Well, Apple's new operating system (iOS 8) and iPhones (6 and 6 Plus) are officially out. What does the OS update mean for you? Should you get one of the new phones? We'll try to help you answer those questions throughout the course of this article.
What do you think of the new devices? The new OS? Share your thoughts here.
First things first. Here's what iOS 8 looks like.
Do NOT update to iOS 8!!! pic.twitter.com/dl0vGdsM8X
— Mike Hawkins (@djMikeHawkins) September 19, 2014
Just kidding. If you don't want to, you don't even have to keep the new U2 album in your iTunes library. If you found it, and were less than thrilled, just know that was Apple and the band being "punk rock" and "disruptive".
Okay, let's move along.
Apple calls the new version the biggest iOS release ever. It features major updates to apps like Messages and Photos, new content sharing capabilities, and new connections between apps and devices.
"Quickly find and edit the photos you take," Apple says of the release. "Add your voice right in a text message. Let your health and fitness apps communicate with each other, with your trainer, and even with your doctor. We’ve also provided developers with deeper access and more tools. You’ll have new keyboard options and even more ways to share your content. And you’ll be able to use iCloud and Touch ID in ways you never have before."
The new Photos app has new search features and smart albums that take care of your photo organization, makes your shots look better, and has new editing tools.
Messages lets you tap to record and send voice or video message. You can also share your location easily.
The iOS 8 interface gives you a new way to respond to notifications as well as shortcuts for those you talk to most. There are also new Mail management features.
The virtual keyboard adds contextual word suggestions as you type, even recognizing who you're typing to and whether you're in Mail or Messages.
There's a Family Sharing feature that lets up to six people in your household share each other's purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store. It lets families keep up with each other's photos, calendars, and locations, as well.
iCloud Drive lets you work on any file from any device, and the OS connects with Macs in a deeper way than was previously possible. You can start an email on one device, for example, and continue it on another. You can even answer phone calls from your iPhone on your Mac or iPad, and send SMS messages from any of these devices.
Also included is an activity tracker, heart rate monitor, and other health and fitness apps that communicate with each other.
For developers, the iOS 8 SDK has over 4,000 new APIs, and includes new sharing options, widgets, custom actions and document APIs.
iOS 8 became available on Wednesday, and is available for iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display.
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus became available on Friday, but even before that, the the reviews from the tech blogs were overwhelmingly positive.
The iPhone 6 is a “thin, sexy phone with a killer camera,” says noted tech journalist David Pogue.
The device is “the best smartphone you can buy,” according to Walt Mossberg at Re/code.
“The iPhone 6 is a great upgrade for current iPhone owners, or for anyone, really. It manages to provide a much larger display in a phone that’s still small enough to handle easily,’ he writes.
The sentiments are echoed throughout the…echo chamber. Most have just about the same amount of praise for the iPhone 6 Plus, but some do find it to be just too big.
John Gruber, who is perhaps the most well-known blogger of all things Apple, says, “If you simply want a bigger iPhone, get the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. That’s what it feels like: a bigger iPhone. If you want something bigger than an iPhone, get the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. It feels more like a new device — a hybrid device class that is bigger than an iPhone but smaller than an iPad Mini — than it feels like a bigger iPhone.”
He adds, “If you don’t want a bigger iPhone — and in recent weeks I’ve heard from numerous readers who still pine for the 3.5-inch display iPhones — you might be disappointed by this year’s iPhone lineup, and should consider sticking with the iPhone 5-class models.”
Read Gruber’s take for probably the most comprehensive review of the devices out there so far.
But all of that was from the media. What do average people think about the devices? Well, here's a real-time feed of the iPhone conversation on Twitter, so see for yourself:
In light of recent celebrity photo leaks, the security of Apple devices has come into question, which is probably why Tim Cook wrote a letter for the company's website addressing security and privacy concerns. Here are a couple of excerpts from that:
Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.
We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.
Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
Cook also makes it a point to note that Apple has never worked with a government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of its products or services, and has never allowed access to services (and "never will").
The NFC feature of the new iPhone models only support Apple Pay, which is the company's new payment mechanism for users to pay for good and services in the physical world (as well as online). Still, the company already has 220,000 retail locations on board for that.
In case you're wondering how the phones stack up against their Android counterparts, here's a comparison with the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Oh, and don't forget, if you get an iPhone, you'll be able to use that Apple Watch when it comes out.
Do you plan on getting a new iPhone? If so, which one? Using iOS 8? What do you think so far? Let us know in the comments.
Images via Apple