Apple takes one of its biggest leaps in years with new iPhones and Apple Watch

Alok Jha

Former Science Correspondent

The Apple Watch is unveiled in California. Credit: Apple

Most of the predictions were right. The two new iPhone 6 models are bigger than the iPhone 5, thinner, more rounded, they have higher definition displays and you can use them to make payments (via a new platform called Apple Pay).

So far so predicted. The iWatch is not called the iWatch but an "Apple Watch" that comes in several different styles.

There are some nifty extra details worth mentioning. Because the screens are so big (especially on the iPhone 6 Plus), there are specific improvements to the interface to help you use the phones one-handed - a double tap moves all the apps to the bottom of the screen so you can reach them all; an improved keyboard tries to predict words as you're typing .

The cameras are much improved, with higher definition, better autofocus and ability to account for multiple exposures in a single shot.

There is also now the ability to do some interesting-looking slow-motion video that will no doubt unleash a whole slew of tricksy YouTube videos in the coming months.

The new iPhone's landscape home screen. Credit: Apple

There were plenty of cheers during the launch in Cupertino for all sorts of not-very-amazing things - who knew that being able to look at your text messages in a horizontal screen on your phone would be quite so exciting to Apple fans? (Those outside the event itself were left largely unimpressed by the patchy live video feed and inexplicable Japanese voiceover which, about 20 minutes in, gave up entirely).

The biggest cheer - and, I'll say cautiously, a cheer that was deserved - was the much-trailed watch.

According to the videos at the launch, the gleaming Apple Watch certainly *looks* beautiful. And unobtrusively like a watch too, which is a bit of a surprise, given Apple usually want to re-invent everything to within an inch of its futuristic life.

There are more than a dozen bezel and strap combinations to choose from and the flexible display is made of (supposedly) unbreakable sapphire glass. You can dictate text messages, talk to Siri and feel notifications come in as gentle buzzing on your wrist.

Infrared and visible-light LEDs will detect pulse-rates. Credit: Apple

You can even delight your loved ones by sending your heartbeat to their watches. (I assume you could also creep people out with this function, by unexpectedly sending them an animated image of your pulsating heart.)

The health apps on the phone and watch are most interesting. Infra-red and visible LEDs in the underside of the watch measure your pulse rate and accelerometers on both devices measure your movement.

Apple looks like it wants you to replace the various devices you might have from Fitbit, Garmin and the like - and this is an attractive proposition given how seamlessly the Apple devices seem to integrate health and fitness information into the phone and (one assumes) onto your computer.

Anyone who has been frustrated by losing data from the myriad fitness trackers out there (or just not been able to synchronise information in the first place) will surely be happy to give this a go.

Users can send pre-set messages on the new Apple Watch. Credit: Apple

My only slight hesitation is that the proof of all these sorts of tracker devices is always in the practice - how easy is it to sync information? How accurate is it at measuring your steps or runs? If it consistently gets things wrong, users will never abandon it fast.

Today's launch had a lot more new devices and functions than most others from recent years - with genuinely interesting new product areas for a computer company that is rapidly placing itself at the centre of most people's digital lifestyles.

There is another question raised by today's launch, though - perhaps the most important of all.

Between the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, is this the end of ubiquitous "i" plastered before the names of new toys as a way to automatically apply a layer of cool to a piece of technology? Or is this just Apple moving out of the shadow of the great Steve Jobs?