It’s a strange year. Instead of the annual iPhone party that we became aware of in September, Apple’s flagship product will be delayed until next month. So the company has introduced some new things: the latest Apple Watch, an updated iPad Air, and a bundle of services and subscriptions called AppleOne. In another pre-recorded event from Apple’s spaceship campus, Apple unveiled these new products and services, and to the surprise of many, they announced the launch of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 today.
Here’s what’s new from Apple.
Apple Watch 6; a step-by-step update
It is undeniable that the Apple Watch is a mature device. Looking at the Series 5 Apple Watch last year, I said that “the changes in this year’s model are quite minimal,” and this year’s Series 6 offers similar small updates.
This year, the tent has the new Apple Watch ability to measure the oxygen level in your blood. Although this feature is not important for most people, it can be useful for people with asthma, to find out if you have sleep apnea, and potentially for people with Covid-19, to determine if they need to be hospitalized. Apple sells some of this feature and says that it is “a key indicator of your overall well-being”, but apparently it is easy enough to add to the watch, so here it is.
This is the latest addition to Apple Watch’s health features, along with the ECG, now available in many countries, further cementing Apple’s focus on health for this device. Another new health feature in watchOS 7, not specific to the new Apple Watch model, is sleep tracking, which is limited compared to many existing apps but can help people get better sleep routines.
Apple has improved the brightness of the screen. Apple says that “the always-displayed screen is now 2.5 times brighter outdoors when the wrist is down;” although the brightness when lifting the wrist has apparently not changed. This should make it easier to look at the watch without lifting your wrist. The new Apple Watch also provides altitude information.
For the first time, the Apple Watch comes in colors: red and blue join the various metal colors, including new surfaces such as titanium and “graphite” stainless steel. New bands were introduced, including solo loop and braided solo loop, without lock; This looks interesting, but I’m worried about the size when I order online. Apple has a chart you can print, but I find that I change sports loops from one hole to another from day to day, so having a fixed size Apple Watch strap may not work for everyone.
One of the more interesting changes is the Family Setup feature. If you want to buy watches for your kids but they do not have iPhones, you can set them up with your phone. however, their watches must be mobile models. But Apple has introduced the Apple Watch SE, priced from $ 279 ($ 329 with mobile), which fits between $ 199 Series 3 and Series 6. As for the latest model, pricing is in line with last year, from $ 399 to $ 499 (mobile).
The new iPad Air; almost pro
The iPad Air fits between the “regular” iPad, which is the entry-level model, and the iPad Pro. The new iPad Air, which comes in five colors, adopts the straight edges of the iPad Pro, and includes many of the features at a much lower price (it starts at $ 599). With Apple’s new A14 processor – the first time we see this chip, which can also power the iPhone 12 – this iPad can be faster than the iPad Pro. The 10.9 “floating retina display is similar to the pro devices, and it is also the first device to have Touch ID on the power button.
It supports Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, offers “battery life all day”, and has wide stereo sound. It is also the second iPad model to use USB-C connections, and has Wi-Fi 6, the new, faster Wi-Fi standard available on the iPhone 11 series and iPad Pro.
While most of this does not sound exciting, it is a solid upgrade for the mid-range iPad. Most users do not need the iPad Pro, but we look forward to seeing what Apple will do with these iPads in the coming months. It is worth noting that the iPad mini was not updated and that it can run like the iPod touch. This is a shame, because the iPad mini is a great device, very portable, but it is now more expensive than the “regular” iPad.
Much has been said about Apple services: products such as Apple Music, Apple TV +, iCloud and more. We discussed how Apple changed from a hardware company to a media company back in 2018, and how the company strengthened this transition with new services in 2019. Apple has announced a new service and a new package, with a view to increasing this share. and get more people to use services that do not have a large intake.
Fitness + is a new fitness service “powered by Apple Watch.” For $ 10 a month or $ 80 a year (with a 3-month free trial) you get access to a wide range of video workouts. It is powered by Apple Watch because it is the device that records data about your activity, but the videos are available on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. (Oddly enough not on Mac.)
There is a wide range of activities, some involving little equipment, but others requiring a treadmill, exercise bike or weights. There are yoga workouts as well as strength training, and Apple said there will be some programs for beginners.
It seems that this service is for training rats, and it comes at a good time when gyms are not safe rooms. However, I wish workouts were also available for people who cannot do many of these activities: the elderly or the disabled, who have specific limitations that are often overlooked in this type of program.
Apple One, the service pack
Apple has gathered a number of its services to create the Apple One package. Two main levels give individual ($ 15 / mo) and family ($ 20 / mo) access to Apple Music, Apple TV +, Apple Arcade and (a bad) 50GB of iCloud storage. (You’ll probably be able to pay extra for extra iCloud storage if needed.) If you’re in Australia, Canada, the UK or the US, you have the option to choose Apple One Premier, which also includes Apple News + and Fitness +, and 2 TB iCloud storage, for $ 30, that you can share with up to five other people. The latter level is limited because Apple News + is only available in these countries, but I was expecting a worldwide individual level with Fitness +. But it is likely that Fitness + attracts the fewest users, so for now they will only keep it separate in most countries.
Each of these deals saves money compared to the cost of individual services, but only if you plan to use them all. If you’re not interested in either Apple TV + or Apple Arcade, save just one or three dollars on the basic levels. The premium level offers a saving of $ 25, but again this assumes that you would have paid for 2 TB of storage, that you would have Apple Fitness + etc.
iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7 and tvOS 14
The biggest surprise in yesterday’s event was the announcement that iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 would be released today. This was a surprise for some reason. Neither the new iPad Air nor the new Apple Watch is available immediately, and while the regular iPad will ship soon, this may have been delayed a bit. Usually, the iOS release is related to the release of the iPhone, but with this year’s iPhone delayed, it may be that Apple simply wanted to get something new in the hands of users.
The biggest problem is that the developers were not aware of this, and many of them have not completed the update of their apps for iOS 14, and they must now hurry to try to submit them and get them approved quickly. (Apple only released the “goldmasters” of these operating systems, the final developer builds, after yesterday’s event.)
So you can update your devices today and enjoy the many new features available, while deciding whether you need a new Apple Watch or iPad. But if there are any apps you depend on, check with the developers before taking the plunge. updates may not be available right away.
About Kirk McElhearn
Kirk McElhearn writes about Mac, iPod, iTunes, books, music and more on his blog Kirkville. He co-hosts Intego Mac Podcast and PhotoActive, and is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS and several other websites and publications. Kirk has authored more than twenty books, including Take Control books on iTunes, LaunchBar, and Scrivener. Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn. View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →