Bigger, Bolder, and Better Than Ever: Steve Jobs Would Be Proud of Today's Apple

The company announced two new iPhones and the Apple Watch on Tuesday, marking Tim Cook and team’s best work yet.

09.09.14 7:25 PM ET

Thinking of getting a new phone soon? You might be looking at more than you expected.

At the highly anticipated Apple reveal today, the company unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ ($199 with 8 GB storage, $299 for 16 GB, and $399 for a whopping 128 GB, available in 10 days), the expected larger sizes of phone with 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens. They come with curvaceous, metallic exteriors and displays with millions of pixels—higher resolutions than ever before, which they’ll need with the new menu displays designed for one-handed operation.

The larger screen sizes will enable new on-screen setups, with “two-up display” functions that allow viewing of more than one pane of information at once—great for mail and added keyboard functionality. And in expected Apple fashion, the phones are thinner and faster than ever before. Plus, they measure elevation as well as motion, perfect for tracking how many steps you climbed in a day, and the 8 mega-pixel camera promises to make your photos even better.

Also announced, the new Apple Pay system is promising to make your wallet useless, employing near-field communication (NFC) technology to securely transfer credit-card information in seconds just by holding the phone near a register device—less time than it takes to open your pocketbook or purse. Oh, yeah, and you’ll be able to do the same thing with your wrist. The wrist, in the new Apple world, is where everything happens.

With Apple’s new Apple Watch—not iWatch, as many expected—the future is on your wrist, starting at $349 in early 2015. It’s an attempt to “make technology more personal,” as Tim Cook said during the company’s event today, and it looks like Jony Ive’s team of designers succeeded—and then some. The product looks to be the first mainstream piece of wearable technology that millions will instantly want to buy—helped along by the surreally seductive videos Apple presented today.

What will you do with your Apple Watch? Everything. While the new device is not a port of an iPhone to your wrist, it’s pretty close. You’ll be able to send text messages by dictation, field emails, be guided by virtual map, and communicate with your friends simply by “tapping.” It’s less a time-telling tool than an all-in-one communication device that’s always on your body. You don’t even have to turn it on: simply raising your wrist will activate the device.

Apple is indeed setting about creating its own ecosystem, where its devices will fill every niche in the market for consumer devices. It’s exciting to see, after the relative disappointment that was the candy-colored iPhone 5c. The Apple Watches represent an entire new line of products and applications of Apple’s technology, rather than a repackaging of their old lines. Both the iPhone 6 and the watch are designed for high-end consumption, and the marketing during the launch event went a long way toward making these devices seductively new.

Customers will no doubt give the new Apple products a chance—we have already entered in to Apple’s system, after all. And after the phones and watches comes the company’s real killer app: payments. Apple Pay forms an entire new revenue stream for the company, leveraging its pre-existing access to consumers’ bank accounts. The iPhone is being positioned as the only thing you’ll need in your pocket, and you don’t even need to reach into your pocket if the same technology is on your wrist.

While it’s not an entirely new direction for Apple—not as surprising as, say, the company’s purchase of Beats, which we’ll perhaps hear more about later this year—the launch today will likely be seen as another watershed moment in Apple’s ongoing domination of consumer electronics. It certainly allays fears that the company is stagnating under Tim Cook, too paralyzed to make decisions without its founder. If Cook can keep this energy going, Apple might just carry on its victory march into the next decade. Remember the first iPhone? That’s where we’re at with the Apple Watch. It’s only the start.

The “digital crown” is what the company is calling its version of the spinning dial that comes standard on all analog watches. It functions as a kind of home button for the watch. Spinning it will zoom in and out—not exactly revolutionary—and tapping it will bring you back to the watch’s home screen. Talking about the watch as a new kind of communication might seem grandiose, but it could actually be true. As seen in Apple’s demo, you can shoot a quick sketch to a friend easier than texting them. The “tapping” mechanism is similar, like tapping someone on the shoulder via the Internet. Simply tap on your own screen, and haptic feedback mechanisms in the watch will transfer the gesture to the wrist of your friend.

The Yo app might have brought “one-bit” communication to the public attention, but the Apple Watch thrives on it. What we’re seeing here are the beginnings of a move beyond text. We were already an image-heavy culture, but now, when we’re drawing and tapping to talk to our friends rather than actually talking, we’re moving even farther into that world.

In what was perhaps the most poetic moment of the event, Apple also showed how you could send someone else a representation of your very own heartbeat, as measured by sensors on the back surface of the watch that touch your wrist. What more could the company do to show that technology can now be an intimate part of not just our lives, but our bodies as well?