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Apple Apple Watch Review Technology

Apple Watch Series 6: A Review

From time to time, new product lines are announced by a company. In September of 2014 Apple announced a whole new product line, the Apple Watch. It took a bit more than six months until the first Apple Watch was released, but it did arrive in April of 2015.

When it was introduced the Apple Watch was positioned as a replacement for the iPhone, however that is not the focus of the Apple Watch today. Recently, Apple announced new watch, The Apple Watch Series 6.

Each year I have purchased a new Apple Watch and I have always purchased the Space Gray aluminum model. For the first Apple Watch through the Apple Watch Series 4, I ordered it with the Black Sport Band. With the Apple Watch Series 5, I ordered the Anchor Gray Sport Loop.

The reason I ordered the Gray Sport Loop was because I purchased and reviewed the Black Sport Loop and I liked the Sport Loop. Apple no longer sold the Black Sport Loop, so I went with something as close as I could. Therefore, I ordered the Apple Watch with the Anchor Gray Sport Loop. If they would have had the Black Sport Loop, I would have ordered that.

When the Apple Watch Series 6 was announced it was available for ordering that day and would begin arriving on September 18th. I ordered an Apple Watch Series 6. As mentioned above, I have always ordered the Aluminum Space Gray, but this year I have done something a bit different. Instead of getting the standard Aluminum Space Gray, I went with the Aluminum Space Gray Nike Apple Watch.

Specifically, I ordered the Space Gray Nike Watch with the Anthracite/Black Nike Sport Band. Along with this, I also ordered a Nike Black Sport Loop, as well as one of the new Black Sport Loop. All of this provides me a couple of new areas to review. The areas that I will review are:

  • Series 6 Watch
  • Sport Bands
  • Sport Loops
  • Solo Loop

Each of these will be looked at in turn starting with the Series 6 Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 6

If you were to upgrade your Apple Watch year over year, as I have done, you will only see incremental updates over the previous year. However, if you upgrade from an older model, you might notice significant changes. Each new Apple Watch has some change that goes along with it. Typically, these updates are hardware. The Apple Watch Series 6 is no exception. The biggest feature of the Apple Watch Series 6 is a new sensor for testing your blood oxygen levels.

Blood Oxygen

The Apple Watch Series 6 has a new sensor that allows you to determine the amount of oxygen within your blood. This is done by shining a bright infrared light through your skin. The amount of reflected light that is reflected back is put through an algorithm that will determine how much oxygen is in your blood.

The way that you test your blood oxygen is by opening up the “Blood Oxygen” app. When you open up the Blood Oxygen app you will be presented with an animation. Additionally, you will see the last time that your blood oxygen was taken and the recorded ratio. You can start measuring your blood oxygen by tapping on the “Start” button.

The test will take 15 seconds. In order to get the best results, you will want to rest your wrist on a table or flat surface. This is because movement can cause the test to be inconclusive and not be able to be taken. Furthermore, it is best to not tap your fingers, because this can also cause the test to not be able to be done properly.

The result that you will get is a percentage.Obviously, the higher the percentage, the more oxygen that is present in your blood. A majority of individuals have a level between 95% and 100%. There are those who may have a lower blood oxygen level.

Blood Oxygen levels are not only recorded when you take the test. They are also performed in the background, particularly while you are sleeping. All of your tests are stored in the Health app. You can get to this data by performing the following steps:

  1. Open the Health App.
  2. Tap on the “Summary” tab.
  3. At the bottom of “Favorites” tap on “Show All Health Data”.
  4. Scroll down to “Blood Oxygen”.
  5. Tap on “Blood Oxygen” to open up the Blood Oxygen data.

Here you will see a standard Health data chart with the Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly options. You can also select any of the options at the bottom, which will highlight the necessary information or a line to the graph so you can see the variations throughout the day.

The Blood Oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch Series 6 is a nice addition for users to be able to add one additional data point to their health records. Apple is very cautious when it comes to health-related items, and it makes sense to be cautious. The data from the blood oxygen sensor will help users, and their physicians, have a record of blood oxygen levels and can help should any issues arise in the future. Let us now turn to a couple of other hardware changes.

Other Hardware Changes

The Apple Watch Series 6 has a coupe lot other hardware-specific items. With each new version of the Apple Watch, there is a new chip that powers the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch Series 6 has an S6 chip. The S6 Chip has some new features which are not present on the S4 and S5. The S6 has an always-on Altimeter.

The always on Altimeter will allow you to see your current altitude above sea level. You can add a complication to your Apple Watch face so you can see your current altitude. This is great addition particularly if you are on a hike that will bring you up or down a hill with significant change in elevation.

Another new feature of the S6, which does not have much usage right now, is the inclusion of the U1, which is Apple’s ultra Wideband chip. The U1 is present in the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The U1 is used for spatial awareness, which currently only used with Air Drop. It might be used for other features in the future though.

The U1 chip is capable of allowing you to communicate between devices that are local. There are other ways of communicating. One feature that the Apple Watch has had since the first version is the ability to connect to the Apple Watch to Wifi. Every Apple Watch has had the ability to connect via Wifi, except this is only able to use the 2.4GHz spectrum. For most uses this is acceptable, however the 2.4GHz Wifi can be quite crowded and a crowded

The last hardware change is the screen. The Apple Watch Series 6 has a brighter screen. According to Apple it is 2.5x brighter while in sunlight. With previous models it may have been difficult to see the items on your watch face while using your watch in direct sunlight. This should be reduced with the Series 6. An additional change with the Series 6 Apple Watch, which has not necessarily been mentioned by other reviews. While your wrist is down you are now able to access complications

Nike Watch Specific Features

This year I ended up getting a Nike Apple Watch Series 6. The reason for this was two fold. First, I have actually wanted to get the Nike version of the Apple Watch just to see what the differences were. It is not likely that I will use the Nike specific features, like the Nike Run Club, but I still want to see the differences.

