Thursday Morning News

DSC_7935-2040_verge_super_wideEveryone has hands-on previews with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus this morning. Ars Technica says they look and feel nice, with their curved edges compared to the harsh chamfered edges of the iPhone 5 series, but with the caveat that one-handed usage might not be all its cracked up to be, Reachability aside. Similar impressions from Engadget and The Verge (who actually have one preview for each device) take a look at the elongated volume controls, bands on the back, and the camera lens that protrudes from the rear of the device.

Jim Dalrymple has published his preliminary thoughts on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch over at The Loop. He didn’t think trying to stuff the iPhone 6 Plus into his pocket was such a good idea with all the security around, and was impressed with the new UI Apple created to make small screens like the one on the Apple Watch just as easy to use. The Digital Crown is a move of genius, he writes.

Meanwhile, David Pogue has a hands-on with the Apple Watch. His thoughts on the wearable say you kind of have to see it in person before you pass judgement on how big it will look, suggesting it’s actually smaller and much more svelte in person than press photos would have you think. Pogue also shares details on the Apple Watch that weren’t revealed on stage, including minor water resistance, how the Taptic feedback works, and the sheer outrageousness of the 18-carat Apple Watch Edition.

You know Apple did something right with the design of Apple Watch when someone who reviews real watches on a regular basis is saying things like “The overall level of design in the Apple Watch simply blows away anything – digital or analog – in the watch space at $350. There is nothing that comes close to the fluidity, attention to detail, or simple build quality found on the Apple Watch in this price bracket.” Benjamin Clymer also says “Apple got more details right on their watch than the vast majority of Swiss and Asian brands do with similarly priced watches, and those details add up to a really impressive piece of design.”

We’ll have more iPhone 6 and Apple Watch coverage as news trickles through over the next few days, but onto some other tidbits for now. Apple has revised iCloud storage pricing, following in the footsteps of Dropbox and Google. All iCloud users still automatically get 5GB of storage for free, but Apple now offers 20GB for $1.29, 200GB for $4.99, 500GB for $12.99, and 1TB for $24.99, billed monthly. The new pricing compares favourably to the older storage tiers, which used to offer 10GB for $21/year, 20GB for $42/year, or 50GB for $105/year.

Another hooray for Apple in Australia, with the quietest launch of AppleCare+ I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it’s because we already have consumer protection laws, but AppleCare+ is now available in Australia. The service covers accidental damage handling for iPhones, iPads, and iPods for a set nominal fee: $99, $65, and $45, respectively. More information about AppleCare+ on the Apple website.

Apple didn’t say a lot about iOS 8 in yesterday’s keynote, but they did announce a release date shortly after. IOS 8 will launch on September 17th, two days before iPhone is officially available via Apple Stores. Extensions, custom keyboards, and integration with OS X Yosemite are all new features iOS 8 brings to the table.

The iPod classic is dead, long live the iPod classic. Apple redesigned their website yesterday, and killed off the venerable iPod classic at the same time. Ars Technica notes the transition to a Lightning-only lineup is now complete — and while it was way, way overdue (the iPod classic hasn’t been updated since 2009), there will be some that still think their 160GB spinny-disk iPod is the best thing ever. Rest in peace, iPod classic.

The Verge says Apple Pay was this week’s most revolutionary product, finally realising the dream of mobile payments. But the news was underwhelming for those outside of the US, as many countries have already adopted contactless payments. Along a similar vein, Engadget has the skinny on the new token system powering Apple Pay. It works by generating one-time numbers for purchases, meaning companies won’t ever have access to your credit card details — which means no cards to replace every time a company is hacked. Visa’s website talks us through how it all works.

Finally this morning, Apple’s stream difficulties weren’t a result of crossing the streams, as it were, or even an issue of capacity. Instead, technical issues with the way Apple embedded the video into the page and how it incorporated a live-stream with eminently shareable snippets from their presentation were to blame, combined with an incorrect backend setup (an inability for Apple’s CDN to cache the page among them).

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