As far as bold claims about niche topics go, “The biggest innovation to hit the dive industry in a long time” is a lofty one, but that’s exactly what the developers behind the new Apple Watch Ultra app Oceanic+ are boasting. Designed by Huish Outdoors in collaboration with Apple, the Oceanic+ app transforms the rugged Apple Watch Ultra into an “easy-to-use” diving computer that can reach depths of up to 40 metres thanks to the all-new depth gauge and water temperature sensors. Paired with an iPhone companion app, divers can access essential features, “creating an accessible, shareable, better diving experience for everybody.”
On its own, the Apple Watch Ultra is considered the “ultimate device for a healthy life” by its Cupertino creators. A fitness partner, an orienteering tool, and a health device with potentially life-saving functionality. Already Swim-proof, with a resistance rating of 100 metres (under ISO standard 22810), Apple’s flagship smartwatch is already suitable for scuba diving and is complemented by an IP6X dust-resistant rating and MIL-STD 810H certification for a range of subsections like altitude, extreme temperatures, shock and vibration.
So what’s all this hullabaloo about “the biggest innovations to hit the dive industry in a long time”? Because this app transforms a device fit for diving into a device made for diving. “There’s now a companion that communicates clear and timely information to divers,” says Andrea Silvestri, Huish Outdoors’ vice president of product development and design.
The Oceanic+ app for Apple Watch Ultra is a free-to-download app on the App Store, offering many standard dive functions, including depth tracking, timers, and logging. For those that want access to the full suite of functions – decompression tracking, tissue loading, the location planner and an unlimited logbook capacity – Oceanic+ is AUD$15.99 per month or annually for AUD$129.99. There’s also an option for Family Sharing for AUD$189.99 yearly, which gives access to up to five people.
Thanks to the intuitive nature of the Apple Watch platform, the Oceanic+ app keeps divers focused on the environment rather than worrying about “making mental calculations and complicated button clicks required by other diver computers.” According to the CEO of Huish Outdoors, Muke Huish, the main goal of the Oceanic+ app was to maintain this intuitiveness.
“People who know how to use an Apple Watch already know how to use this dive computer because it’s telling them things in a simple format they can understand.” But that hasn’t stopped them from loading the app with some seriously high-tech functionality.
Users can enter their surface time, depth, and gas in the dive planner, and Oceanic+ will compute their No Deco (no-decompression) time—a measurement used to establish a time restriction for a diver at a specific depth. Dive conditions, such as tides, water temperature, and even recent information from the community, including visibility and currents, are also incorporated into the planner.
After a dive, customers will automatically see data displayed on their Apple Watch Ultra, such as their GPS entry and exit positions and a summary of their dive profile. Additional details are available in the Oceanic+ iPhone app summary, including graphs showing the depth, temperature climb rate, and no-decompression limit, as well as a map of your entry and exit points.
The app also takes advantage of haptic feedback, allowing divers to feel notifications underwater, “even through a wetsuit that’s 7 millimetres thick.” What makes haptic feedback so beneficial for divers is that it cuts through the “noise of echoing sounds.”
“Sound propagation in the water is much more powerful than in air,” Silvestri explains. “So if I’m diving with someone and their dive computer is emitting sound, I can’t really recognise if it’s my beep or it’s theirs. I’m hearing a beep, but I don’t know the direction. Incorporating the haptics designed for Ultra, we’ve made the experience very personal; it’s like a gentle nudge to guide you.” Moreover, the app leverages Apple Watch Complications, giving divers quick access to critical information and tools at a glance.
While the app is clearly aimed at experienced divers, Apple says Oceanic+ “was designed to assist anyone looking to dip a toe into the adventures that await in the underwater world.” Or as Silvestri puts it: “Not everyone is a scuba diver every day, but diving is something we think people should be able to enjoy, spending time in the water and developing an even greater respect for nature. And that’s actually the main message, going back to Jacques Cousteau 50 years ago: we need to ride this wave; we need to have more people in the water.”