The second reason is that it was available for release day delivery. I had not gotten any of the Nike models in the past is because they were not usually available until two weeks after the other models. I generally like to have the devices the day they are released, so I just always got the standard model. This year though, the Nike version was available for release day delivery, so I opted for that model.

The Nike Apple Watch Series 6 does not have any hardware difference from the standard Apple Watch. Instead, the changes are only software related. There are a couple of specific differences.

The first software change is that when you look at the settings within the Watch app on your iPhone, you will see a new option, the “Nike Run Club” app. This is a direct shortcut to install the app. If you do not have it installed, you are able to install it with a single tap.

The biggest change software change is the inclusion of Nike-specific Apple Watch faces. There are a variety of unique watch faces that are not present on the standard Apple Watch. The additional watch faces available are:

  • Nike Compact
  • Nike Hybrid
  • Nike Analog
  • Nike Digital

Nike Compact

The Nike Compact Watch Face allows you to have three complications and a clock. The three different complication spots are Top, Middle, and Bottom. These are small, small, and large complications respectively.

The clock is in the upper right corner and can be either an analog clock or a digital one. For the analog clock, there are two different options. One of the analog faces has large numerals for 12, 3, 6, and 9. The hour, minute, and second hands will sweep around the clock face. The second analog watch face only has the watch hands, and is two tones. The upper portion is one color and the bottom portion is another color.

With the Nike Compact face you have an option for selecting the color of the face, just as you would with other watch faces. There are 27 different color options. You have 13 different sets, that all match the various Nike Watch bands. As an example, one of the sets is Pure Platinum/Black. With this color option the clock face color will be Platinum, as will the tint for all of your complications also being Platinum. The color of the digits of the analog and digits of the clock will be black. If you choose Black/Pure Platinum, the background of the clock face switches and the color of the digits will flip. This is the same for all of the other 24 colors. There is one last color option, Multicolor. This color will show your complications in color and the clock faces will be the same as Platinum/Black.

Nike Hybrid

The Nike Hybrid watch face has the same three options for the clock. However, each clock face has two options for the dial itself, Rectangle or Circle. The Rectangle option does not have any room for complications. However, the Circle option allows for five complication options. Four of these options are the ones around the outside corners. The fifth option is along the top of the dial.

As is the case with the Nike Compact watch face, you have a variety of choices for color options. There are 40 different options. It does not make sense to list all of the possible combinations. However, many of the colors have three options. As an example there is Obsidian Mist/Black, Black/Obsidian Mist, and just Obsidian Mist. The last item listed is a single color but with two different shades of the color. There are some color options that do not have this last choice. Anthricite/Black and Lime Blast/Black are only available in the two choices. Let us turn to the next Nike Watch Face, Nike Analog.

Nike Analog

The Nike Analog provides places for three complications. These are in the top left, top right, and bottom. The top left and top right that are small complications while the bottom is just a line of text.

You can choose amongst four different styles of analog watch face. Style 1 does not have any numbers, just indicators. Style 2 had small numbers for hours 12, 3, 6, and 9. Style 3 has small numbers for hours 12, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 19. Style 4, the last style, has the standard large numbers for hours 12, 3, 6, and 9.

There are 35 different color choices, 32 of these are solid colors. While three of these, White/Volt, White/Red, and Rainbow provide multiple color options for the watch face.

Nike Digital

The Nike Digital Watch Face has the time in large font along the left and three complications. The complication locations are Middle Left, Bottom Left, and Bottom. The Middle Left and Middle Right options allow you to select a small complication. Just like the Nike Analog, the “bottom” option will allow a complication that is a line of text.

There are three style choices, Solid, Two-Tone, and Outline. The Solid style will display the time with a solid fill color. The Two-Tone option will show the hour with a solid fill and the minutes will have an outline. The Outline style will display both the hour and minute in an outline.

There are a number of different options for the Nike Digital face, 32 to be exact. 30 of these are solid colors, and there are two dual-color choices. The two dual-color choices are Volt/White and Red/White. If you select one of these dual-tone colors, the displayed time will appear white and the complications will be either Volt or Red, depending on your choice.

All of the Nike Watch Faces offer a unique style and option for your Apple Watch which can help differentiate your watch from other Apple Watches. Now that we have covered all of the Nike-specific watch faces, let us look at various bands for the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Bands

Not everything is a “one size fits all” type of situation. People like the ability to customize things and the Apple Watch is designed to be a fashion item. While there are plenty of ways to customize the watch face, not everyone may notice this. However, others may notice if you are wearing a specific Watch Band. Watch Bands are an easy way to customize the look and feel of your Apple Watch. There are a number of Apple Watch Bands, as well as many third-party bands available. One thing that has remained the same throughout all of the generations of the Apple Watch is that bands that were purchased early in the lifespan of the Apple Watch may work with the newest watches, provided you are using the same size watch.

For instance, if you bought the 38mm Apple Watch Series 2 and bought a 40mm Apple Watch Series 5, the watch bands should, for the most part, work with both watches. However, if you bought a 38MM Apple Watch Series 2, but then got the 44MM Apple Watch Series 5, the bands would not work between the two models, due to the size differences. Let us look at some of the available bands from Apple and the differences between the standard models and the Nike models. Then we will look at a brand new band from Apple.

Sport Bands

The sport sand has been around since the first Apple Watch was released. Until the Series 4, the default band was the sport band. The sport band is made of Fluoroelastomer. Fluoroelastomer is a rubber product. The sport band is designed to be comfortable and used all day. The fact that the sport band is rubber, it is odor resistant.

The sport band can be worn while swimming, exercising, or any other activity. Due to its ability to be done doing just about any activity, it means that its designed to stand up to use. Even though, by its very name, it is usable in sports, it means that it is designed to be cleaned. The sport band can be cleaned with mild soap and water.

The Nike Sport Band is similar to the standard sport band. The biggest difference between the two, outside of the available colors, is that the Nike Sport Band has additional holes along the left and right side of the central holes. The additional holes are designed to help wick away sweat and provides a bit more air around your wrist.

The Nike Sport Band that came with my Apple Watch Series 6, it is my first time using the Nike version of the sport band. The Nike Sport Band is a pretty good band and just like the standard sport band.

