Hey everybody, Sage here. Well, it’s September once again, and you know what that means: An annual Apple September event is inevitable, and we’re gonna recap as much as we can. So, let’s just jump right to it…
(If you need to jump to a certain point in the article, these shortcut buttons below will help you.)
Apple Watch Series 6
So to start off the presentation, we have the Apple Watch Series 6. Now while the annual release of a next-generation Watch is nothing new, the features it has are DEFINITELY new.
First off, the Series 6 has a new health sensor on the back (where the charging crystal is), signified by clusters of LEDs (green, red, and infrared) and four photodiodes; this allows for measuring the user’s blood oxygen in only 15 seconds. The final results are then sent through the blood oxygen app, included with the Series 6.
But that’s not all: In terms of hardware, the Series 6 uses a (as to be expected) new SiP (system-in-package) called the S6, which has a dual-core processor based on the A13 Bionic used in the iPhone 11, but optimized for the Apple Watch. This SiP is supposedly 20% faster than its predecessor. The Series 6 also incorporates a built-in altimeter, allowing the watch to measure elevation in real-time. As well as that, the Series 6 also has an improved always-on display: 2.5x brighter when in sunny outdoor conditions.
Now let’s get into the software: The Series 6 Watch comes with watchOS 7 (released the following day on September 16th, 2020), which includes new features such as the ability to share Watch faces, a new Fitness app with dance workouts, a new Sleep app, and automatic handwashing detection. (You can learn more about watchOS 7 in our WWDC 2020 Event Recap here.)
Speaking of Watch faces though, there were some new ones were announced for watchOS 7 as part of the Series 6. Those new ones include a GMT face (for tracking multiple time zones), a Count Up face (for tracking elapsed time), a Chronograph Pro face (featuring multiple time scales), a Typograph face (with the ability to customize the numerals and fonts), an Artist face (featuring artwork from Geoff McFetridge), a Memoji face (a simple watch face featuring the user’s Animoji or customized Memoji of choice), and a Stripes face (with the ability to customize the colors). Also, for those who own an Apple Watch Nike, they’ll get a new Nike Compact watch face.
Another major feature that was announced for watchOS 7 was Family Setup. This feature allows for parents to pair multiple watches onto a single iPhone, as well as set them up there too. Parents can use their iPhone to view their child’s Watch activity and even setup parental controls, such as Schooltime mode, which turns on Do Not Disturb and restricts the child’s interaction with the Watch. However, there’s only one catch to this feature: Family Setup only works with the Watch Series 4 Cellular models or later.
But what I think is the biggest feature of the Apple Watch Series 6 are the colors. The Series 6 comes in 4 colors: Blue Aluminum, a new Gold Stainless Steel, a Graphite Stainless Steel, and for the first time in an Apple Watch, Product Red.
Now there is only one downside to the new Watch: There’s no USB power adapter included (although you still get the cable); you have to either buy it separately or use the previous power adapter.
New watch bands were also announced alongside the Series 6:
- The first is a Solo Loop watch band, where it’s essentially a swim-proof watch band made out of custom liquid silicone that stretches, with no clasps or buckles. It comes in several different sizes as well as 7 different colors: Pink Citrus, Deep Navy (dark blue), Cyprus Green, Ginger (yellow), Product Red, Black, and White. There’s also a braided version made of recyclable yarn, and comes in 5 different colors: Atlantic Blue, Inverness Green, Pink Punch, Product Red, and Charcoal (black).
- The second is a Leather Link watch band, which is as you would expect: It’s made of leather, and has no clasps, instead relying on flexible magnets to attach. It comes in 4 colors: Baltic Blue, California Poppy (orange), Saddle Brown, and Black.
- A new set of Sport Loop bands were also announced: An fluoroelastomer sport band that comes in the same first 5 colors as the new Solo Loop band, and new nylon weave Sport Loop bands in 7 different colors: Kumquat (orange), Deep Navy (dark blue), Plum, Inverness Green, Charcoal (black), Product Red, and Cream (milk white). New Nike Sport Loop bands were also announced, and also come in different colors and variations.
- Finally, there are some new Attelage watch bands for the Hermés edition, in Single and Double tour variants.
The Series 6 Watch starts at $399 USD for the GPS version, while the Cellular version starts at $499 USD. Orders for the new Watch started being taken on the day of its announcement, with the product being released a few days later, on September 18th, 2020.
