So, Apple announced what most of us already learned off of rumors: the consumer-level iPhone 5c, and the high-end iPhone 5s. Today, we found out more about the implications of the technology packed in those plastic and aluminium shells, not without a few new tidbits as well, like iWork going free for new devices.
Apple kept their keynote pretty short and concise, which is a little unusual of them. I would've expected them to talk about iOS 7 and a few other things still spinning on the rumor mill, but it's a nice change to hear the Apple execs be a bit more straightforward. I guess they didn't have much of a choice since so many details have leaked out of their supply chain. So while they focused less on the hyperboles, they focused more on the vibrant variance of the 5c and the capabilities of the 5s.
The iPhone 5c is supposed to be the "budget" iPhone we've been hearing about, but instead Apple maintains whatever margins they can keep and sells it with the fun, colorful charm they've used before with their iPod and iMac lineup in years past. It definitely is cheaper though, so it'll appeal to people who can't afford a more expensive smartphone (not to mention people who don't want to look like they can afford a more expensive smartphone).
It's basically the same specs of the iPhone 5 transferred into a plastic enclosure. This is especially a good business decision since it wears off that previous-gen effect on the cheaper options that might have held back lots of customers from buying an iPhone, so it's pretty much inevitable that we'll see market share spike up. Maybe we'll even see record-breaking sales (who am I kidding, we see record-breaking sales every year).
A big benefit of these bold, luminous colors is that it fits so perfectly with iOS 7. It puts a big emphasis on Apple's continuous mission to unify hardware and software harmoniously, which they've been a leader at doing in the industry for a long time now. I'd say the only true rival it has in this regard is Nokia with its Lumia line (which they recently sold off to Microsoft). They're fighting a fight I personally think the Lumia phones are winning, but the iPhone isn't too far behind...
Speaking of which, let's finally address the elephant in the room. Supporters of the endless "Apple is doomed" narrative have been fed yet again; now they start bringing up the Lumia and its similarities with the 5c. At first glance it would seem so, and it's awfully tempting to support the argument. On second thought, though, the only commonality between the two phones is the use of colored plastic. Even then, like I said earlier, Apple's played with colors to attract customers in the past long before handhelds were even a thing. As to plastic, it's a material that happens to be cheaper than metal, so it was an obvious choice that contributed to keeping the price low.
Update: Even Nokia seems to be on the bandwagon. A case of pride coming before the fall? Only time will tell...
The iPhone 5c seems like such a necessary device that I just might get it. And the new case. The two tone effect the case creates with the 5c underneath blows OEMs out of the water, especially the Moto X. Apple's not one to offer lots of choice (hence, the overused open vs. closed argument between Android and iOS), but they do offer choice where it matters most, and that's with personalization. This pushes the fun factor of the device even further, so expect more hoards of cash to flow into Apple HQ.
Sidenote: As a case per se, though, I think it sucks. The 5c looks completely capable of fending for itself without a case, in my opinion. I look at it more as a skin, an accessory.
Then, the iPhone 5s. Let me start off by saying this isn't just the best iPhone yet, but this is the best update ever. Since the inception of the iPhone, we've seen smartphones evolve from simple communication devices into micro-computers in the palm of our hands. When I saw all the new features on the 5s as rumors, I didn't understand what on earth they were doing. Fingerprint scanners? What's that all about? But after reading all the news and the stuff on their website, I finally got it. If taking a phone and converting it into a pocket-sized computer is taking it to another level, consider what Apple did here yet another level.
Firstly, the processing power. Forgive me, but I have barely a clue when it comes to the terms Apple used in their keynote regarding their new processors (but then again, I just might understand what they meant the next day since they're likely to get thrown around as buzzwords). However, I completely understood the implications of their new processors. Simply put, apps will run at lightning speeds.
Console-level graphics. No loading times. Apps like iMovie and Infinity Blade will work almost in real time. They put in all this extra horsepower yet the battery life, weight, and size have been kept almost the same. There is no better time than now for Apple to call something they've made an engineering feat.
Also packed into the phone are fingerprint scanning capabilities as I eluded to earlier, branded as Touch ID. The details are very vague at this point about what this could mean beyond Apple's control, especially with recent security issues like PRISM. But let's look at the bright side of things, shall we?
On one hand, this effectively gets rid of the password. No more PINs, no more App Store password pop-ups, no more signing into multiple accounts within multiple apps. It requires just a simple tap of the home button. Thinking more broadly, on the other hand, the technology and platform is available to bring more important accounts and information over to the iPhone. This can be a bad thing, of course, since more information on a device equals more threat to security. However, your fingerprint is stronger than any PIN or password, it's basically you.
With more validation of your identification on your phone, not only can we transfer more information, we can also use that information to make our phone interact more with our daily lives. Credit card information comes to mind, and this is really crucial information. With credit card info in your phone, your phone can be your credit card. The same can go with medical records and perhaps even extremely important legal documents. The closed state of iOS creates the perfect opportunity for people not to worry about their information being handled in unwanted ways. This right here is innovation. Exciting innovation.
Then of course, the camera. This should keep everyone on their toes. Usually, and this goes for the entire industry, camera upgrades have been almost purely hardware-related. More megapixels, bigger openings, etc. Apple took advantage of the 5s's software capabilities and doubled down on picture quality like never before. The iPhone can take pictures a lot more quickly, so now it has the ability to take about 20 pictures (if I'm not mistaken) in an instant and work out which one is best in that same instant. It also has dual-flash that can compliment the exposure of the subject. Again, hardware and software working harmoniously, in more ways than one.
I'm not entirely sure about the specifics, but my point is that all this happens without the user having to do a thing, like iCloud and other Apple services. Some of this technology isn't even in SLR's, yet not only does Apple manage to fit this inside the body of the previous-gen iPhone, but the user doesn't even have to touch a single setting to make it all work and produce absolutely fantastic pictures.
There were other neat features, including the new M7 processor with advanced tracking abilities, especially for fitness apps and surprisingly, even battery life! For example, if you're in your car, the iPhone stops searching for Wi-Fi hotspots and reserves energy. The implications for this new M7 chip are pretty much endless, and I can't wait for developers to take full-on advantage of this amazing technology.
If any one moment were to represent the keynote, it would have to be when Jony Ive said this in one of the 5s videos:
"It's not just rampant technology for technology's sake. Every single component, every process, has been considered and measured to make sure that it's truly useful and actually enhances the user's experience...
"We believe that technology is at its very best, at its most empowering, when it simply disappears."
I may not completely agree with Apple's aesthetic decisions as of late, but they're still the laser-focused company I know and love.