With the additional holes, you technically can use any of the other holes, but then you would have to bend the sport band a bit to get the clasp to fit into the clasp where the excess Since the sport band is two pieces, you can mix and match them. So you can mix and match the parts of the bands, which can allow you to create your own design.

You might expect that all sport bands are the same. However, they are not. The Nike Sport Band feels just a tad bit lighter weight than the regular sport band. This makes sense given that there is less material than the standard sport band. If you are using the Nike Sport Band for exercise, being able to have a lighter band can help make exercising a bit nicer.

The sport band, no matter which specific model, is the standard band and a great overall band to use with the Apple Watch. The various holes allow each person to adjust it to their wrist, but the preset holes can result in some people not getting the exact fit they need. Let us turn to a slightly different take on the Sport Band to a band that has been around for a while, the Sport Loop.

Sport Loops

The Sport Loops are made of two layers of woven nylon. The sport loop uses a hook and loop fastener that will keep the band classed. The hook and loop mechanism allows for the Apple Watch to easily be removed and put on. Additionally, the sport loop band allows you to fit the band even better than other bands, because you can adjust it to the size you need.

There is only one subtle difference between the standard Sport Loop and the Nike Sport Loop, and that difference is that the Nike Sport Loop includes reflective nylon that is woven throughout the band. This is designed to be reflective when light is shown on the band. This is particularly useful for those who exercise when the light may not be the best. While you will likely have other items to indicate your presence, like neon clothing, a head lamp, or flashing light, it is one more item that will allow vehicles and others to see your while exercising.

After a year of usage, and even with regular cleaning, the Sport loop can accumulate odors. Apple indicates that you can clean the sport loops with water and a lint-free cloth, but this does not work in practice. Instead, you may want to let the band soak with a touch of soap for a while. Once the band is soaked, a light scrubbing may help with the cleaning to remove the odors. Another possible option, which may sound strange, is to shower with your watch band. The soap that you use should help a bit as well. Plus, the Apple Watch can certainly handle getting wet in the shower.

Overall, the sport loop is a lightweight band that is much easier to take off and put on than the sport loop. Over time, the clasping mechanism does seem to reduce the strength of the clasping mechanism. So this is something to keep in mind.

The Sport Loop is probably one of the more comfortable bands and the infinite adjustability allows the band to be versatile as band that can be used throughout the day and that you can adjust throughout the day, if needed. Next, let us look at one of the newest additions to the selection of Apple Watch Bands, the Solo Loop.

Solo Loop

The Solo Loop is a new type of Apple Watch Band. The Solo Loop is compatible with the Series 4 and newer. The Solo Loop is a single piece band that is made with silicone rubber. This is similar to the fluoroelastomer of the Sport Band.

The Sport Loop does not have any clasps, buckles, or any sort of mechanism that allows for adjustment. So it is important to choose the proper size. Apple has a printable tool to be able to help size the Solo Loop. If you visit an Apple Store, you may be able to obtain one.

The Sport Loop comes in one of twelve sizes, 1 to 12. Sizes 1 to 8 are available for the 40mm Apple Watch, and sizes 4 to 12 are available for the 44mm. The difference between each size of the Sport Loop band is very little, hence why there are a bunch of different sizes.

There are actually two methods for the tool. The first is to print out an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, cut out the measurement tool, and then wrap it around your wrist to determine the proper band size. The second method is to use a piece of paper and a measuring tape. You measure from the end of the paper to the point where the paper matches the end. Once you have this, you can then enter in the length into Apple’s conversion tool, which on the page, and it will provide you with the proper band size.

I tried both methods. First, I used the tape measure approach and it said it could either be a size 8 or a size 9. I then tried with the print-out and it said 8. With the physical measuring tool from the Apple Store, it would be between 7 and 8.

It is important to make sure that you have the correct size. Having a Sport Loop that is too loose will not allow the watch to sit properly on your wrist. You may be able to get a Sport Loop that is one size larger than what the tool indicates. When I did the measurement with Apple’s tool, it indicated that I was a size 8. I was able to order one for pickup at my local Apple Store.

When I opened the package, and put the Sport Loop on my Apple Watch, it seemed like it might be too small, but once I put on my Apple Watch, it did fit, although it was a bit loose. I would probably be better with a size 7, but the size 8 that I have does fit. Even though the Sport Loop is a bit loose, it is not too loose that it stops the Apple Watch from functioning. Furthermore, if the Sport Loop was too loose, the Apple Watch would lock because it lost contact with the skin. So far, I haven to experienced that.

While having a Sport Loop that is too loose could be a problem, you also do not want a super tight band either. This is for a few of reasons. The first is that a band that is too tight can cut off circulation and would be quite uncomfortable. The size of ones wrist can change over time depending on my factors, including but not limited to, heat, hydration levels, and just natural body cycles. The second reason is that if the band is too tight, the blood oxygen sensor will not work properly.

There is one last item to note about the Solo Loop. According to its support document for Apple Watch bands, quote:

If you have a Solo Loop or Braided Solo Loop, the band size should be comfortable, but snug against your wrist. Simply pull from the bottom of the band to stretch it over your wrist when you put it on and take it off. Solo Loop may increase in length over time.

I would guess that this may take some time to occur, but it is something to be cognizant of when purchasing a Solo Loop.

Overall, the Sport Loop is a pretty good band and a great addition to the various bands available for the Apple Watch. The lack of a clasp is nice, however its biggest downside is that you need to get the size correct. The only problem will be finding the right fit. If you have an Apple Store nearby, you can see if they have a measuring tool and you can get the proper size. The Sport Loop comes in a variety of colors. The available options are:

  • Deep Navy
  • Ginger
  • Cyprus Green
  • Pink Citrus
  • White
  • Black
  • PRODUCT(RED)

Closing Thoughts

Overall the Apple Watch Series 6 is a solid upgrade, provided that you are upgrading from certain Apple Watches. If you have an Original Apple Watch, a Series 1, 2, or 3, and you are looking to upgrade, the Apple Watch Series 6 is a worthwhile upgrade. However, if you have an Apple Watch Series 4, the new Blood Oxygen sensor and speed increase may be enough to persuade you to upgrade. For Apple Watch Series 5 owners, the only changes are the inclusion of the Blood Oxygen sensor. For some, and particular during these times, it may be a worthwhile upgrade.

