The company may have announced new MacBooks and iMacs at its latest event yesterday… but what it secretly was doing all along was creating an advertisement for their smartphones. In a rare video uploaded to Apple’s YouTube channel, the tech giant revealed that their entire October 30th Keynote was filmed on the iPhone 15 Pro. The video lifts the curtain on how Apple pulled it off, while being perhaps the greatest act of ‘putting their money where their mouth is’ in terms of proving the iPhone’s top-notch video capabilities.
While it’s easy to think that the true star of the event was Apple’s new M3 chip, in reality it was the USB-C port on its newest iPhone 15 Pro. Unveiled just fifty days ago, the new iPhone 15 Pro’s USB-C port is capable of 10Gb/s transfer speeds, allowing you to move ProRes videos in a snap, and even connect external storage, 4K displays, microphones, among other accessories to augment the iPhone 15 Pro’s overall output.
The entire event was quite different from any of Apple’s events, and that seems to be by design. For starters, it premiered in the evening (or at night depending on which coast you live on), marking a massive departure from all of Apple’s morning events. We heard Tim Cook say the words “Good Evening” for the first time, but just before, we got a tour of the Apple Park at night. The camera flew in from up above, battling not just the tricky conditions of flight and navigation, but also incredibly low-light videography. The Apple Park was practically drenched in the Halloween spirit, with bats flying, ominous music, smoky/foggy pathways, and dimly lit scenes… all of which were captured brilliantly on the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s massive sensor.
The pre-Halloween keynote, the evening announcement, all seemed like a brilliant setup for the fact that Apple was planning on shooting the entire event on its latest phone. Sure, Apple could have had the event during the day and still boasted a “Shot On iPhone” disclaimer… but to shoot the entire thing in low-light – there’s no way Apple could resist that massive a flex. The event was also entirely edited on a Mac, as Apple’s way of showing how powerful the two devices are on their own as well as put together.
Anyone deeply familiar with Apple’s Shot On iPhone campaign knows that there’s more than just an iPhone involved. Those massive billboards with beautifully composed and edited photos look great, but a regular user holding an iPhone in their hand could never pull off the same visual mastery. The words ‘Shot On iPhone’ are often followed by ‘with a lot of expensive accessories’, but not many people know that. For Apple’s keynote, the company is at least a little more forthcoming by showing exactly what their rigs looked like… and no, it isn’t just a dude holding an iPhone in front of Tim Cook.
Verge reports that the entire Scary Fast event setup would have probably cost tens of thousands of dollars. The iPhone itself is mounted on a massive hand-carried rig that stabilizes the footage. For more consistent camera paths, the team used a dolly cam setup with trolleys and rails, and for the aerial shots, the Apple team literally built their own drones that held the iPhone 15 Pro Max. There are expensive microphones, monitors, battery units, lights, and a tonne of other equipment used in the picture. To be fair, Apple would still use all that extraneous equipment with a high-end camera… so just the fact that the iPhone could replace that camera does count for quite a lot.
The entire video dump was easily transferred out of the phone using the USB-C connector. Company 3, an American post-production company that handled the filming of the event, mentioned how buttery smooth the entire process was to shoot 4K ProRes with all those accessories and have all that raw footage simultaneously transferred onto an external hard disk without any hiccups. The A17 Bionic’s heavy lifting would then be complemented by Apple’s M2 chips, which were used by the Macs that edited the footage.
A quick glimpse at the hand-made drone used by Apple’s team to shoot all the aerial shots of the Scary Fast keynote.
This isn’t the first time the iPhone was used to shoot professional content. In 2015, a film named Tangerine was highlighted at the Sundance Film Festival for being shot entirely on iPhones. Notably, Olivia Rodrigo shot one of her music videos on an iPhone too, and Indian film director Vishal Bharadwaj collaborated with Apple to shoot a short film, Fursat, entirely on an iPhone. This is the first time Apple’s taken that plunge, and it seems to have paid off rather well. If only they had migrated to USB-C sooner…
Samsung’s still stuck with the foldable format. Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi have limited themselves to an Asia-exclusive audience… and Google mentioned NOTHING about the Pixel Fold’s sales, hinting at disappointment. So did the OnePlus Open arrive at the perfect time to reinvigorate foldable sales the way Apple’s Vision Pro reinvigorated the metaverse? Or is the OnePlus Open a little too late to a rather lackluster party that Samsung’s been trying to throw since 2019? My gut tells me it’s the latter.
All Foldables are the same
Speaking of 2019, I remember when Elon Musk took to the stage to reveal the Cybertruck at a Tesla event in November of the year. Just before Musk revealed the truck’s unique design, he revealed an image of four pickup trucks kept side by side with the logos removed. Musk asked the audience to look at the truck and identify which one belonged to which brand. To the untrained eye, without the logo, every truck looked the exact same. Rightfully so, Musk’s point was to highlight that within the pickup format, companies weren’t imaginative in the least. Everyone just colored within the lines, churning out trucks that had no character and that couldn’t be differentiated in a lineup. Foldable phones are seeing a similar trajectory. Apart from the fact that they bend in half, there’s really no difference between a OnePlus Open, a Pixel Fold, a Galaxy Z Fold, an Oppo Find N2, or a Huawei Mate X2. Every single phone looks the same on the front and when you open the device, and the only real difference lies in their back and how many cameras they have crammed into that bump. If you REALLY want to look for innovation, it’s probably in the way those hinges are designed or whether the phones leave a gap when they fold shut or have a clean closing seam… but otherwise, these foldables are exactly like their unfoldable counterparts.
