Apple Watch Update Sees Modest Changes

Apple at its Wonderlust event on Tuesday evening touted the launch of its first ever carbon neutral products, when it revealed its new Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.

The event, which saw the arrival of the Apple iPhone 15 portfolio, revealed incremental upgrades to its wearable portfolio including its Watch devices and AirPods Pro.

However the event on Tuesday did not reveal a so-called ‘Apple Watch X’, a new high end device that was rumoured to include blood pressure monitoring. That device may arrive next year or 2025, in time for the tenth anniversary of the launch of the original Apple Watch in late 2014 and early 2015.

New advanced display architecture pushes the maximum brightness of Apple Watch Ultra 2 to 3000 nits.
Image credit Apple

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple began the event by focusing on on how the Apple Watch can help people’s health, and its promotional video featured a number of people who say it helped save their lives, either by detecting heart rate changes or Apple’s emergency SOS feature.

Apple has been touting the life saving capabilities of its Watch device for a while now. Last year for example it emphasised the emergency features of Apple Watch Series 8.

In early 2021 a cyclist in Herefordshire was swept off his bike and into the flooded River Wye in Rotherwas. The man was carried a mile downstream, but managed to grab hold of a branch and used his Apple Watch to dial 999 and speak to fire control at the emergency services. He was rescued within 20 minutes.

As expected the Series 9 Apple Watch only delivered a number of minor incremental upgrades, but the stand out new feature was a ‘double tap’ option for hands free interaction with the Apple Watch.

Essentially, ‘double tap’ works when Apple Watch users use their index finger and thumb to interact with their Apple Watch without ever directly touching the screen. The user simply taps their index finger and thumb together to interact with their watch, allowing for a one-handed user experience.

A quick video demo is available here.

It is is enabled by the faster Neural Engine in Apple Watch Series 9, which processes data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor with a new machine learning algorithm.

Apple also touted its new S9 chip (called S9 SiP), which the firm is describing as its most powerful processor in a watch to date.

Apple Watch Series 9 brings new capabilities to the world’s best-selling watch while achieving a significant environmental milestone.
Image credit Apple

Apple also mentioned that its Watch Series 9 has a new 4-core Neural Engine that can process machine learning tasks up to twice as fast, when compared with Apple Watch Series 8. The power efficiency of the S9 SiP allows Apple Watch Series 9 to maintain all-day 18-hour battery life, it claimed.

The battery capacity is unfortunately the same as the Series 8.

There is also a brighter display which can increase the maximum brightness of the Apple Watch Series 9 display up to 2000 nits – double that of Series 8 – making it even easier to read text in bright sunlight.

And for dark rooms or early mornings, the display can also lower to just one nit so as not to disturb people close by.

And for the first time on Apple Watch, Siri requests can be processed on device. Requests that don’t require internet connectivity, such as starting a workout or setting a timer, Siri does not rely on Wi-Fi or cellular networks, resulting in quicker and more reliable responses, Apple said.

And it said that the Neural Engine also makes dictation up to 25 percent more accurate than Apple Watch Series 8.

There is also the ability to easily find a iPhone, as the S9 SiP includes a second-generation Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip to enable Precision Finding for the iPhone 15 family, which has the same chip.

Precision Finding provides distance and direction, as well as visual, haptic, and audio guidance to a misplaced iPhone, even if it is in a different room.

And in a first for Apple, customers can choose a carbon neutral option of any Apple Watch, representing a significant milestone toward Apple 2030: Apple’s plan to be carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030.

“Apple Watch is an indispensable companion that helps millions of people with their health, fitness, communications, and safety,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

“We’re introducing our best Apple Watch lineup, with incredible new capabilities and technological advancements, including a new double tap gesture, brighter display, on-device Siri, as well as our first-ever carbon neutral products. Whether users are upgrading from earlier models or buying their first, there’s never been a more compelling time to experience Apple Watch.”

The new Apple Watch lineup can be ordered from Tuesday, with availability beginning Friday, 22 September.

The wearable comes in 41mm and 45mm sizes, with starlight, midnight, silver, red and a new pink aluminium case, as well as stainless steel in gold, silver, and graphite cases.

Select case and band combinations of Apple Watch Series 9 are Apple’s first-ever carbon neutral products.
Image credit Apple

Apple Watch Series 9 starts at £399, and Apple Watch SE starts at £219.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

There was even less changes with the new Apple Watch Ultra 2.

It comes with the new S9 chip, as well as precision finding through a new second-generation ultra wideband architecture, and a new display capable of 3,000 nits, 50 percent brighter than the first generation of Apple Watch Ultra.

It comes with the double tap gesture, and boasts the usual 36-hour battery life with regular use, and up to 72 hours in Low Power Mode.

It is made of up 95 percent recycled titanium, and customers can opt for a carbon neutral model.

The device will come with a new watch face, exclusively for Ultra 2, called Modular Ultra. Apple describes it as the most customisable watch face it has ever made.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 is carbon neutral when paired with a new Trail Loop (pictured) or Alpine Loop.
Image credit Apple

“This year we’ve made our most rugged and capable Apple Watch even better,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

“Apple Watch Ultra 2 is our most advanced Apple Watch, with great performance and feature updates. It’s perfect for anyone who wants our biggest, brightest display, longest battery life, and best GPS of any Apple Watch, all in a stunning design.”

Apple Watch Ultra 2 can be ordered Tuesday, with availability beginning Friday, 22 September and is priced at £799.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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