With the Series 6 being my first Nike edition of the Apple Watch, it is different to see the distinct Nike Watch Faces in person. I am not sure if I will end up using them on a daily basis, because I do like my Apple Watch to be a mini computer on my wrist, where I can quickly glance at information and the Nike Watch Faces do not allow the breadth of complications on the watch faces. The best part though, is that the Nike Apple Watch does not restrict you to using just the Nike Watch Faces, but you can use any of the Watch Faces that are included in watchOS.

Customizing your Apps Watch face is huge, but a lot of people may not see your watch face unless you show them specifically. What many others can see though, is the Watch Band that is attached to your Apple Watch. There are a variety of bands available. The newest one, the Solo Loop is a great choice if you do not want to use a clasp of any sort. The biggest downside to the Solo Loop is that you need to get the size exactly correct, otherwise it may end up being too tight or too loose. There is one last thing to note, if you purchase an Apple Watch Series 6, or an Apple Watch SE, with the Solo Loop and the Solo Loop is the wrong size, you may have to wait for a replacement, because they are popular.

The differences between the standard Sport Band, and the Nike Sport Band, as well as the standard Sport Loop, and the Nike Sport Loop are very minimal. The Nike Sport Band feels a bit lighter than the standard Sport Band. The lighter weight of the Nike Sport Band is due to the band not having as much material. The only difference with Nike Sport Loop, as compared to the original, is that the Nike version has reflective threads woven in so that in the dark vehicles are able to identify that there is someone there.

I am not sure if I will end up settling on a single band. I do like the Sport Loops due to their overall comfort and adjustability, but the Solo Loop is also quite comfortable and can allow me to easily rest my wrist anywhere without worrying about a clasp. I guess only time will tell which one, or ones, I end up using the most.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is quite popular and some models have longer lead times than others. If you are planning on getting one for the holidays, ordering now is prudent. The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399 for the 40mm GPS model, and $429 for the 42mm model. You can add cellular for $100 more on either size.

You can read a lot more about watchOS 7 in my book, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 for Users and Developers. It is available on Apple, Amazon, for $3.99 each, as a black & white paperback for $14.99 or a color paperback for $39.99.

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Apple “Time Flies” Event Recap

Apple held its “Time Files” event livestream event today. It was not a live event, but a pre-recorded one. The style of the video was very similar to that of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. We saw different parts of Apple’s campus with different people in each area. Today’s event focused on two products, the Apple Watch and the iPad. Let us look at what Apple announced for each.

Apple Watch

Today Apple announced two new Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. These two models are similar, yet still different. Let us cover the aspects that are the same between the two models.

Common Features between Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE

There are a number of common features between the new Apple Watch Series 6 and the new Apple Watch SE. The first of these is the case sizes. Both come in 40mm and 44mm varieties and both have a Retina screen. Next is a feature that was added in the Apple Watch Series 5, fall detection. This is a great feature for those who may be prone to falling and need to be able to contact someone in the event of a fall. This is present in both models.

There is a new feature that is available on both models, a new Always On Altimeter. The Altimeter will be able to inform you, in real time, of your elevation. This is great if you are doing some hiking and want to see how high up you have gone.

One of the ways to personalizes the Apple Watch is by picking the finish for the watch. Both models come in an aluminum finish and are available in Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold.

Apple Watch Series 6 Exclusive Features

The biggest area for the Apple Watch is regarding Health. There are a variety of sensors already present on the Apple Watch. Sensors like the ECG, fall detection, heart sensors, and ECG app. There is a new sensor being added to the Apple Watch Series 6, a Blood Oxygen app. This app will be able to inform you of your blood oxygen level, with a simple 15 second test. This is possibly through the use of infrared to analyze the color of your blood and the color can determine the oxygen saturation level.

The Apple Watch Series 6 comes in more than just the three colors mentioned above. It also comes in two additional aluminum finishes, Blue and (PRODUCT)RED. It also comes in Stainless Steel and Titanium versions. The Stainless Steel color choices are Silver, Graphite, and Gold. The Titanium color choices are Titanium (Silver), and Space Black.

New Bands

Besides the finish of the Apple Watch, many also customize their Apple Watch through the use of different bands. To go with the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE, there are some new bands. A lot of them in fact. There are some new Hermes Fauve Barénia Leather Attelage bands in both single tour and double tour varieties, five new Sport Band colors, seven new Sport Loop colors, three new Nike Sport Band colors, and three new Nike Sport Loop colors. There are also two entirely new types of bands, the Leather Link and Solo Loop.

Leather Link

Apple Watch Leather Link Watch Band

According to Apple, “The Leather Link features handcrafted Roux Granada leather made in France. The band elegantly wraps around the wrist and magically attaches with flexible molded magnets that gently flex to help maintain a secure, comfortable fit throughout the day.”. The magnetic links will allow you to adjust the band to the perfect fit for your wrist.

The Leather Link band comes in four colors, Baltic Blue, California Poppy, Saddle Brown, and Black. These will work with the 38/40mm or the 42/44mm Apple Watches. Each Leather Link band is $99. They have a bit of a wait time, anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the model.

Solo Loop

The Solo Loop is made of a silicone rubber that is designed to stretch. There are no clasps, buckles, or any other item to adjust. Each Sport Loop is designed to be slipped on and off the wrist easily. Because there are no attachment mechanisms, they are designed to fit on your wrist, therefore there is a sizing guide that will allow you to determine the proper band size. The band sizes range from 1 to 9 on the 40mm Apple Watch and 4 to 12 on the 44mm Apple Watch.

There are seven different color options. These options are: Deep Navy, Ginger, Cypress Green, Pink Citrus, White, Black, and (PRODUCT)RED. Each of these is $49 and they will begin arriving on Friday. There is a second type of Solo Loop, the Braided Solo Loop.

To quote Apple, “Each Braided Solo Loop features a unique, stretchable design that’s ultracomfortable and easy to slip on and off your wrist. Made from 100 percent recycled materials, the 16,000 polyester yarn filaments in each band are interwoven with thin silicone threads using advanced braiding machinery then laser cut to an exact length. The 300D construction offers a soft, textured feel and is both sweat-resistant and water-resistant.”

The Braided Sport Loop comes in five colors. These colors are: Inverness Green, Black, Pink Punch, Atlantic Blue, and (PRODUCT)RED. The Braided Sport Loop comes in the same size configurations as the silicon Sport Loop, and these are $99 each.

There is one last thing to note about the Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop. These are not compatible with all watches. The Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop bands are only compatible with Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 or newer. Therefore, you will not be able to use these on the Series 3, or earlier models.

Family Setup

There is one new feature for the Apple Watch, which is compatible back to the Apple Watch Series 4 and that is Family Setup. There are many people who would like to be able to get an Apple Watch for the child or an elderly parent. This has not been possible because an Apple Watch has to be paired with an iPhone. That changes.

Family Setup allows you to setup another Apple Watch using your iPhone. When you do this, the Apple Watch will be independent and allow the Apple Watch to function on its own.

Family Setup makes it possible for the entire family to benefit from the important health and safety features of Apple Watch, like Emergency SOS, while Maps, Siri, Alarms, and the App Store provide greater independence without needing an iPhone. In addition, parents will have peace of mind knowing they can reach their child and identify their location, and that all personal data stays securely encrypted. With watchOS 7, the whole family can also take advantage of optimized features that enhance the overall Apple Watch experience.

There are a couple of limitations for the Family Setup. The first is that a cellular version of the Apple Watch is required. This will not work on a GPS model of the Apple Watch. The second restriction is that this only works on the Apple Watch Series 4 or later, including the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch Pricing and Availability

The price of the Apple Watch is an important one. The existing Apple Watch Series 3 is still available for the same starting price of $199. The new Apple Watch SE is $279 for the 40mm version, and $309 for the 44mm. There are cellular options for the Apple Watch SE, these are $329 for the 40mm and $359 for the 44mm. The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at the same price as the Series 5, $399 for the 40mm, and $429 for the 44mm. The cellular models are $499 and $529 respectively. The Stainless Steel models starts at $699 and the Titanium models start at $799. All of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE are available for order today and will start arriving this Friday.

There is one last thing to note about the Apple Watch. the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple Watch Nike do not include a power adapter. Note, this is not the charger, but the little power brick that the charger plugs into. This is being done as a means of helping the environment. I believe that this is actually the case. It just so happens that it will also help save a bit of money, not just through not having to put a charger in each box, but also by reducing packaging as well as shipping weight. All of this adds up over millions of devices.

iPad

The Apple Watch was not the only item announced during today’s keynote. The iPad also saw some updates as well, but not all models of iPad. Only the iPad and the iPad Air were updated today. Let us look at each of these.

iPad

The iPad is Apple’s entry-level device, but even though it is entry level, it is full of features. The new iPad features a 10.2-inch LED screen as well as Apple’s A12 Bionic chip. This is the same one that is in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max phones. To quote Apple:

The eighth-generation iPad with the A12 Bionic chip delivers a huge leap in performance, with 40 percent faster CPU performance and twice the graphics capability.2 This makes the new iPad up to two times faster than the top-selling Windows laptop, up to three times faster than the top-selling Android tablet and up to six times faster than the top-selling Chromebook. For the first time on iPad, A12 Bionic introduces the Neural Engine for next-level machine learning capabilities, including people occlusion and motion tracking in augmented reality (AR) apps, enhanced photo editing, Siri performance, and more.

In combination with A12 Bionic, the power of iPadOS, and Apple Pencil (1st generation), the new iPad is perfect for drawing, note-taking, marking up documents, and more. With its thin and light design, iPad is portable and durable with ultra-fast wireless performance, support for gigabit-class LTE connectivity, and all-day battery life, giving customers the freedom to work, learn, and connect at home or on the go. With Touch ID, unlocking iPad is simple and secure using just a finger, to keep important information safe.

The biggest change, besides the processor and graphics, is that the iPad is now USB-C. Included in the box is a USB-C to lightning adapter and a 20 watt USB-C power brick.

The iPad comes in the same three colors as before, Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold. It comes with 32GB or 128GB of storage, and there are cellular models as well. The price is still the same at $329 for the 32GB Wifi model, and $459 for the 32GB Wifi + Cellular, and $429 for the 128GB Wifi and $559 for the 128GB Wifi + Cellular models. These are available for order today and will arrive starting this Friday.

iPad Air

The bigger of the announcements is the iPad Air. This is not only because it is changed significantly more, but also because of the size difference. The 4th generation iPad Air is now a 10.9-inch model. This is accomplished by taking cues from the iPad Pro design and incorporating them into the iPad Air. The 4th Generation iPad Air has significantly reduced bezels, which allows the screen size to increase to 10.9 inches. This creates a resolution of 2360 by 1640 pixels. All of this is on a Liquid Retina LED display. The screen has a True Tone display that support the P3 Color Gamut and is fully laminated. This means that it includes the oleophobic coating to help reduce fingerprints.

All of this is driven by the A14 Bionic processor, which, according to Apple

…features a new 6-core design for a 40 percent boost in CPU performance, and a new 4-core graphics architecture for a 30 percent improvement in graphics.2 To deliver breakthrough machine learning capabilities, A14 Bionic includes a new 16-core Neural Engine that is twice as fast, and capable of performing up to 11 trillion operations per second, taking machine learning apps to a whole new level. A14 Bionic also includes second-generation machine learning accelerators in the CPU for 10 times faster machine learning calculations. This combination of the new Neural Engine, CPU machine learning accelerators, and high-performance GPU enables powerful on-device experiences for image recognition, natural language learning, analyzing motion, and more.

