It’s that time of year again when tech lovers tune in to the fall Apple Event and salivate over their latest innovations. Tim Cook kicked off the virtual preview on September 15 by talking about how inspiring it is to see how people adapted to COVID-19, and how the company feels a responsibility to “continue making products that enrich people’s lives in meaningful ways.” The tech giant is poised to do just that with products, services and updates that focus on some of our most precious assets: time, family and perhaps most relevant, health. (Bonus: Some of the most exciting new Apple products and services are available at more accessible price points than ever.)
Here’s what’s new from Apple including the latest in Apple Watch and iPad, and the new Fitness+ subscription service.
Apple Watch Series 6
This watch is seriously revolutionary. The all-new Series 6 maintains the majority of the same features from Series 5, but with an even greater focus on health and impressive new hardware improvements to look out for. From better sleep tracking, Family Setup (which now allows family members *without* an iPhone benefit from connectivity), and even automatic hand-washing detection that initiates a 20-second countdown, this watch was definitely made for these ~unprecedented~ times.
Series 6 also comes with a new dual-core processor based on the A13 Bionic from the iPhone 11, which is optimized for Apple Watch, and a S6 System in Package (SiP) which makes apps run 20% faster than the previous model while maintaining its 18-hour battery life. It also comes with a new sensor that measures the user’s blood oxygen saturation, whether the user is active or asleep, in only 15 seconds. A person’s blood oxygen saturation is related to how well oxygenated blood is travelling throughout the user’s body and provides insight on your overall health, and even flags a potential COVID-19 symptom.
On top of that, Apple has announced that they’re conducting three new studies with various health research organizations and universities, including the University of Toronto, to improve Apple Watch’s health features and potentially be able to track early signs of respiratory conditions like COVID-19.
Other notable features: The aforementioned Family Setup, not to mention the enhanced Always-On display which makes it easier for users to see the watch face in bright sunlight, and Fitness+, a new personalized fitness experience (more on that later).
Design: The new Series 6 will come in silver, space grey and a few *new* case colours including blue, red and gold stainless steel. Apple is also introducing an ultra light Solo Loop band that eliminates buckles or straps and comes in soft silicone or braided yarn.
Price: Series 6 with GPS starts at $529 CAD, and Series 6 with GPS + Cellular starts at $659 CAD
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Apple Watch SE
Just like the iPhone, the Apple Watch now comes in a relatively more affordable option: Meet the Apple Watch SE. Packed with essential Apple Watch features like the same always-on altimeter in Apple Watch Series 6, plus the latest motion sensors and microphone, the SE is a great entry point for new users.
Other notable features: Advanced Retina display, a S5 System in Package (SIP) and dual-core processor that delivers fast performance up to two times faster than Apple Watch Series 3, enhanced fitness features that can detect elevation changes when you’re working out, and Family Setup.
Design: The Apple Watch SE case features slim borders and curved corners and is 30% larger than Series 3. It will also come in three case finishes made of 100% recycled aluminum, which will be compatible with all Apple Watch bands.
Price: Apple Watch SE with GPS starts at $369 CAD, and Apple Watch SE with GPS + Cellular starts at $429 CAD
The eighth-generation iPad features the A12 Bionic chip, which delivers 40% faster CPU performance and enhanced graphics. This new iPad is also designed to be environmentally friendly. It uses 100% recycled aluminum enclosure, 100% recycled tin for its main logic board, wood fibre packaging, and is energy efficient. This supports Apple’s goal of being completely carbon neutral by 2030, and we absolutely love that for the planet.
Other notable features: The eight-generation iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display and iPadOS 14, which includes a new compact design for FaceTime and regular calls, new sidebars, redesigned widgets, large Multi-Touch display, further integration of the Apple Pencil which makes note-taking easier by detecting handwritten text, and more.
Design: The new iPad will come in silver, space grey,and gold finishes.
Price: $429 CAD for the Wi-Fi model, and $599 CAD for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model
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The all-new iPad Air comes with the A14 Bionic, Apple’s most advanced chip to date. It also features a new all-screen design, a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, and a next-generation Touch ID sensor integrated into the top button to provide secure authentication. Like the eight-generation iPad, the iPad Air uses 100% recycled aluminum enclosure and 100% recycled tin for its main logic board. It’s also energy-efficient and uses wood fibre packaging.
Other notable features: An upgraded camera featuring a 7MP front-facing FaceTime camera and 12MP rear camera, stereo speakers in landscape mode, USB-C connector instead of lighting, and iPadOS 14.
Design: Borrowing the same sleek features as the iPad Pro, the new iPad Air is now completely redesigned and will come in silver, space grey, rose gold, green (my personal fave), and sky blue.
Price: $779 CAD for the Wi-Fi model and $949 CAD for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model
More exciting Apple updates
Communication will look slightly different on iOS 14. Say goodbye to full-screen calls (see you never!) because a new compact call display that *just* appears at the top of the screen is finally here. We will also be getting a new picture in picture feature so we can use other apps while FaceTiming, and we can *finally* directly respond to specific messages on iMessage group chats (a feature available on WhatsApp and Facebook Chat). The new iOS 14 also includes redesigned widgets for the home screen and a new App Library that changes how we organize our apps.
You can now get Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, iCloud and more in just one simple subscription plan. Price starts at $15.95 CAD per month for Individual which includes 50GB of iCloud storage, $20.95 CAD per month for Family (can be shared up to six family members) which includes 200GB of iCloud storage, and $33.95 CAD per month for Premier (can be shared up to six family members) which includes 2TB of iCloud storage.
This app built for the Apple Watch features access to diverse studio-style workouts from HIIT, yoga, dance, core and more to follow on iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, and is perfect for our current home workout reality. During your workout, metrics like your heart rate or countdown timer can also be shown on the screen. The price starts at $12.99 CAD per month and $99.99 CAD per year.
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What are the biggest differences between the Apple Series 6 vs. SE?
The new health features on Apple Series 6 (like the Blood Oxygen app) won’t be available in SE. Series 6 will also come with the latest S6 dual-core processor, while the SE will have the S5 dual-core processor. (Translation: Series 6 apps will load even faster than the already-fast SE.)
What’s the best bang for your buck?
The Apple Watch SE and iPad Air! As someone who’s never owned or really cared for an Apple Watch before, I’m seriously considering taking the plunge with the SE. For $200 less, you can get all of the essential features the Apple Series 6 has to offer.
While the eight-generation iPad is cheaper, I personally feel like the iPad Air is a better pickup. The A14 Bionic is definitely a huge selling point and it has a lot of features from the iPad Pro. Also, I think it’s time for me to retire my very old school iPad Mini 2.
And the big question: Where is the iPhone 12?
Sorry to disappoint, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a little while longer for the iPhone 12. But it might not be *too* long: tech experts are predicting that the launch will be coming next month. Fingers crossed!