On September 15th, 2020, Apple announced some major updates to their product line. We were anticipating some news about the Apple Watch and iPad, but what we got was so much more. The early predictions about improvements were correct in that those devices did receive a much-needed makeover. Another big theme for the developments to the Apple Watch had to do with the current crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw a good amount of thought being put into feature advancements that will help users stay in good health as well as maintain social distancing and ease into the solutions that connect us digitally.
For the Apple Watch, there were several developments to cover. First is the introduction of the 6th series. The most colorful line up ever, as well as the first time RED is available on an apple watch. It is not just the design, though; they have pushed the bar even further to gather health metrics with and incredible new health sensor. This sensor enables you to view your blood oxygen level right from your wrist. It shines infrared light onto your wrist and views the light that comes back to provide a measurement in just 15 seconds. The information is not only beneficial in the moment but is also stored within the health app to enhance your data.
Blood oxygen or SOP2 vital signs are a good indicator of overall health. And Apple is conduction three new health research studies that deal with conditions that affect the heart and lungs. These studies are related to asthma, heart failure, influenza, and Covid-19.
The 6th generation series has a dual-core processor that is 20% faster than the previous generation and allows for a 2.5X brighter always-on display, continuous elevation readings, and the ability to measure blood oxygen.
With the new watch, they have also increased the accessory bands and the watch face screen designs allowing for more customization by developers. Some of the new watch faces allow more time zones to be displayed, more personalization through color choices, and different watch face typographic options.
Apple watchOS 7 will be released alongside the new devices and mentions that it would allow for more customization on the developer side. Through this your app can modify, interact, or enhance watch faces in new ways. watchOS 7 will also use the new sensor to monitor the full range of your VO2 Max in addition to other health consideration features like hand washing detection and monitoring you in your sleep.
As we all continue to make our way through these difficult times and face the challenges that COVID-19 is causing in our communities around the world, it’s so inspiring how people everywhere have adapted: working remotely, learning from home, and gathering virtually to stay close to family and friends. And it’s been gratifying to see the important role our products have played in helping people come together, carry on and move forward.
– Tim Cook, Apple CEO
The apple watch SE will have the Core customer features that you all know and love. It uses the largest display formats and has the S5 chip. The Watch SE has the same sensors as the introduced series 6, so it is an affordable and advanced option for those who don’t wish to purchase the 6th generation model.
The first fitness service built around the apple watch is led by professional trainers and has the best music and workouts added weekly. The level of detail put into this service, and the integrations it has with your existing products will inspire you to get fit and stay fit.
Now you can see your metrics on your wrist and choose a workout on another device that you wish to view the exercise on. Fitness + will then automatically connect to your watch to that device to allow the metrics to be seen on-screen during your workout. During your workout, you are seeing how your performance is as well as receiving praise and instructions. At the end of your workout, you get a comprehensive summary. This service is launching with some of the most popular workout types, including yoga, cycling, dance, rowing, strength training, etc. Fitness + should give other home workout companion services a run for their money.
The introduction and timing of this service will also help a lot of people during this COVID-19 pandemic, as doing home workouts may be their only option.
Apple One is a bit easier to understand compared to the other news provided during today’s event. This is a service being provided to consolidate core features and apps that most users need. They have also broken it down into three different plans to allow individuals, families, and premium type users to have a practical option. The primary services being bundled are iCloud, Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, News+, and the newly introduced Fitness+. This is a great way to allow users to know what services are available to them as well as to manage them in a more centralized spot.
Now let’s look at what’s new with the iPad line of products.
It is the ten-year anniversary of the iPad, one of the most successful consumer electronic products ever produced. The market is growing, and the capabilities of the iPad are skyrocketing. Even now, 53% of customers are buying their very first iPad, which means that there are still troves of people who have not yet owned one. What a joy it is to be in this day and age. The iPad is continually growing and continuing to push the boundaries of what we can achieve in a handheld device.
With the developments to the A12 Bionic chip, it now has an even more powerful CPU and super-fast GPU. The CPU is 40% faster than the previous model, and the GPU provides a massive 2X jump in graphic performance. This iPad advancement now allows for better immersive gaming opportunities and even more robust Machine Learning capabilities. Compared to the performance of competing products in the space, it is by far the fastest device on the market.
Regarding ML, the progression in the custom neural engine for machine learning can successfully perform 5 trillion operations per second. This can open so many doors from a human behavioral analysis standpoint.
Many graphic designers and artists may continue to use Apple products to create beautiful work. Simultaneously, on the go or at home, and with iPad OS 14 and the apple pencil, this opens up opportunities for even greater creativity. With the new update, there are more ways to use the Apple Pencil as it understands what you write, shape recognition, smart selection for handwriting and drawings, and compact UIs.
This was the hot news of the day in retrospect, all-new, completely redesigned iPad Air. This gorgeous design, all-screen display, and color selection are the new iPad Air we have all been looking for.
From the new Touch ID with a next-generation design being within the top button, which is the smallest authentication sensor they have ever designed, to the processor, the A14 Bionic chip. It is the first in the industry to use 5nm technology, which is so small that they are measured in atoms. With this new technology comes an increase of up to 11.8 billion transistors, 40% over the previous iPad Air.
We also see a significant update to CPU with a 6 Core design and a 40% increase in performance along with a 30% increase in graphics to the previous iPad Air.
With this new iPad Air, video games and video editing will be accomplished much more efficiently. Today we are getting closer and closer to console-level gaming and desktop-level performance in mobile devices, which genuinely gets developers and tech-focused users excited.
Along with the new iPad Air, there was a large focus on Machine Learning with a two times ML performance boost and a new CPU optimized with ML accelerators. This development also means that apps that use CORE ML also benefit from the new A14 Bionic chip, allowing them to create more immersive features, smarter controls, and more accurate data. We saw a few examples of applications now that reap the benefit of Apple’s time and effort. These apps range from music production to mobile gaming at 60fps and even filling in the gaps of low-resolution images with CORE ML.
Apple’s September 2020 event was a great opportunity to see how Apple is prioritizing its time. We got to see the new Apple Watch and new iPad Air and we even get to look forward to a brand-new workout option with Fitness +. We also got to learn more about what’s to come for updates on the tvOS, watchOS 7, and iOS 14.
All in all, for mobile app development going forward it’s important to see that mobile devices are progressing steadily and that there are numerous platforms and mediums for app developers to build on. For our own team working on mobile game development, we also see the opportunity to create more graphic-intensive games with CPU heavy processes. In the current market, there are also numerous ways to use machine learning algorithms to benefit business operations so having devices and applications that use CORE ML in their code will prove to be interesting as time moves on.