All the pre-event speculation turned out to be surprisingly accurate: Apple indeed will launch two new models of its iPhone, both with larger screens than their predecessors and lots of other impressive technical details, to be available in the U.S. and eight other countries on Sept. 19, and 115 countries by end of the year. A new version of the mobile operating system, iOS 8, will be available for free on Sept. 17.
The company also rolled out its much-anticipated wearable device, the Apple Watch, which is tightly integrated with the iPhone but won’t arrive until early next year. The watch contains a series of sensors to detect heart rate, elevation, distance and more; will come in three main groups of models and promises “millions” of ways to customize the face.
On the business side, the company has launched Apple Pay, a sophisticated mobile payment system designed to securely allow people to use their iPhone (or Apple Watch) to pay online and at 220,000 retail locations including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walgreen’s and Bloomingdale’s. It also rolled out what CEO Tim Cook called a major initiative in health and fitness, with lots of technology to track how users take care of themselves and subtly help them do better.
And though there was no special mention of their recent $3 billion acquisition, Beats Music, Cook did bring out the band U2 to play its new single and announce that Apple is giving away the band’s first new album in a while, Songs of Innocence, to all 500 million users of iTunes.
Wall Street was initially excited about the event’s news, bidding share prices up past $100, before settling back below the day’s opening price by the end of the two-hour presentation, held in the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, Calif.
To see our live blog of the event itself, read below: