Apple’s events are fun, but they can be a little overwhelming. Not everyone has over an hour to watch the world’s most valuable company pitch its latest gadgets, software, and services. If you’re in a rush, or if you just want a quick overview of everything coming your way from Apple in the next few weeks, look no further. This is your concise guide to everything Apple announced at its September 7 “Far Out” event.
Apple, the integration company
CEO Tim Cook started the event standing in a field in the center of Apple Park, and immediately told us we were going to hear about the iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch. Three products that work together seamlessly to provide functionality beyond what they could do alone. Cook said it was “something only Apple can do,” which honestly sounds more like a threat than a boast.
Apple Watch saves lives
Before detailing any new hardware or software, Apple showed a slickly produced montage people reading letters they sent Tim Cook about a time the Apple Watch may have saved their life.
It was intended to be a feel-good moment about the importance of the health and safety features of the Apple Watch, but we couldn’t help but detect a sinister implication of “buy an Apple Watch or you might die.” Apple certainly spent plenty of money on it, going so far as to produce a plane crash wreckage set.
Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8 is a lot like the Series 7. It’s the same size and design, and the S8 system-in-package (SiP) appears to be nearly identical to the S7. What’s new are some new sensors that enable new health and safety features.
A new more sensitive accelerometer and gyroscope are used to detect car crashes and automatically send for help, similar to the fall detection on Apple Watches today. A new body temperature sensor (or pair of them, actually) tracks your teamperature while you sleep to alert you to changing trends, which is especially useful for tracking ovulation. When combined with heart rate and logged cycle data, women will get a detailed view of their menstrual cycle.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is priced the same as Series 7: $399 for 41mm Wi-Fi/GPS, $429 for 45mm Wi-Fi/GPS, and another $100 for cellular connectivity with either. Pre-orders are available now, and shipments start arriving on September 16.
The Apple Watch SE gets its first update. Still technically called just “Apple Watch SE,” this second-generation model is just like the last one, but upgraded to the S8 SiP (which is just like the S7, which is just like the S6, but is about 20 percent faster than the S5 in the original SE). It has slightly larger bezels around the display than the Series 8 and it doesn’t support always-on. Also it doesn’t do ECG, temperature monitoring, or test your blood oxygen levels, and it doesn. But it does have the new gyroscope and accelerometer to support car crash detection.
The price dropped a little, to $249 (40mm GPS) and $299 (44mm GPS) (the old SE was $279 and $329). Pre-orders are available now, and the watches start shipping on September 16.
The biggest new Apple Watch announcement, literally, was the Apple Watch Ultra. A huge 49mm Apple Watch with a bulkier case, it is made for extreme weather and outdoor activity. It’s got a bigger, sturdier case that helps protect the glass face, a new customizable Action button on the left side, is water resistant to 100 meters (twice as much as the Series 8) and is certified for recreational diving down to 40 meters.
It’s got everything you’ll find in the Series 8 model, plus a new high-accuracy dual GPS system, an additional speaker for better outdoor calling performance, and a much bigger battery that lasts twice as long (36 hours). The case is titanium and comes in only a natural titanium hue.
There are three exclusive bands–one made for diving and water sports, one made for endurance sports such as marathon running, and one made for cold weather environments. Apple has tweaked the software in a lot of places to accommodate outdoor and extreme sports enthusiasts, too.
There’s only one model in one size that includes cellular, and it costs $799 with your choice of one of the three bands. Pre-orders are available now, and the watch starts shipping on September 23.
AirPods are one of Apple’s most successful product lines of all time, and the AirPods Pro are its most popular model. But they’re a little old now, and due for an upgrade. The new 2nd-generation AirPods Pro are the first to feature Apple’s new H2 chip, which provides for faster processing with less power. Combined with new custom low-distortion driver and amplifier, it delivers better sound quality (but not lossless), and up to twice the noise cancelling capability. The adaptive transparency mode adapts to outside noises like construction, too, and will automatically increase noise cancelling in louder environments.
The battery lasts an hour longer (6 hours instead of 4.5 hours), and the case provides up to 30 hours of playback (up from 24 hours). The case also has a keychain loop, a speaker for making noise with Find My, support for precision finding with the U1 chip, and can be charged with either MagSafe, a wireless charging pad, an Apple Watch charger, or a Lightning cable. Oh, and there are new extra-small eartips to fit more people.
The second-generation AirPods Pro will sell for $249, with pre-orders starting on September 9 and orders shipping on September 23.
The iPhone 14 is a lot like the iPhone 13, but there are several notable changes and improvements. The mini size is gone, replaced by a 6.7-inch Plus model. They borrow some stuff from the iPhone 13 Pro models–the A15 found within is the same 5-core GPU version found in the iPhone 13 Pro, as is the larger Wide camera sensor with f/1.5 aperture. The front camera has been improved to an f/1.9 aperture with autofocus, which should improve low-light selfies.
Photos are now processed with a new algorithm Apple calls the Photonic Engine that preserves more detail in low light, from all cameras on the phone. And Apple says it has even longer battery life than the iPhone 13. It also comes in new purple and blue colors.
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are about the same size as the iPhone 13 Pro models, but with a few obvious changes. The cameras are much improved, with a new 48MP quad-pixel Wide sensor that takes more detailed 12MP images and allows for a 2x optical zoom. You can even take 48 megapixel images in ProRAW format. The Ultra-Wide sensor is larger and should be better in low light, too. And all cameras use the new Photonic Engine processing that improves quality.
It’s got the same improved front camera as the iPhone 14, but that’s not what you’ll notice. It’s the new Dynamic Island that will catch your eye. This is the little pill-shaped cutout where the front camera and sensors reside, but Apple has worked some design magic to turn it into a dynamic, responsive, animated area for alerts, background tasks, and notifications. It’s one of the slickest iPhone interface tricks we’ve seen in a long time.
The display supports an always-on mode, dimming your lock screen image and displaying your time, widgets, and Live Activities (those live notifications coming in an iOS 16 update). It gets much brighter too,, up to 1,600 nits in HDR content and 2,000 nits outdoors.
There’s a new A16 processor that uses a new 4nm manufacturing process, but it sounds a lot like the A15 with more flexibility for higher clock speeds. The display engine and image signal processor are new, though, all to support the new always-on display and camera system. Apple says the battery life should be even better than the iPhone 13 Pro (29 hours of video playback versus 28 hours).
Together with the iPhone 14 lineup is a neat new safety feature and service that lets you connect directly to a satellite to send emergency texts. It can take a bit of time, so Apple created a whole interface and technology to keep the data on your emergency texts short and help you keep your iPhone pointed at the satellite long enough to send the message.
This is a paid service, though Apple didn’t say how much it would cost. You’ll get two years of it free with every iPhone 14, though (all models, standard or Pro). It’s an awesome safety feature, but it’s definitely not the same thing as being able to use satellites to call or text freely.
Apple also spent a bit of time on the benefits of eSIM rather than physical SIM cards. All iPhone 14 models will support dual eSIMs and in the US, the phones will not even come with a SIM tray. This is likely to cause some confusion at first, though all major US carriers and nearly every MVNO now supports eSIM.