Apple ‘Far Out’ Event Highlights
Earlier this week, Apple held an event at its California headquarters, where it unveiled the goodies that will be filling ‘holiday gifting’ lists and ‘personal indulgences’ lists in the coming months
It’s September, and you know what that means: new iPhones and Apple Watches…and an upgraded pair of AirPods Pro, to boot! Earlier this week, Apple held an event at its Cupertino, California, headquarters, where it unveiled the goodies that will be filling ‘holiday gifting’ lists and ‘personal indulgences’ lists for the months to come. Here’s my complete breakdown of what was launched and what in particular caught my eye.
Apple Watch Ultra: Apple’s annual Watch upgrades add a couple of incremental sensors or marquee capabilities unique to that year, but it’s only once in a rare while that you get an upgrade as significant as the Watch Ultra. The crown jewel of the event, the Apple Watch Ultra is for the folks who want to do more outdoors – the ultra-runners, the serious hikers, the open water divers a.k.a the Garmin wearers of the world, and it looks every bit the part you’d expect from a ruggedized Apple Watch. With a larger 49mm case that affords the biggest battery life upgrade in an Apple Watch ever — a claimed 36 hours on a single charge with up to 60 hours in an optimised mode coming later this year — the Watch Ultra finally steps into serious multi-day territory even if you’re out and about, GPS- and heart-tracking and all!
The build is a rugged titanium with the display covered with a sapphire crystal layer, the latter packing a new night mode that switches to a reddish dial in the late evening for aided visibility. There’s a new customisable button in international orange for quick actions, plus new bands aimed at alpine, train, or ocean environments. Plus there’s added hardware under the hood by way of a dual-frequency GPS system that allows for precise tracking when you’re in a jungle, urban or natural. Interestingly, the Watch Ultra will retail for Rs. 89,900 starting September 23, which is pricier than a regular Apple Watch Series 8 but in the ballpark for Garmin’s lineup.
Apple Watch Series 8: While the Ultra stole the limelight at the event, the standard issue Series 8’s headlining feature is the new body temperature sensor aimed at tracking women’s fertility and ovulation, plus there’s the new Crash Detection (enabled via new motion sensors, an improved gyroscope and a high-G-force accelerometer) feature that’s shared with the iPhones and the Watch Ultra. The latter can, in the unfortunate event of a car crash, detect the event and notify emergency contacts and make an emergency service call. Cellular models now support international roaming and there’s a new Low Power Mode that keeps the watch running while disabling features like the always-on display and auto-workout detection. The Series 8 starts at Rs. 45,900 and is available from September 16, while the affordable Watch SE with the Series 8’s chip will retail from Rs. 29,900.
iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro: Apple’s gone and drawn a solid line in the sand between its Pro and non-Pro models this time around, with the base iPhone 14 (Rs. 79,900 onwards) and 14 Plus (Rs. 89,900) models packing the still-powerful chips from the iPhone 13 series, only this time, the larger 6.7-inch Plus variant replaces the smaller mini from last time around. The iPhone 14 is available starting from September 16 and the Plus from October 7.
The Pros are where the big changes are, with the notch making may for a smaller pill-shaped cutout. But this is no ordinary camera cutout like you’d have seen on a bunch of Android phones – Apple’s gone ahead and made what it calls the “Dynamic Island” interactive. What Apple has very cleverly done is to expand the pixels around the black cutout (which houses the camera and FaceID hardware) into larger cards that can function as interactive widgets. It’s a fun and playful addition to the user interface, not to mention potentially useful as a quick multi-tasking element between apps you’re using all at once — say music controls alongside a timer or expanding to show connected AirPods while your Uber is arriving — without interrupting what you’re doing on the main phone screen. There’s also always-on display support, so you won’t have to tap your iPhone display to glance at your notifications.
When the Pro models arrive September 16 starting at Rs. 129,900 (14 Pro)/Rs. 1,39,900(14 Pro Max), the Dynamic Island island may well be the crowd puller that’ll distract from the other big-ticket improvements, such as the new A16 Bionic chip and the all new 48-megapixel sensor (up from 12MP) on the primary camera. Apple is said to be using a new ‘Photonic Engine’ for its image processing on all the new iPhones that is aimed at delivering improved low-light performance, plus a new Action video stabilised mode lets you capture smoother footage than ever before, albeit at a lower resolution. There’s even a new ‘Emergency SOS via Satellite’ feature, which lets you point your iPhone at a satellite to contact emergency services in the event of a mishap in an area with no cellular service, but with Indian regulations being the way they are about satellite phone connectivity, I wouldn’t hold my breath for this feature making its way into Indian iPhones.
AirPods Pro: They’re a dead ringer for the first-generation AirPods Pro, but the new AirPods Pro are kitted with a new custom H2 chip that Apple claims boosts sound quality and noise-canceling capabilities. Battery life is slightly better, at six hours of listening time and 30 hours total with the charging case. There are new touch sensor controls on the stems of the buds, to quickly change volume with a simple finger swipe (instead of reaching for your phone). The case sees some improvements as well, such as the ability to charge on an Apple Watch charger and emit a beeping sound when they’re lost. Oh, and an all-important addition – a lanyard loop – so you can have it tag along with you everywhere. The new AirPods Pro are available from September 23 for Rs. 26,900.
iOS 16 and watchOS 9: If you already have an Apple Watch or an iPhone, new software updates will hit on September 12, with iPadOS and macOS updates to follow in October.