Well, all the rumours about Apple delaying the announcement of the iPhone 12 were true. Apple has just concluded its September event, and the event was dominated by the new Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE as well as the new iPad lineup refresh.
Health is the name of the game here, with WatchOS 7 introducing features like sleep tracking, handwashing instructions and VO2 max measurements. Apple has built a bunch of features to motivate users to exercise and keep fit, but they’ve taken it a step further.
Apple Fitness+ is the world’s first workout service built around the Apple Watch. It allows Apple Watch users to pick a workout video on their iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, and the workout metrics are automatically tracked by the watch, while the data captured is able to be seen on the screen during and after the workout.
Fitness+ is launching with the most popular workout activities like yoga, HIIT and more. New workouts will be added to the app every week, and the music playlists used in the workouts will be available for Apple Music subscribers to listen to in the Music app. Fitness+ will be priced at US$9.99 per month, but will not be available in Singapore at launch.
Apple also announced Apple One, a package that combines subscriptions to iCloud, Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+. The Individual plan (US$14.95) and Family plan (US$19.95) will include iCloud storage, Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, while the Premier plan (US$29.95) will also include Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+. The Premier plan will only be available in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.
Something that might interest Apple users in Singapore is the announcement of LumiHealth, a health initiative between Apple and the Singapore government to encourage healthy activity and behaviours. By completing weekly activity goals, rewards worth up to S$380 can be earned over the two-year duration of the programme.
An Apple Watch is required to participate, as is downloading the LumiHealth app from the App Store.
Let’s talk about the hardware introduced, the Apple Watch Series 6. The Watch Series 6 focuses heavily on health features, with improvements to the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature that will remove the limitation set on the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 that won’t correctly track heart rates over 120bpm.
More than that, the Apple Watch Series 6 will support blood oxygen level tracking by shining red and infrared light on the wrist and calculating light reflected back, with notifications pushed to the user if levels drop below a certain threshold. Periodic background readings can also be taken during sleep and recorded to the Health app.
Apple Silicon is in play here, with the S6 processor inside the watch based off the A13 chip but optimised for the Apple Watch. This results in an even better Always-On Display, with the screen 2.5 times brighter when outdoors.
Apple is also launching a bunch of new watch faces, including a GMT face, a Chronograph Pro face, Typograph face and even a Memoji face where you can put your own Memoji on the dial of your Apple Watch.
Apple has also launched new Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop straps made from silicon. It’s essentially a stretchable strap that comes in a range of sizes and colours. There’s also a new leather band, with the Leather Link that has no clasps or buckles. The Watch Series 6 will come in a bunch of colours; Graphite, Blue, Gold and Product(RED).
Apple is introducing a feature called Family Setup, where parents can keep an eye on their children’s whereabouts and more. This feature will not be available in Singapore at launch, unfortunately.
A big point of contention will definitely be the fact that Apple is removing the USB power adapter in the box that you’ll get when you buy an Apple Watch. Starting at S$599, the Apple Watch Series 6 is now available on Apple’s website.
The low-end Apple Watch Series 3 is also being joined by the new Apple Watch SE, with a naming convention similar to how the iPhones are named.
The Apple Watch SE uses a new S5 chip, which makes this watch two times faster than the Apple Watch Series 3. The watch also uses the same accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and accelerometer as Series 6 and will support fall detection.
The Apple Watch SE sits in between the Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch Series 6, with pricing starting at S$419 and it’s available to order today on Apple’s website.
The other big announcement is the update to the iPad lineup. The new iPad 8th generation will be launching with the A12 Bionic processor which is a 40% faster CPU and delivers twice the graphic performance. The iPad 8th generation will start at S$499 and is available now on Apple’s website.
There’s also a new iPad Air, which has significant design changes with smaller bezels, a Touch ID sensor built into the top button, the new A14 Bionic chip as well as the change to a USB-C port like the iPad Pro.
The A14 Bionic chip is the first 5nm chip on the market, and means increased power efficiency and performance, up to a 40% increase over the previous iPad Air. The new iPad Air also boasts a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display that supports P3 wide colour, True Tone technology and more.
The new iPad Air will come in the standard Space Gray and Silver, as well as in three new colours: Rose Gold, Green and Sky Blue.
The iPad Air will start at S$879 and is now available for preorders on Apple’s website, with orders slated to be shipped in October.