The iPad Air takes many cues from the iPad Air, most notably, its square edges. The square edges allow for the iPad Air to utilize the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. The iPad Air supports charging the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil right on the top edge, just like the iPad Pro. These square edges allowed Apple to reduce the bezel size. One thing that was not brought over from the iPad Pro is Face ID. Instead, the iPad Air still has Touch ID. However, the reduced bezel necessitated that the Touch ID sensor to go somewhere else. The Touch ID sensor is now moved to the top button. The Touch ID sensor still operates the same way as before, just in a different spot.

Just like the iPad, and the iPad Pro, the iPad Air now uses a USB-C port and included in the box is a USB-C charging cable and a 20-watt USB power adapter.

The 4th Generation iPad Air comes in five colors: Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue. The iPad Air comes with two storage options, 64GB or 256GB. As with the other iPads there is the Wifi-only model and Wifi + Cellular. The price for the iPad Air is $599 for the 64GB model and $749 for the 256GB Wifi-Only model. The Cellular models will cost $729 for the 64GB model and $879 for the 256GB model. The iPad Air will be available in October.

Services

Apple is pushing services, along with hardware, as their future. Currently, Apple has six different services. These services are:

  • iCloud
  • Apple Music
  • Apple TV+
  • Apple Arcade
  • Apple News+

There is a new service to go along with these. This is called Apple Fitness+.

Apple Fitness+

Apple Fitness+ is a new subscription service that will provide you the opportunity to perform workouts whenever it works for you, wherever you might be. This could be out in the park, at the gym, traveling, or just at home.

Apple Fitness+ delivers personalized recommendations to help customers quickly get to their next workout, and uses Apple Watch to provide an engaging, immersive experience to help them stay motivated throughout.Using a custom recommendation engine, Fitness+ considers previously completed workouts and intelligently suggests new options that match the workouts users select most often, or something fresh to balance their current routine. Customers can also use an intuitive filtering tool to choose what is most important to them when looking for a workout, whether it’s the workout type, the trainer, the duration, or the music. For Apple Music subscribers, favorite music from Fitness+ workouts can also be easily saved and listened to later, whether in a workout or otherwise.

Apple Fitness+ will be available later this year and it will cost $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

With all of these services, it might be nice to have them all combined into a single bill. Let us look at one last new item, called Apple One.

Apple One

Today Apple announced a new Services bundle, Apple One. Apple One is a combination of different Apple services at different price points. Apple One has three price tiers, “Individual”, “Family”, and “Premium”. The Individual and Family plans will include Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage. The Individual tier includes 50GB of iCloud Storage, whereas the Family tier includes 200GB.

The Premium tier includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, 2TB of iCloud Storage, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+. The Family and Premium tiers will allow you to share with up to five family members. If you need more iCloud storage than your plan includes, you can pay for that separately, to supplement what comes with your plan.

Closing Thoughts

Today’s event was just over an hour, but included a whole lot of new products. This includes the Apple Watch Series 6 with its brighter Always On display, the new Blood Oxygen app, and always on Altimeter. The new Blue and PRODUCT(RED) colors are great additions to the lineup.

The new Apple Watch SE is a great way for bringing many of the features of the Apple Watch in a slightly less expensive price point. You get many of the same features of the Apple Watch Series 6, but with the Series 5 processor.

The new 8th Generation iPad is a huge jump in performance with the A12 Bionic and it has USB-C. It maintains the same base price of $329 for a 32GB Wifi model.

The iPad Air has seen the biggest set of changes with a new larger 10.9-inch screen, flat sides, reduced bezels, and the all new A14 Bionic processor. The iPad Air does not get Face ID, instead the Touch ID sensor is now moved to the top button and still functions the same way as before. The 4th Generation iPad Air also supports USB-C as well as the 2nd generation Apple Pencil.

All of the new products introduced today are available for ordering today, and will be available starting on Friday. The only exception is the iPad Air, which will be available in October.

The last item to note is that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, an watchOS 7 will all be available tomorrow, September 16th.

Source: Apple Newsroom: Apple One, Apple Fitness+, Family Setup, Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, 8th Generation iPad, and 4th Generation iPad Air.

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Apple Apple Watch watchOS

Developer Changes for In-App Purchases

When Apple introduced the ability to publish apps to the iOS App Store in 2008, it was a very different landscape from what we have now. Back then you had either apps that you published for free or ones that were paid up front. Now, free apps are far more common than paid up-front apps.

In 2010, Apple introduced a new product, the iPad, which allowed for more opportunities within the App Store. With the introduction of the iPad you had two options, create a universal app, one that would work on both the iPhone and the iPad, or create two separate apps; one built for each platform.

While the possibility to build two distinct apps remained for a while, the introduction of the Apple Watch and the Apple TV have made the idea of creating distinct apps for each platform a bit harder to accomplish. The interfaces should be tailored for each platform, but the app itself would likely be shared amongst iOS and iPadOS.

Last year with the introduction of macOS Catalina, there was a new way to distribute your existing iOS apps, to macOS, through a project called Catalyst.

With free apps there are a number of different strategies for supporting free apps. These can be, ad-based, subscriptions, or in-app purchase. It has become more and more common for the latter two of these to be used. With in-app purchases, if you built an application for both iOS and macOS, using Catalyst or native frameworks, you would have to create two different in-app purchases, because they could not be shared between the platforms.

With the introduction of iOS 13.4 and macOS Catalina 10.15.4 you will

be allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once. You can choose to create a new app for these platforms using a single app record in App Store Connect or add platforms to your existing app record.

This is a huge change for the App Store and the distribution of apps in general. Users have been requesting the ability to purchase an app once and have it work on all of their devices. While this works for users, this can have some implications for developers.

Developer Implications

While the option to distribute a single application to all of the platforms is optional, it is likely something that users will quickly come to expect from developers. Yes, there are tools like Catalyst for macOS, it is still not at its full maturity in terms of having iOS apps ported to the Mac look and behave like native macOS apps that use AppKit.

