Back in January 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, people didn’t know that the demo model didn’t actually work. Five months later, however, Apple’s revolutionary product changed the mobile phone world forever.
Suddenly smartphones moved out of the business-tool category and into the pockets of ordinary people, who wanted to listen to music, play games, read their email, and talk on the phone. In the years since then, Apple has introduced many iPhone models, each one an improvement on the last.
But the quick development of smartphones that use Google’s Android operating system from manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, and Motorola mean Apple no longer dominates the mobile device market. Still, even if the Apple devices don’t outsell all the others, the new iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Watch have once again disrupted the relationship between the ordinary person — especially the 50-plus woman — and technology.
Wearable tech is jewelry
Smart watches have been around for years. IBM introduced a visionary model in 2001, but it was fairly useless and its battery lasted only a few hours. The Matsucom onHand PC (from 1999) boasted four games and a joystick. Samsung, Pebble, and Sony currently have models on the market that provide email alerts, weather updates, calendar updates, along with maps, a fitness tracker, and some games. These retail for about $150 – $400. Pricewise, the Apple Watch will set you back at least $349, depending on the model.
Thing is, the Apple Watch is beautiful, better looking than any of its competitors. Yes, a lot of people will not want to fork over big bucks just so they can send animated emojis to their friends . . . but add to that the ability to send “taps” to get a friend’s attention, a tool that analyzes incoming texts and suggests replies, and a walkie talkie function (because, really, at age 50+ do we really want to be hollering all over the house?).
The Apple Watch appears so attractive that a few times today I glanced over at the gorgeous pink gold timekeeper that adorns my wrist and wondered how Apple’s wearable would look. The Apple Watch will come in two sizes, have 11 different watch faces (including one with Mickey Mouse arms), and buyers can choose from a variety of watchband styles. (The Apple Watch works in conjunction with newer iPhones, probably model 5 and newer. It will not be on the market until 2015.)
My favorite feature by far lies within the watch’s fitness capabilities. Yes, the watch will count your steps and calculate the calories you burn. Yes, you can set goals and measure real-time results. Best of all, you can view your heartbeat — and the visual on your watch face looks like a beating heart! You can even send your heartbeat to others. (Mashable’s Christina Warren thinks that sending heartbeats may become the Apple Watch’s version of sexting.) A pulsating heart on your wrist: how more ET could you get?
Size really does matter
Remember in 2004 when the Motorola Razr phone hit the market? It was sleek. It was slim. It would fit into the back pocket of the tightest jeans. For a long time, consumers wanted cellphones to shrink. The less phones weighed, the easier they were to carry around. Despite the growing interest in the “phablet” — a hybrid of a phone and a small tablet — until now, each new iPhone has been thinner and slightly smaller, even as the actual screens expanded.
The newest models, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, will again be thinner and have aluminum backs to reduce the weight, but the overall size will be larger than anything Apple has produced to date. For the 50+ woman this poses a challenge: we want our phones not to weigh too much, but we also don’t want to put on our reading glasses every time we look at something.
My first reaction to the new phones was a shrug. I love how my 5S slips into a small pocket of my purse, or (and my adult kids will be so embarrassed when they read the next phrase) tucks away safely in my sports bra while I run or workout at the gym. However, there are so many things about both phones that say, “buy me.”
The processor will be faster, the display more beautiful, the battery life longer. The improved camera has a better light sensor and quicker auto focus. More exciting to me: With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, you’ll be able to make phone calls over WiFi. That means when I’m in places where there is Internet access but no 4 LTE (like abroad and many, many places in rural USA), I can make and receive phone calls — something it’s important to be able to do on a phone!
Finally, in the spirit of hurrying the wallet into obsolescence (we already carry our photos in our phones), the “Apple Pay” feature may mean fewer trips to the cash machine and more credit cards left at home.
Bigger may not necessarily be better. A recent interactive piece in the Wall Street Journal concluded that hand size matters most when choosing a phone. The “Reachability” feature in the new, larger iPhones, probably obviates all that. Double click on the button, whatever is on the screen shrinks down so you can easily tap.
And the iPhone Plus? Will I decide on this model despite its size because its phabulousness may make iPad irrelevant? Android lovers have been touting the benefits of the large screens of the Samsung Galaxy line. How nice that iPhone peeps will now have that option.
I still have many questions and I can’t wait to see the features in action. So if you need to find me, you may check my local Apple Store. I’ll be there doing “research.”