But we’re not quite done with the Watch just yet…
Apple Watch SE
Apple is also giving the Watch the iPhone SE treatment, and honestly…this makes me want to get an Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch SE is based on the Series 5 (of which the SE model replaces), using the S5 SiP (system-in-package), but includes some of the features from the Series 6, such as the built-in altimeter.
But the main selling-point of the SE is in the price: The SE starts at $279 USD for the GPS version, while the Cellular version starts at $329 USD. (But much like the Series 6, there will be no USB power adapter included, just the cable.)
Orders for the Apple Watch SE started being taken the day of its announcement, with the product being released a few days later, on September 18th, 2020. (The Series 3 also continues to be sold at a starting price of $199 USD.)
Alright, so now it’s time to get into some service territory…
Time for another subscription service from Apple…because of course.
Apple Fitness+ is Apple’s new fitness subscription service, designed to work with both your iDevice and the Apple Watch together. It features the usual stuff you expect out of a subscription service, like fitness training videos, but it’s more than that as you’ll see here…
Apple Fitness+ is accessible through the Fitness app in a new tab dedicated to that service. In that tab, you’ll see a catalog of workout videos, all of which are personalized recommendations. The service also includes a built-in Absolute Beginner program for those looking to get started on fitness.
When you start one of the workout videos on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, the Apple Watch automatically detects which type of workout you’re watching and starts that correct workout type on the Apple Watch. The Watch then automatically sends those workout metrics in real time to the screen you’re viewing the workout in.
The workout videos are also interactive, such as when the trainer reminds you to check your heart rate, the heart rate metric on the workout screen grows more focused.
After the workout video ends, you’ll get a comprehensive summary on the workout screen, such as calories burned and total distance.
Fitness+ includes different types of workout videos, such as yoga, cycling, dance, treadmill, strength, cooldowns, and more. Fitness+ also works anywhere, including indoors, outdoors, and even at the gym. The service is also integrated with Apple Music, so you can save music playlists from Fitness+ and listen to them later in the Music app.
And of course, much like with any of Apple’s software products, it is designed with privacy in mind, so all of the data collected is stored on your device, and nowhere else.
Apple Fitness+ is priced at $9.99 per month and $79.99 per year, both of which are family subscriptions for up to 5 people. The service launches near the end of 2020, and much like with Apple TV+, those who buy an Apple Watch from then-on would receive a free 3 months of Apple Fitness+.
With the addition of Fitness+, Apple’s service count now sits at 6. So how are users going to enjoy all of these services without spending too much money? Well, this is where the service bundling comes in…
Apple One (Service Bundle)
Now this has been rumored for a while now, but here we are: The Apple I—I mean, Apple One service bundle.
The Apple One bundle includes the following services: iCloud (the cloud storage service), Apple Music (the music streaming service), Apple TV+ (the video streaming service), Apple Arcade (the video game subscription service), Apple News+ (the newspaper and magazine service), and of course Apple Fitness+ (the fitness subscription service).
Apple One comes in three tiers:
- The Individual tier, priced at $14.95 USD per month, includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50 GB of iCloud storage for one person.
- The Family tier, priced at $19.95 USD per month, includes everything from the Individual tier, but with 200 GB of iCloud storage, and all the services can be shared with up to 5 members in a family.
- And finally, the Premiere tier, priced at $29.95 USD per month, includes everything from the Family tier, but with additional access to Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+, and up to a staggering 2 TB of iCloud storage.
The bundle launches later in the Fall, and also offers a 30-day free trial for any of the services included in the bundle that customers don’t already have.
So now let’s move onto the final big announcement for this presentation: the iPad.
8th Gen iPad
It’s been more than 10 years since the original iPad came out, and changed the tablet industry forever: No longer where there cheap Windows tablet PCs with resistive touchscreens and styluses, but rather consumer-friendly tablets with capacitive touchscreens that worked with the human finger.
The 8th Generation iPad retains the same design as the previous-generation: The 10.2-inch screen size hasn’t changed, and it supports the same accessories including the Smart Keyboard and 1st generation Apple Pencil.
The biggest change is with the main chip: The 8th Gen iPad uses an A12 Bionic (the same chip used in the iPhone XR), which has both a 4-core CPU and a 6-core GPU in one SoC (system-on-a-chip). It also has the Neural Engine for machine learning capabilities.