This can have some ramifications for the developer. The first being that this can easily cut into profits for a developer. For larger companies, this may not be a big problem, but for the smaller independent developers this can have a huge impact.

With the pressure to make your application available on all platforms, and in-app purchases being good across all platforms, this will likely reduce the income for developers.

There are some developers who have wanted to have universal in-app purchases available because they want their users to be able to have the same experience on all platforms, plus users also question why they have to make the same purchase on multiple platforms. Therefore, this will be a great addition for both users and developers.

In-App Purchases on watchOS

Starting with watchOS 6.2, developers will be able to provide in-app purchases directly from watchOS. This will have a huge benefit to the watchOS platform as developers will not need to have users use their paired iPhone to perform in-app purchases, but instead have it possible to purchase them directly on the Apple Watch. This should provide a better experience for Apple Watch users and the in-app purchase workflow.

Closing Thoughts

While the addition of universal apps as well as universal in-app purchase will create a better experience for users, it could have some ramifications for developers in that they will be expected to support universal in-app purchase, which developers may want to do, as well as supporting universal app purchase, which may reduce their income.

I cannot say that this is not altogether unexpected, because it is something that both users and developers have been asking for for a while. It may take some time for applications to come to support universal in-app purchases as well as universal app purchases. This should be available starting with iOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.,4, tvOS 13.4, and watchOS 6.2.

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Apple Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 5: A Review

It is strange to think that only five years ago Apple introduced a whole new product line, the Apple Watch. While it was introduced in September of 2014, it was not actually available for purchase until April of 2015.

In the past almost five years, both the Apple Watch hardware, as well the accompanying software, watchOS, has seen some significant upgrades. If you owned an original Apple Watch, retroactively dubbed the Series 0, you knew that it was not exactly the fastest piece of hardware around. Besides the hardware being slow, all of the interactions relied upon the paired iPhone for communications.

If it was merely a matter of having slow hardware and slow software, it may have been tolerable, given that it was a first-generation product. However, to add even more third-party applications were very limited in what they could do even on the watch. The overall experience for the first Apple Watch was, in a word, limited.

Apple recognized this limitation by creating the Series 1 Apple Watch, which was effectively a Series 0 watch, but had double the processing power. This upgrade vastly improved the functionality. At the same time, the Apple Watch Series 2 was released. The improvements with the Series 2 included water resistance, GPS, a brighter screen, and Nike+ Editions.

The next big upgrade was with the Apple Watch Series 3 when Apple introduced a cellular option for the Apple Watch, Blush Gold, and a barometric altimeter. Last year’s Series 4 Apple Watch included a new ECG sensor, with a companion digital sensor, a whole new set of sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and a gyroscope.

Series 5

The Apple Watch Series 5 does not have nearly as many new hardware specific features that the Series 4 watch did, However, there are a couple of very welcome improvements. The improvements with the Series 5 watch include an Always On Display, a Compass, and additional storage. Let us look at each of these.

Always On Display

One of the features that traditional watches have is the ability to always see the time. This has not been available on the Apple Watch, until the Series 5. The Always On Display, is, as the name states, always on. The Always On Display was definitely not possible on the original Apple Watch, the Series 1 nor the Series 2 Apple Watch. The battery life on the Series 4 could have handled it, but it likely was not ready with the Series 4.

When you have the “Always On” display enabled a few things will happen. First, the display will always be on. Secondly, any complications that have “sensitive” data will be hidden when your wrist is down. Sensitive Data is defined as health, calendar appointments, mail, and heart rate. The reason for this is to make sure that your private information is not shown to others. In the case of Activity data, all of the rings are turned black, so the data cannot be seen.

Additionally, when your wrist is down, the size of the screen will shrink a bit and the display will dim. This allows you an easy way to recognize that the display is off. Furthermore, when your wrist is down, you are not able to take screenshots. Again, this is to protect your data.

You can disable the Always On display, if you so choose to do so. To disable the Always On display perform the following steps:

  1. On the Apple Watch,, or use the Watch app on an iPhone,. open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down “Display & Brightness”.
  3. Tap on “Display & Brightness” to open the setting.
  4. Tap on “Always On” to open the Always On setting.
  5. Tap on the “Always On” toggle to disable the “Always On” display.

If you disable the Always On display, your Apple Watch will work similarly to the Series 4, and earlier models, and the display will only be turned on when you raise your wrist.

The last change with the Always On Display, while your wrist is down, is that the screen will refresh much slower than the Series 4. In fact, the screen refresh rate may be reduced to as low as 1 Hertz. This means that the screen will refresh once per second, which should, in theory, significantly improve battery life. On the topic of battery life, let us look at that next.

Battery Life

With each subsequent version of a product, it is quite likely for the battery life to improve. This is typically done by improving efficiency, increasing battery size, or both. In the case of the Series 5, the size of the battery has increased, but not for the 44mm watch, just the 40mm one.

As alluded to above, the battery life on the Series 4 Apple Watch was absolutely tremendous. I could easily go all day without needing worry about the battery running low. Most days the battery would be at above 50%. That has not my experience with the Series 5.

While I would suspect the Series 5 to have slightly worse battery life, due to the Always On Display, my battery life has been significantly worse than the Series 4. There are some days that my 44mm Series 5 Apple Watch is down to 25% when I put it on the charger. I have not been using the Series 5 in any different manner than I did with the Series 4.

To me, this is not acceptable. Yes, there is technically enough battery life to get through the day, that is only with approximately 30 minutes of exercise. If I end up doing a longer workout this results in even less battery life remaining. If I had been running a beta, I might have expected this, but this is the release version of watchOS, so it is not that. Hopefully, Apple will be able to improve the battery life with a subsequent update. Let us look at the another new feature, the Compass.

Compass

The Compass is a brand new feature of the Series 5 Apple Watch. The Compass allows you to determine your current heading; just as a handheld compass would do. The digital compass provides more than just the current heading. You can also see the current degree of inline, elevation, latitude and longitude. Even though this is a great feature, there may be some possible issues with it.

