Apple Announces Two New iPhones, a Mobile Wallet and a Smartwatch

Apple has just brought its September live keynote announcement to a close by beaming every iTunes user a copy of U2’s new album – just one of the surprise launches at today’s event in Cupertino, California. And though some fans will undoubtedly find the gifted music an exciting treat, a free copy of Songs of Innocence was the tiniest announcement of the two hour unveiling.

To start things off, almost every active rumor concerning the iPhone 6 was proven to be true today: Yes, Apple has partnered with MasterCard, Visa and American Express in order to enable an NFC mobile wallet; yes, there are two Apple iPhone 6 models, and one of them is quite big; yes, Apple has a smartwatch; yes, the phones will be released on September 19; and yes, Touch ID plays a role in its mobile payments ecosystem.

The only persistent rumor that proved to be false was the one stating that the larger of the two new iPhones would be delayed due to production concerns.

Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus today, 4.7” and 5.5” in size respectively. Both phones feature the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and have an NFC antenna wired through the top of the handset. These two details factor in to a new mobile wallet app called Apple Pay, which, thanks to new partnerships with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and six major banks, allows for smartphone-based credit card payment at any of 22,000 retailers working with the service as well as online.

Apple Pay can already use cards on file with iTunes or you have the option to take a photo of the card and add it that way after verifying your identity as cardholder with your bank.

In terms of security, payment is authorized via Touch ID and the credit card details are stored and kept within the iPhone’s secure element, just like the biometric templates used for the phone’s fingerprint sensor. This means that cashiers and retailers never have access to a user’s credit card information and Apple can’t access purchase details. Additionally, Apple Pay uses a dynamic security code, adding a sort of one time password factor to transactions, and the payment feature can be killed on lost phones via the Find My iPhone feature.

That announcement alone would have been enough to turn a lot of heads but, believe it or not, the iPhone 6 models and the mobile wallet only took up half of the proceedings. After declaring that, “Apple Pay will forever change the way all of us buy things,” Tim Cook introduced the long anticipated Apple Watch.

Available in two sizes, three different casings and with a large number of customizable bands, Apple’s smartwatch features everything you’d expect – calling, text, social media, widgets and vital biometric measurements – and stuff you might never have hoped to guess.

In addition to the touch screen, users interface with the wearable through the digital crown, mounted on the side, just like an analog watch. It can sync with iPhones 5, 5c, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus and has a strangely intimate feature allowing users to send their heartbeat vibrations to other Apple Watch wearing contacts.

The Apple Watch can also make payments through Apple Pay.

Last year during the September keynote, Apple introduced the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to much fanfare, but the device was quickly and publicly spoofed by the hacking community. The spoofing is an important event to keep in mind as the September 19 drop date approaches, serving as a reminder that this technology still needs to make it to outside hands for testing and consumer approval. That said, having an additional device factor in the form of a smartwatch will go a long way in bolstering security.

Both iPhone 6 models will be shipping on September 19, with pre-orders beginning this coming Friday the 12th. The Apple Watch will be available in early 2015 with prices starting from $349.