The 8th Gen iPad also comes with iPadOS 14, which adds features such as universal search, new streamlined toolbars and sidebars in some apps, Scribble, and more. (Again, you can learn more about it in our WWDC 2020 Event Recap here.)
Also, while we’re on the topic, iPadOS 14, along with iOS 14 and tvOS 14 were released the following day on September 16th, 2020.
The 8th Gen iPad starts at $329 USD for consumers, while educational customers could get it for $299 USD. And unlike the Apple Watch Series 6 (and possibly the next iPhones), it comes with a USB-C Power Adapter, because…I guess tablets are now considered the same class as laptop computers then.
Orders for the 8th Gen iPad started being taken on the day of its announcement, with the product being released a few days later, on September 18th, 2020.
But we’re not quite done yet on the iPad side of things…
iPad Air 4
Well, here it is: What is probably the best thing to come out of this event: a new iPad Air.
The iPad Air got a complete redesign: It is now based on the design language of the iPad Pro, with flat edges, an edge-to-edge Liquid Retina True Tone display measured at 10.9 inches, and no home button in favor of an all-screen front. It also gains some of the same features as the iPad Pro, including USB-C and the ability to magnetically connect the Apple Pencil to the side of the tablet.
The biggest difference however (as you may have seen in the picture) is that it comes in colors: Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue.
It also gains a new feature: Touch ID. But where is it, I hear you ask? Well, since the home button is gone, the power button on the top is instead used for Touch ID. (The iPad Pro could’ve done that, but I guess the technology wasn’t quite there yet…)
Specs-wise, the iPad Air 4 is powered by a new generation of Apple Silicon: The A14 Bionic. This chip uses 5-nanometer technology, with over 11.8 billion transistors packed inside a small SoC. (This will surely make Intel sweat hard, alongside the recent announcement of Nvidia acquiring ARM, among other things.) The A14 also has a better performing 6-core CPU and a 4-core GPU, delivering (of course) better compute and graphics performance compared to its predecessor. The A14 also has a more advanced 16-core Neural Engine, supposedly making machine learning twice as fast than before. And speaking of machine learning, the A14 also has some CPU machine learning (ML) accelerators. This makes the new iPad Air a very powerful beast, especially for professional tasks like video and photo editing.
(Also, on a side note, I have a gut feeling that the A14 Bionic could serve as the basis for the SoCs used in the Apple Silicon-based Macs.)
The cameras were also changed in the new iPad Air: While the front camera uses the same 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera as the previous generation, it was improved with Smart HDR and the ability to record at 1080p at 60fps. The back camera however got some major changes: It’s now the same camera used in the iPad Pro, with a 12-megapixel camera that supports video recording at up to 4K at 60fps.
Other features of the iPad Air 4 consist of stereo speakers for landscape mode, support for the Magic Keyboard accessory, support for WiFi 6, faster LTE, and the inclusion of a 20-watt USB-C power adapter. And of course, with all of these new features, the iPad Air 4 keeps the same 10 hours of battery life, just like the original iPad did more than 10 years ago.
The iPad Air 4 comes in two storage configurations: 64 GB and 256 GB, with a starting price of $599 USD. It is planned to be available sometime in October.
So, there you have it! Overall, Apple’s September event for 2020 was definitely a step-up better than the previous two, both in terms of production value and what products they showcased. But what did I think of the products individually?
Well for one, as a guy who works out sometimes, Apple Fitness+ I think would definitely be useful for some who like to workout, and the Apple One service bundle offerings are, in my opinion, pretty good deals for a bundle of 4 or 6 Apple services, especially the Premier one.
As for the new Watches, Apple continues to improve them every year, and the Series 6 is no exception. However, they were nowhere near as attention-seeking as the Watch SE, which might be the first Apple Watch I might buy. (Though who knows? I’ve made statements like that before in the past, and I’ve ended up changing my mind in the end, haha.)
As for the new iPads, the 8th Gen one I couldn’t care less about, but the new iPad Air: For about $600, you get what is essentially a smaller iPad Pro-like system, but in some way superior thanks to the A14 Bionic chip. (It won’t be long before the iPad Pro gets that chip as well.)
Overall, the entire event was pretty decent; like I said before, it was a major step-up from the previous September event, most likely due to the lack of iPhone news, and the increase in production quality that first appeared in the WWDC 2020 presentation video.
Anyways, that about wraps up this article; as always, stick around for more, and we’ll see you all next time. Take care. 😉