BUSINESS Technology

Apple event: Apple Pay, Apple Watch, two kinds of iPhone 6, plus U2

The two-hour-long Apple event has wrapped in Cupertino, Calif., ending with a live performance by U2. The appearance by Bono and band mates, which had been rumored, brought enthusiastic applause from the crowd. The band's new album, "Songs of Innocence," was then released on iTunes for free.

CEO Tim Cook touted it as the largest album release of all time.

But the centerpiece of Tuesday's event was arguably the unveiling of Apple Watch, "the most personal device we've ever created," Cook said.

It's Apple's first venture into wearable tech. A dial on the side of the watch acts as the "digital crown" for control and navigation; you also can swipe the face of the watch. The watch has Siri as well as Digital Touch, which allows the user to communicate by taps -- which are felt by another user on his or her watch -- or send pictures you've doodled onto the face of the device.

The watch also comes with fitness and workout components to track activity. The watch starts at $349 and will be available in early 2015.

Among other announcements at the event, executives introduced the company's version of a mobile wallet -- Apple Pay.

"We've created an entirely new payment process," Cook said.

Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue described the basics of the payment method, calling it "fast, secure and private." American Express, MasterCard and Visa are on board, he said. Apple Pay will work at businesses including Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Staples, McDonald's, Panera, Walgreens, Nike, Toys R Us, Subway, Whole Foods and Disneyland -- and for online payments at Target and Apple Stores, according to Apple.

The event began with the announcement of two versions of the iPhone 6 -- the smaller one has a 4.7-inch screen and is 6.9 millimeters (about 0.25 inches) thick; the 5.5-inch version is 7.1 millimeters (also about 0.25 inches) thick. Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said the battery would be equal to or better than the iPhone 5s.

The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 and will be available Sept. 19. Schiller also trumpeted improvements to the iPhone camera.

In a break from tradition, Apple was live-streaming the event, but there were widespread complaints among viewers about the stuttering stream -- #AppleLiveStreamGate was quickly trending in Twitter. Viewing appeared to smooth out as the live stream continued.

In the days leading up to today's big event, we've had a slew of posts dissecting product rumors, looking at the importance of the iPhone and breaking down what the event means for Apple and Chief Executive Tim Cook.

After the (usually about hourlong) event ends, L.A. Times Tech staff will make their way to the product demo area to get some hands-on time with the new devices. Andrea Chang will share her first impressions as well as photos of the new products.

For more tech news, follow me on Twitter @byandreachang.

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