Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Tuesday event was loaded with news about the company's latest products, but several items were particularly surprising. Sure, there were the big iPhone 6 and Apple Watch announcements. But there were more specific features and services that are worth taking a closer look at. Specifically, Apple Pay, iPhone 6 battery life, and the Apple Watch's Digital Crown.
One of the key differentiating features for Apple's new iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus is Apple Pay. This is a new mobile payments platform that combines built-in NFC technology with Apple's industry-leading fingerprint scanning.
To set up Apple Pay, users can enter and confirm their credit card information and shipping address on their iPhone. The information will be securely stored in the phone's Secure Element. To use Apple Pay, users simply hold their iPhone 6 near a merchant's contactless reader with their finger on Touch ID.
The initial merchant adoption is impressive, with over 220,000 locations already agreeing to accept payments from Apple Pay.
With the two technologies colliding, combined with the ease of use and the initial large-scale adoption of the technology at merchants, Apple has suddenly made an impressive entry into the mobile payments space. While it isn't clear yet whether or not Apple will make any money directly from Apple Pay, it will certainly play a role in fortifying Apple's "sticky" ecosystem that keeps customers coming back for more Apple products.
iPhone 6 battery life
Fortunately, Apple is finally making some progress on battery life. The company's quest for ever-thinner devices has left Apple behind its peers. While the improvement on the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 over the 4-inch iPhone 5s was nominal, the gains were meaningful for the iPhone 6 plus.
Finally, some true all-day iPhone battery life -- at least for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
There's no arguing that battery life is a very important feature to smartphone buyers when making purchase decisions. And it is likely to become increasingly important as users and developers continue to find new ways to put mobile devices to work. This is why it is good news for Apple investors that the company is making progress, even as iPhones continue to get thinner.
Apple Watch Digital Crown
In a move no one predicted, Apple introduced an entirely new input device for wearables. Apple calls the input device a Digital Crown. The company eloquently explains the purpose and functionality of this input device on its website.
Pinching to zoom, as you do on iPhone, is impractical. But rotating the Digital Crown allows you to zoom and scroll nimbly and precisely, without obstructing your view. You can also push it like a button to return to the Home screen, making it an integral part of the Apple Watch experience.
Apple's digital crown will likely become a default input device for smartwatches. Though incredibly simple, the innovation seems intuitive for this still nascent category.
While these three announcements may have been among the most surprising and important, there were many other new items discussed during Apple's iPhone and Apple Watch presentation. If you'd like to catch up on the rest of the new geeky announcements made during the event, it's still possible to replay the keynote here.
Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.