using NFC here instead of just doing it over Bluetooth LE, which they had already been using for a while.

Mat Honan on the birth (and death) of the iPod:

But that iPod event—the Apple “music” event—changed everything else that would come after, for Apple and the rest of us, too. Because like Steve Jobs said that day, with his dad jeans on, “you can fit your whole music library in your pocket. Never before possible.”

Holy. Shit.

The iPod (the click wheel one) was the first Apple product I ever owned. Before that, I was a PC guy all the way. One may even have called me a Microsoft fanboy — true story.

I bought the iPod solely because I was about to drive by myself across the country to move to California. And I needed a way to play back every single song I um, borrowed via Napster in college. That iPod was a gateway drug for me. RIP.

The most sought after feature on the iPhone 6 was a sapphire cover screen and Apple needs to deliver a sapphire covered iPhone sooner rather than later.

Matt Margolis, an analyst with PTT Research, in a new note this week. Margolis is the one who long said the new iPhones would feature such a screen.

Of course, they did not. Which is fine, I’m sure they will one day. But suggesting this was the “most sought after feature” of the iPhone 6 is beyond ridiculous. Most consumer would have no idea there was a difference. Actually, even more ridiculous may be the notion that Apple “needs” to do this. Sometimes, it’s better to just admit you were wrong.

[via AppleInsider]