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Apple reveals long-anticipated ‘smartwatch’ and new, larger iPhones

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new Apple Watch on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif.
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new Apple Watch on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP

A SMARTWATCH

The audience erupted with cheers as Cook proclaimed that he had “one more thing.” It was how Jobs used to close his keynote addresses.

That one more thing was named the Apple Watch, rather than the iWatch that many people had been speculating.

Cook says Apple had to invent a new interface for the watch because simply shrinking a phone would not work. Much of the interaction will be through the dial on the watch, which Apple calls the digital crown. It’s used to zoom in and out of a map, for instance.

Apple also worked with app developers to create new functionality. Users will be able to unlock room doors at Starwood hotels or remind themselves where they parked cars with a BMW app.

The new watch will come in a variety of styles and straps, with a choice of two sizes. Watches from competing vendors have been criticized for being too big for smaller wrists.

The watch will require one of the new iPhones or an iPhone 5, 5s or 5c. It will be available early next year at a starting price of $349.

MOBILE PAYMENTS

Apple is calling its new payment system Apple Pay.

Consumers will be able to use their phone cameras to capture a photo of their cards. Apple will verify it behind the scenes and add it to the phone’s Passbook account so people can make payments at a retailer. Apple announced several merchants that will accept this system, including Macy’s, Whole Foods, Walgreens and Disney stores — and Apple stores, of course.

Many companies have tried to push mobile payment services, but none has caught on widely. Cook says that’s because the business models have been centered around companies’ self-interest instead of the user experience. The latter, Cook says, is “exactly what Apple does best.”

For security, the card number is stored only on the device. Each time you pay, a one-time card number is created to make the transaction.

NEW SOFTWARE

Though much of the attention has been on new gadgets, the software powering those gadgets is getting its annual refresh. Apple considers iOS 8 to be its biggest update since the introduction of the app store in 2008.

Existing iPhone and iPad users will be eligible for the free upgrade, too.

Among other things, iOS 8 will let devices work better in sync. For instance, it will be possible to start a message on an iPhone and finish it on an iPad. With an upcoming Mac upgrade called Yosemite, it will be possible to continue working on that same message on a Mac computer as well.

These handoff features will extend to the new Apple Watch, too.

The new software will be available to existing users on Sept. 17.

Closing out the event, U2 performed on stage before Cook made its new album, “Songs of Innocence” available for free to all customers of Apple’s iTunes.

Apple’s stock was up 1 percent to $99.36 in Tuesday’s late afternoon trading.

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