While we had all hoped that the recently announced Apple showcase would finally introduce us to the iPhone 12, last night’s reveal failed to answer our burning questions. What it did do, however, was unveil a raft of new Apple goodies, many of which were not only unexpected but wholly surprising. At the Apple September Hardware event, the giant focused on two main categories: the Apple Watch and the iPad, marking a new era for portable smart innovation.
With so much anticipation over the event and fans still reeling from the announcement, we’re delving into the biggest takeaways from the massive host of gear. Here’s everything you need to know about the Apple September Hardware Showcase.
Apple Watch Series 6
The biggest announcement on the night came in the form of the hotly-anticipated Apple Watch Series 6. The new flagship model, while aesthetically very similar to its Series 5 predecessor, has upped the computing power, copping a bevy of hardware upgrades in the process. From a visual perspective, the Apple Watch Series 6 now comes with a brighter always-on display, alongside sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection and for the first time, a blood-oxygen sensor. It’s a positive step forward for the tech business. With the likes of Polar and Garmin claiming ownership of the wearable fitness watch market, it makes sense Apple would up its fitness credentials.
In fact, the new additions follow a consistent push further into the fitness space for Apple, a theme that continued throughout the night. Aside from that, the new watch also comes in several new colours, including graphite, blue, red and gold steel. “Apple Watch Series 6 completely redefines what a watch can do,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “With powerful new features, including a Blood Oxygen sensor and app, Apple Watch becomes even more indispensable by providing further insight into overall well-being.”
The good news is that Apple has also updated the software, introducing watchOS7, which offers customers new personalisation options. There are now Stripes, Chronograph Pro, GMT, and Artis faces available as standard, with additional faces up for grabs on the watch store. The new Apple Watch Series 6 is available for pre-order from today and starts from AUD$599, with the GPS + Cellular version starting from AUD$749.
Apple Watch SE
In addition to the flagship release, Apple also unveiled a streamlined version, the Apple Watch SE. Taking the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and always-on altimeter as the flagship and packaging it in a more compact and affordable case, the SE comes in three different case finishes made of 100 per cent recycled aluminium. For casual fans, the SE has essentially everything you’d need. The S5 System in Package (SiP) and dual-core processor delivers fast performance, while the Digital Crown with haptic feedback offers a structurally sound feel.
“Apple Watch SE combines elements of the Series 6 design with the most essential features of Apple Watch, all at a more affordable price,” Williams said. “We’re excited to offer another great option to help customers stay connected, be more active, and keep an eye on their health.” The Apple Watch SE also cops the latest speaker and microphone, which Apple says have been optimised for better sound quality for phone calls, Siri, and Walkie-Talkie,1 along with Bluetooth 5.0. The new Apple Watch SE is available for pre-order from today and starts from AUD$429, with the GPS + Cellular version starting from AUD$499.
To coincide with the Apple Watch release, the tech giant also unveiled a new experience for the health-conscious. According to Apple, the new Fitness+ option “intelligently incorporates metrics from Apple Watch for users to visualise right on their iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, offering a first-of-its-kind personalised workout experience.”
Using a custom recommendation engine, Fitness+ takes into account previously completed workouts to suggest new options tailored to your preferences. For Apple Music subscribers, favourite music from Fitness+ workouts can also be easily saved and listened to later, whether in a workout or otherwise. Additionally, when a workout is selected on iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, the correct workout type will automatically start on Apple Watch, with your metrics shown on-screen during your workout.
“We’re so excited to energise our customers with new ways to get active and stay active with Apple Watch,” Jay Blahnik, Apple’s senior director of fitness for Health Technologies said. “With diverse studio workouts that are suitable for all ability levels, led by a phenomenal group of unique trainers, and an approachable program designed for beginners all the way through to the fitness enthusiast — as well as the flexibility to work out anywhere — there’s something for everyone. We know Fitness+ will take working out with Apple Watch to the next level with unparalleled engagement, convenience, and inspiration.”
Apple Fitness+ will launch with the most popular workout types including Cycling, Treadmill, Rowing, HIIT, Strength, Yoga, Dance, Core, and Mindful Cooldown. The new platform will be made available for users in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and US as a subscription service before the end of 2020. It will be priced at AUD$14.99 per month or AUD$119.99 per year.
iPad Eighth Generation
While the watch announcements were the highlight of Apple’s September Hardware showcase, the tech giant also revealed a host of other exciting news, including the eighth-generation iPad. Copping the A12 Bionic chip for the first time, the new iPad marks a decidedly sideways step for the product line, essentially competing against the iPad Pro.
“We’re excited to offer customers an even faster and more powerful experience with the eighth-generation iPad,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With its beautiful 10.2-inch Retina display, the performance boost from the A12 Bionic, great cameras, and so much more, the new iPad is an incredible value at a time when, more than ever, our customers need powerful and versatile ways to work, play, learn, and connect with loved ones.”
The new iPad will run on an updated iPadOS 14, along with all eligible iPads from Thursday 17 September. The system further integrates Apple Pencil into the iPad experience for improved note-taking capabilities and new ways to work with handwritten notes. For the artists amongst us, shape recognition allows users to draw shapes that are made geometrically perfect and snap right into place when adding diagrams and illustrations in Notes. The eighth-generation iPad is available to order from today and starts from AUD$499, with the GPS + Cellular version starting from AUD$699.
Alongside the eighth-generation iPad came the new iPad Air, which also features the A12 Bionic chip. Available in five finishes, the new iPad Air scores an all-screen design with a larger 10.9-inch liquid retina display. From a performance perspective, the addition of the new chip is a welcomed boost. It’s now easier than ever for users to edit 4K videos, create works of art and play immersive games, thanks to Apple’s new 5-nanometer process technology. The iPad Air also includes a 7MP front-facing FaceTime HD camera and the same 12MP rear camera used in iPad Pro for higher resolution photos and 4K video capture.
“Today we’re excited to introduce a completely redesigned and far more powerful iPad Air, debuting Apple’s most powerful chip ever made, the A14 Bionic,” Joswia said. “With its gorgeous new all-screen design, larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, next-generation Touch ID, and a massive boost in performance with A14 Bionic, the new iPad Air brings customers powerful pro features at an even more affordable price. Along with major upgrades to the iPad Pro and eighth-generation iPad this year, and the powerful new features of iPadOS 14, this is our strongest iPad lineup ever, giving our customers even more ways to enrich their daily lives.”
The new iPad Air will be available next month with a starting price of AUD$899 with the Wi-Fi + cellular version going for AUD$1,099.
Apple One Subscription Service
The final major announcement at Apple’s September Hardware showcase was the arrival of Apple One. The new subscription service bundles all of Apple’s major platforms in one space, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and iCloud.
“Apple One makes enjoying Apple subscription services easier than ever, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud, and more,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “With Apple One, you can access the best of Apple entertainment across all your favourite devices with one simple subscription.”
All Apple One subscribers score a 30-day trial to any services they don’t already have and are only invoiced once per month. According to Apple, there are three options you can sign up for;
- Individual – includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for A$19.95 inc. GST per month.
- Family – includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of iCloud storage for A$25.95 inc. GST per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.
- Premier – where available, includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2TB of iCloud storage for A$39.95 inc. GST per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.
Apple September Showcase
While the event didn’t give us any further information about the upcoming smartphone, Apple’s September Showcase didn’t disappoint. A host of new gear and products ready for action is never a bad thing and with fitness proving to be a major drawcard, Apple is seemingly leaning into the notion.