Possible Issues

The compass is not foolproof. This is because the Compass in the Apple Watch Series 5 can be affected by any magnet. This includes magnets within Watch Bands.

Per Apple’s support page for the Compass:

The presence of magnets can affect the accuracy of any compass sensor. Apple’s Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and earlier Sport Loop watch bands use magnets or magnetic material that might interfere with the Apple Watch compass. The compass isn’t affected by Sport Loop bands introduced in September 2019, or any version of the Sport Band.

What this means is that if you have a Milanese Loop, a Leather Loop, and older Apple Watch Sport Loop, and possibly even third-party watch bands, they may interfere with the Compass on the Apple Watch. It is not guaranteed to do so, but it might cause a problem. This is something to be aware of, in case you need to rely on the Compass.

Storage

The storage for the Apple Watch has steadily increased since the original Apple Watch. For the first three generations you had 8GB of storage on the Apple Watch. If you had a Series 3 Cellular model, this was doubled to 16GB. The Series 4 made 16GB standard, and the Series 5 Apple Watch has 32GB of storage standard.

This rapid increase in storage has is great if you want to store additional media, like voice memos, music, and photos. I do not see Apple adding additional storage beyond 32GB, unless there is a significant reason to add storage. There is one last thing to cover, the included watch band.

Purchasing Experience

Apple has done something different when you purchase an Apple Watch. With the release of the Series 4 Apple Watch, you had to choose one of the pre-defined Apple Watch and Watch Band. Even if you did this, the two items would come in separate boxes. That is not the case with the Series 5. You can now pair any Apple Watch with any Apple Watch band.

This has a couple of different benefits. The first is that you can get the exact pairing that you want. This means that you can get the exact pairing of Apple Watch and band that meets your style. Additionally, this also means that you will not need to have a band that you will not end up using. This is not only good for your wallet, but also for the environment, because Apple does not have to produce an additional watch band that may just end up in the landfill. Next, let us look at the Sport Loop.

Sport Loop

I will not do a whole review of the Apple Watch Sport Loop, because I did one in 2018. Instead, I want to comment on the design of the 2019 Sport Loops.

This year Apple has gone with a two-tone color scheme for the sport loops. The sport loop that I chose this year is the Anchor Gray. In the picture this looks like a black and gray band, however when you look at it in person, it is actually two different shades of gray. The darker of the two colors is on the outside while the lighter of the two is on the inside of the band.

This is a nice look overall and I think the two-tone color scheme has a second utility, besides new colors. I think it is related to the Compass feature and allows Apple employees to easily identify the band as one that does not interfere with the Compass feature on the Series 5 Apple Watch.

Closing Thoughts

The Apple Watch Series 5 is a decent upgrade, particularly with the Always On display. While the battery life has been significantly degraded, it still does make it though the day. The battery life may improve with a software upgrade, but only time will tell on that.

The new Compass is a nice feature, particularly since it provides you with the current latitude and longitude. The new 2019 Sport Loops will not interfere with the compass, but some other bands may interfere. The additional storage that is available should come in handy if you want to load up your Apple Watch with any type of media.

If you have an original Apple Watch, a Series 1, or even a Series 2, the Apple Watch Series 5 will be a great upgrade. If you have a Series 4, it may not be necessary to upgrade, unless you absolutely must have the Always On display.

Categories
Apple Apple Watch watchOS

Apple Celebrates Heart Month 2019

Apple Watch with Activity Challenge

When you think of February it is possible that you might think of hearts. To coincide with this February is also known as Heart Month. One of the areas where Apple has set a focus on for the Apple Watch is health and fitness and in particular heart health. There are two ways that Apple is celebrating Heart Month in two different ways. The first is with the Apple Watch and the other is with Today at Apple classes.

When you think of February it is possible that you might think of hearts. To coincide with this February is also known as Heart Month. One of the areas where Apple has set a focus on for the Apple Watch is health and fitness and in particular heart health. There are two ways that Apple is celebrating Heart Month in two different ways. The first is with the Apple Watch and the other is with Today at Apple classes.

Apple Watch

Last February Apple offered a challenge for Apple Watch Activity Challenge. You were able to earn this badge by closing your exercise ring, which is 30 minutes, each day for seven days in a row. This ran from February 8th to February 14th.

This year Apple will be offering another Apple Watch Activity Challenge. It is the same challenge and runs for the same time frame, February 8th to the 14th. If you complete the challenge you will get a special badge in the Activity app. Along with the badge you will also get some stickers for Messages.

In order to receive the Activity Challenge and possibly get the stickers, you will need to be running at least iOS 12.1.3 on your iPhone and watchOS 5.1.3 on your Apple Watch.

Today at Apple

Besides the Apple Watch activity challenge with its badge and stickers. Apple will be hosting three different “Heart Health with Apple sessions at three different stores across the United States.

In recognition of Heart Month, Apple will host special Today at Apple sessions, “Heart Health with Apple,” in stores in New York, Chicago and San Francisco with celebrity fitness trainer Jeanette Jenkins, Sumbul Desai, MD, Apple’s vice president of Health, Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, Jay Blahnik, senior director of fitness for health technologies, and Julz Arney and Craig Bolton from the Apple Fitness Technologies team. Attendees will hear a discussion about heart health and participate in a new Health & Fitness Walk, which was co-created with Jeanette for participants to take a brisk walk with Apple Watch around their community.
  • San Francisco: Apple Union Square, February 11, 2019, 6 p.m.: Dr. Sumbul Desai, Jeanette Jenkins, Julz Arney
  • New York: Apple Williamsburg, February 21, 2019, 4:30 p.m.: Dr. Sumbul Desai, Jeanette Jenkins, Jay Blahnik
  • Chicago: Apple Michigan Avenue, February 27, 2019, 6 p.m.: Dr. Sumbul Desai, Nancy Brown, Jeanette Jenkins, Craig Bolton

It is not surprise that Apple is promoting health, given that one of the Apple Watch is fitness. Regardless, it is good to see Apple hosting sessions at their stores to promote heart health.

Source: Apple