On Tuesday, Apple dropped a ton of product and service updates from new watches and iPads to creating a new on-demand fitness service. Some things were more revolutionary than others, but we wanted to go over the announcements that will help people enjoy a healthier lifestyle and even get outside more. Here are some of my favorites:
There’s a lot happening with Apple Watch, let’s start with the new hardware.
The newest iteration of the Apple Watch series on the surface looks basically the same, but looks can be deceiving. Under the hood, there is improved battery life, which is always a nice upgrade, especially for a device that has to be charged daily, but this increase in power gives the Series 6 an always-on face that is 2.5 times brighter than the previous version, giving you the ability to see it in daylight without having to fully lift your wrist. And that isn’t the only thing that’s always on, the Series 6 now has an always-on altimeter to continually track your elevation in real-time. Both hikers and skiers are going to love this feature.
The biggest feature in the Apple Watch Series 6 has to be its new blood oxygen level sensors. You can take on-demand readings in the accompanying app, and background readings will take place periodically as well throughout the day or night. Knowing your blood oxygen level may be new to you, as most doctors won’t look at it unless there is some underlying issue like shortness of breath, but it’s the rate at which your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. This actually is beneficial if you’re trying to fine tune your performance during training making sure your muscles are getting the oxygen they need when it matters most. In addition, as shortness of breath and other breathing issues have been found to correlate with COVID-19, Apple is partnering with the University of Washington to study early detection of acute respiratory infections with the Apple Watch Series 6. Some early reviews are coming in saying that in order to get good results from the blood oxygen application, you need a tight fit on the watch, just something to look out for if you grab yourself one. The Apple Watch Series 6 is starting at $399.
Apple Watch SE
Apple has also introduced a mid-tier Apple Watch with most of the bells and whistles from the series 6, but not all. The Apple Watch SE includes the always-on altimeter, but not the always-on display. You can’t get EKG readings or blood oxygen levels either, but it does have non-ECG-based heart rate monitoring. It does come with fall detection built in (a feature Buddy is very happy to see) and starts at $279, a price that may be more palatable to people who do not need the latest and greatest feature set all the time.
Not to be outdone by the hardware, the software that runs Apple Watch received some nice upgrades in the form of WatchOS7. Besides feeling overall snappier with animation and app launches, there are a couple features that you might be interested in if you’re active. Custom stand and exercise goals. If you're a ring chaser, then you can now further customize what you’re chasing by increasing or decreasing the amount of time you are trying to stand and exercise each day. New faces for getting outside! This is my favorite update from WatchOS7. They aren’t all available on all watches, except the Series 6, but you can explore for yourself which fits your life best. The water conditions face can include things you kayakers and sailors are interested in such as currents and tides. A compass face with elevation is a must have for any outdoor explorer interested in wandering around. And a photographer face that can show sunrise/sunset times, weather and lighting conditions, as well as when that sought-after golden hour will appear. Apple WatchOS7 is available today for most Apple Watches.
Apple is entering the virtual gym world with Fitness+. There is nothing inherently revolutionary about Fitness+. It has different types of workouts from cardio, to strength training, and yoga. You can search by type, length, trainer, and music (yes, Apple Music is fully integrated into Fitness+, so you can quickly create playlists from your favorite workouts). It does auto-sync nicely with Apple Watch to show you your heart rate and calorie burn right on the screen, as well as your ring progress, and can be displayed on iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. The starting price is $9.99 per month, or $79.99 if you go for the whole year up front. If you buy a new Apple Watch, you get 3 months free, and there is a rumor if you buy the watch from BestBuy you get 6 months free. The only additional thing about Apple Fitness+ worth mentioning is that it can also be purchased as part of Apple’s new service bundling called Apple One. Unfortunately, the only tier that includes Fitness+ is the Premier tier, which is $29.95 per month, but it does also include all the other services in the lower tiers plus a much larger iCloud storage base of 2TB.
That about wraps up what active lifestyle folks would be interested in from the latest Apple event. I expect to see Apple continue down the path of integrating healthy and active products and services into their customer’s lives, and I’m excited to see what’s next.