Rumor more or less morphed into reality in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday. As expected, Apple introduced the iPhone 6 (and the iPhone 6 Plus), the Apple Watch and a new payments system called Apple Pay. It was an “epic” day according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Now of course, the question becomes how all of this is going to impact local tech? Is there more to the iPhone 6 than just a larger display? Is anybody really going to wear the Apple Watch, and if they do, how can local marketers leverage it to their benefit? How will iOS 8 affect current local models? Will these changes be good or bad?
It’s obviously pretty early in the game to decide exactly what each new development will mean for local tech, but it’s never too early to speculate!
Apple finally caught up with Android and will be featuring near-field communication (NFC) technology in both the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. NFC allows two devices to transfer encrypted data from a short range. Thanks to deals with Visa, American Express and Mastercard, iDevices will come equipped with the ability to make payments with a single click both online and at a number of brick-and-mortar retail locations.
“Apple Pay will forever change the way we buy,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when the new payments system was unveiled in Cupertino. These are pretty bold words considering other tech giants like Google and eBay have failed thus far failed to popularize mobile payments. To it’s credit, Apple has already addressed some of the problems associated with mobile payments.
Very few brick and mortar operations currently accept mobile payments. Apple has a leg up in that regard having entered into agreements with CVS and Walgreens to accept Apple Pay. That’s a combined 15,000 locations Apple can use to test the market. Apple Pay will also be accepted at Macy’s Bloomingdale’s, McDonalds and Whole Foods as well.
It’s fair to say Apple has built a strong base. It’s a long way from consumers deciding to make the switch from cash and credit cards once and for all, but it’s something to keep an eye on. But this could be the beginning of the end.
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
NFC isn’t the only added feature Apple added that is already featured on Android. The iPhone finally supersized its display, with the base model coming with a 4.7 inch screen and the iPhone 6 Plus coming with a 5.5 inch screen. The increased display space is an opportunity for local technology providers to create more advanced apps and kick up social media interactions up a notch thanks to improved photo capabilities.
Another feature of the iPhone 6’s bigger bodies is increased battery life. Apple says the iPhone 6 will be 11 percent less taxing on its battery than iPhone 5, which will translate to 14 percent more talk time. The iPhone 6 Plus will be 14 percent taxing, giving users 24 percent more talk time.
As smartphone batteries improve, there will be more opportunities for local marketers and entrepreneurs to target consumers who live on their smartphones. Longer battery life means people will have more time online to shop and do business. It also means consumers can count on their iPhone being there for them when they need it, which means they will be more willing to depend on it as a payment device.
The Apple Watch is Tim Cook’s first real signature product since taking over as CEO of Apple two years ago. Up until now, he’s ushered in some tweaks like the new look for iOS 7 and bigger displays on the iPhone, but this is the first new line of iDevices since he became head cheese.
Prices for the watch start at $349, and it will be available in 2015. Users will be able to make calls from their watch if for some reason they feel the need to look like spies from a 1960’s b-movie, and watch wearers can communicate with one another by sending each other simple, short animations. There are also some possibly useful things the watch does.
For one thing, it will be integrated into Apple Pay, so it could conceivably have an impact in the payments arena. It will sport a modified iOS, giving developers a new platform to design for. The watch has the ability to track how many steps its user takes and other fitness metrics and will be tied into HealthKit and HomeKit, Apple’s other wellness software initiatives.
Whether or not the Apple Watch catches on is a big “if.” But it could be a good time for hyperlocal developers to get in on the ground floor of a new technology.
Apple also confirmed rumors that iOS 8 will be available for download on September 17. iOS 8 was previewed in June, so there weren’t too many surprises. It has the same look as iOS 7, but features many improvements. It has a brand new predictive text keyboard, new health apps and and new features, such as self-destructing photos and voice messaging added to iMessage.
The biggest change for local tech could be the new permissions offered by iOS 8. For the first time a user can specify that they only want their location to be tracked by a specific app while its in use.
The iOS 8 creates a dynamic MAC address, which will regenerate every so often, making it harder for tech used to gather small data to communicate with it without permission. As OS security improves and more permissions are offered, local developers need to roll with the punches. For now, it looks like consumers have a bit more of a level playing field when it comes to protecting their privacy.
Mason Lerner is a contributor to Street Fight.