I am not known to be an Apple fan. However, running a gadgets website means that I am not here to take any sides either. In fact, if you were walking around the streets of Oxford around 5 o’clock yesterday evening, you may have heard me say good things:
I want Apple to come out with something good. I want Apple to surprise me, amaze me. I want them to bring out something that jolts the world of phones and tech, whether it be in the form of some new feature, a new technology, or that thing we have been waiting for, the iWatch!
Now that I have gone and been as vain as possible, by quoting myself, let me clarify. These are exciting times to be a technology fan. Smartphones have never been as impressive as they have been in the last few months, and the aggressive competition between iOS and Android only makes things better for us fans and enthusiasts. Windows Phone is slowly catching up, the likes of Firefox OS and Tizen are making headlines, and innovations are found aplenty.
So, did Apple fulfil my hopes and expectations? Yes, and no.
In the iPhone 5S, Apple has once again invented something that already existed in the form of biometric sensors on our laptops, and the Motorola Atrix back in 2011. However, Apple have long been a company of “It is not what we do, it is how we do it!”, and that is what they are hoping to achieve with this technology. While the videos look very impressive, we don’t have any unbiased videos, reports, or a phone with us to play, so we’ll have to take Apple’s word with a pinch of salt. Mainly because so far biometric technology has been a bit hit and miss. My laptop at work, where I have applied this technology, often ends up not recognizing my finger, and I have entered the password instead many a time.
However, if Apple have got this right, it would be a good thing for such sensing on all devices. It will allow you to make your device more secure, BYOD would work better, and it would also eliminate the need of remembering passwords. We’ll see!
The next thing Apple are pushing with the iPhone 5S is their bigger camera sensor. Once again, it is something that we’d have to try and see. Apple have had fairly decent cameras, but as the competition pointed out straight away, the 8MP camera is not really impressive with most smartphones giving you 13MP or higher. However, as most photographers and hobbyists know, it is not the number of pixels, but the sensor where the magic happens. We’ll have to wait and see, but it would be interesting to see how this goes.
Another innovation in the camera front is the two tone flash. Whether this is a gimmick, or a genius idea, is another thing we’d be very keen to try out.
The third thing Apple has introduced is a processor solely dedicated to measuring movement. While this would help fitness people, I think this could also be used to add anti-shake algorithms as well as image stabilization to the camera. This is a resource that hasn’t been tapped to it’s full potential, so it would be great to see what the app developers make of this!
Obviously, all this is in addition to the latest chip called A7 from Apple, which boasts faster speeds as well as 64 bit technology. While this puts it in the front running as far as numbers go, it is down to the app makers to use all the bits available.
This is perhaps where I was a bit disappointed. Apple have promised to produce a ‘cheaper’ phone for quite a long time now, and while they have gone and released something called the iPhone 5C (the C stands for colour I assume, not cheap), it is far from cheap. In fact a quick survey on any phone seller’s website will show that it is still more expensive than the other market leaders, such as the Galaxy S4 and HTC ONE, both of which we have found very impressive.
Other than the price point, the specs are very similar to the iPhone 5, and that has meant that Apple have pulled the iPhone 5 out of the market. An interesting move, though it will probably not have as many affects as the pundits have predicted.
I also made the point on Twitter yesterday that the colour range and palettes reminded me of the Lumia series. Whether it was me, or somebody else, or whether it was just plain obvious, but Nokia have proudly called it an imitation, and have been publishing the following image on their Twitter feed and other social media outlets:
Perhaps the biggest game changer for Apple would be the new operating system for their portable iDevices. The biggest threat to the iDevice market has not been the rival hardware, but Android as an OS. While the early years meant it had to play catch up, Android has long overtaken iOS in terms of features. The ability to design apps for free has meant most apps are exactly that on the Android system, and simple things such as settings and adjustments have been very easy. On top of that, other manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc have all added their own ‘bits’, refining the OS even further.
With the addition of the Command Center (sic, American spelling), the notification menu from Android has finally been adapted into Apple. While it isn’t a like for like copy, the purpose is same, and I am sure many Apple users will welcome it.
Other features include making some apps free, which is proving to be quite exciting for most of the people on the internet, and some refining to the apps.
Apple, though, of course, has always been very good at the way it looks, and perhaps that is where the biggest change comes. For once, the UI has a completely new look to it, and the display adds effects such as parallex to give you a 3D feel. Flatter, sharper, it indeed looks more beautiful compared to what has become a very standard look on all the iDevices.
Anyway, there you have it, some thoughts on the latest and greatest from Apple. Do you agree? Leave your thoughts and comments below!