Some might argue that the most notable aspect of yesterday’s Apple event was the fact that the company did not announce the iPhone 12 or even refer to the new phones it launches next month.
It was not a surprise, however: all the signs had pointed to it. Instead, what we got was a pretty solid event. What it lacked in excitement (apart from developers), it compensated for good news for consumers …
If you missed the event itself, you will want to start by checking out our listing of everything that was announced. You will find a summary along with links to all the details.
Here is my own perception of the messages …
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple clearly saw the Apple Watch Series 6 as the star of the show and introduced it first (although the ̵
I’m not sure I agree. As I wrote before the event, the headline feature there is the O2 sensor, and while it’s appealing, it’s not enough to sell it to me.
Measuring O2 rate is an interesting and timely feature in a time of a pandemic that damages the lungs. However, I’m not sure it’s a massive reason to choose Series 6. First, I tested a smartwatch with an oxygen saturation feature – and I used it exactly once. Basically, unless you have a medical condition that affects your O2 saturation, it does not vary much.
Of course, you could argue that the ability to easily control your O2 rate if you feel any coronavirus symptoms can be extremely valuable during the pandemic. But it still seems like the vast majority of those infected are asymptomatic, and if you still want to check it regularly, twenty dollars will get you a stand-alone device to do the job. I bought one at the beginning of the crisis and it is now part of our medicine cabinet. So there is not much reason to pay a likely significant premium to get the feature on your Apple Watch.
Series 6 offers some other benefits. The always-on screen is brighter. Charging is faster, which is definitely convenient for those who want to use it for sleep tracking. The U1 chip would certainly be a selling point for the few people with a car key compatible car. Plus the new colors. But overall, I do not see many people upgrading from a Series 5 to this, and personally I do not see any reason to upgrade from my Series 4.
Apple Watch SE
For me, the Apple Watch SE was the more interesting announcement. This costs $ 80 more than the Series 3, but you get a lot for the extra eighty dollars. First, the larger screen makes a surprising difference to usability. It will probably get three years more watchOS support than the S3, which alone can make it a better buy for anyone planning to have the same watch for a few years. It supports Family Setup (more on this in a moment). And it also supports the new watchOS 7 faces.
If you’ve been sitting on the fence about whether to get an Apple Watch or not, the Apple Watch SE is a great time to hop on board. My view remains that this is the new standard Apple Watch.
The strange thing, though, was that Apple chose to keep the Series 3 up for sale. To me, when you consider the differences outlined above, it’s a no-brainer: buy SE instead. I can only assume that Apple found that $ 199 was an important psychological barrier for a significant number of consumers; otherwise it makes no sense.
My guess is that next year the S3 will disappear and the Apple Watch SE will drop to $ 199.
Family setup aka ‘kid mode’
Ok, let’s start with a statement about the obvious: this is a feature targeted at better-off families. To use it, you must not only buy an Apple Watch for each of your children, but it must be a mobile model – which excludes the Series 3, because it is only available in GPS-only version. You can not even use it if your kids already have an S3 mobile, which seems a bit painful.
At the very least, spend $ 329 per person. Child on Apple Watch SE GPS + Cellular plus the extra costs you have to pay for your family plan.
But for those who can afford it, you do not have to be a parent to see the attraction. The reassurance of being able to track your children’s whereabouts, being able to reach them and knowing they can reach you and even send them money on the watch, all adds up to a pretty good set of features.
This was a much smaller update and by far the least interesting thing in yesterday’s Apple event, but it’s important to have an iPad at this price point. Nothing else to say here.
However, this is a huge update. For $ 599, you get something that looks visually different from the 11-inch iPad Pro, offers most of the features that people like and costs $ 200 less.
If you want a better spec, you get the 256GB WiFi + Cellular model for a great device for $ 879, which is still $ 179 cheaper than the $ 1,049 you would pay for the Pro.
Either way, you are not sacrificing too much. You get almost the same screen (0.1 inch smaller and no ProMotion). You still get Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 compatibility. You get USB-C. You get almost the same camera features (missing the ultra-wide camera and True Tone flash). You lose two speakers. You get Touch ID instead of Face ID – but it’s not as if it’s a disadvantage in a time of wearing a mask! Finally, you do not get the LiDAR scanner.
The bottom line is that you now need a very good reason to buy the 11-inch iPad Pro instead of the 10.9-inch iPad Air. (If you, like me, are a fan of the 12.9-inch screen, then of course the more expensive iPad Pro is still the only option.)
Apple Fitness +
Apple Fitness + is definitely a very well-timed launch and is very competitive. I think this will no doubt prove to be popular.
These bundles provide some valuable savings even if you are not interested in all the individual components. There was nothing that interested me personally – the only two paid services I use are Apple Music and iCloud storage – but especially some families want to save money, and that’s always welcome.
I will include my usual complaint that it’s still ridiculous that Apple still only offers 5GB of free iCloud storage, no matter how many devices you buy.
The only loop
I know it’s as small a message as you can get, but combine the minimalist look of an unbroken ribbon with the convenience of sliding it on and off without fasteners, and I’m sold. The big question is whether the stretch band fits well and continues to do so over time. I will find out the answer to the first question on Friday.
One more thing from yesterday’s Apple event
I have one last comment: Apple introduced new dials in watchOS 7, and if you like analog faces – especially those without complications – you are now spoiled for choice.
But I strongly prefer a digital face and as many complications as I can get. My choices remain Modular, Infograph Modular and Siri.
I mean, I know there is only so much you can do in terms of design if you aim to use all the available space, but some more options would be good. I can change the color, but I would like a few more layouts just for visual variation.
That’s my perception of yesterday’s Apple event; what about yours? What was most interesting to you? Any disappointments? Let us know in the comments.
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