Image Credits: MKBHD
The OnePlus Open Looks Great! But…
Amid much fanfare, OnePlus released their highly anticipated Open phone today (although most people will argue it looks EXACTLY like the Oppo Find N3). For a first attempt, it’s a stellar device that has a beautifully thin design that folds shut. The bezels are practically invisible both on the outside as well as the inside, firing major shots at Google’s Pixel Fold that looks absolutely chunky and hideous in comparison, and the phone is slim when folded, but opens up to reveal a gorgeous 7.8-inch display that shows barely any crease when opened. It’s got a Hasselblad-powered camera, the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and an impressive 4805mAh battery. The software is great, with a uniquely designed interface that prioritizes power-use, allows multitasking, and has an almost laptop-style dock of apps at the bottom that you can access on demand. Heck, the alert slider is back too, making this phone a true OnePlus icon. However, there are a few rather glaring problems. The phone is quite literally a rip-off of the Oppo Find N3, which most people would have figured out considering Oppo owns OnePlus now. So if you’re looking for something absolutely refreshingly different, this really isn’t it. The phone also skips wireless charging in a strange turn of events, and has a starting price of $1700, making it eye-wateringly expensive considering you could get a GOOD flagship phone for half that price. The overarching problem, however, is that if you view OnePlus’ own teaser from last week, it’s a vague message AT BEST. The teaser talks about how life bends you, and how your phone should bend too. It vaguely rants about “opening to new possibilities” and ties it to OnePlus’ “Never Settle” tagline. Sure, one could argue that it’s just a teaser, but what it’s teasing isn’t new. The OnePlus Open is great on paper, but it makes absolutely no compelling case for why you should buy it over any other foldable, or even any other regular non-folding flagship with a big screen, good battery, and a great camera.
Consumers aren’t asking for foldable phones…
The tragedy with foldables is that consumers find them interesting, but not interesting enough to buy. We love the idea of wowing at stuff, but just a small fraction of users are actually enthusiastic enough to put the money where their mouth is. The number is so small that companies don’t EVER talk about how many foldables they sold. Not to consumers, not to analysts, not even to shareholders. The reason behind this tiny number is beyond just the fact that foldable phones are more expensive than some laptops. It’s that consumers literally aren’t asking for foldables. People just want better cameras and batteries, more durable devices that last longer, and ease of repairability, whether it’s first or third-party repairs.
The Folding Screen isn’t the solution… It’s the problem
Just like consumers have ‘range anxiety’ with EVs, they have ‘bend anxiety’ with foldables. We’re a generation that puts cases on phones, applies tempered glass on screens. I’m absolutely anal about making sure my phone doesn’t see a scratch on it, so you can imagine how neurotic I’d be if I had a folding phone worth twice as much as my current device. There’s an inherent fear of accidentally shutting your phone with some dust or sand in it, or having your keys get wedged as you fold your phone shut, or just the fact that folding a display may end up damaging it (Marques Brownlee’s OnePlus Open handset showed a few dead pixels within 3 weeks). Besides, foldables don’t have one screen – they have two, so that’s double the anxiety. After all, warranties don’t cover cracked or damaged displays. Fixing the display on a foldable costs as much as buying a new flagship phone. All that being said… those concerns may be generational. Foldables could scare off our generations but could somehow appeal to younger generations who don’t look at all these as concerns but as ridiculous hypotheticals. That puts us at an interesting turning point.
How Foldables benefit the entire Smartphone Industry
The minute you stop thinking of foldables as actual consumer gadgets and start thinking of them as R&D devices, you begin to appreciate them. First-generation foldables had horrible designs. Their bezels were unappealingly thick, the phones themselves felt incredibly chunky, the hinges made all sorts of noises, and the battery life was abysmal. Cut to nearly half a decade later and you really begin to see how far we’ve come. Newer foldables have thinner profiles, practically invisible bezels, highly engineered hinges, and split batteries that go up to 5000mAh in capacity, giving you all-day usage just like a regular phone. This innovation helps consumers in two ways – First, it carries over onto regular phones, which can now house better batteries, and which can be engineered to be more durable thanks to the material science that goes into foldables. Secondly, the ONLY way to make foldables more affordable is to make more of them. There was a time when OLED displays were terrifyingly expensive, but now even a $500 mid-range phone has an OLED display, showing how effective the economies of scale are at bringing down the cost of cutting-edge tech. If we’re on this trajectory, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to imagine a $799 foldable, which would appeal to a vast variety of users. That future, however, remains largely unknown… which is why it isn’t really easy to predict whether the OnePlus Open came too early or too late. My gut as an avid tech-lover tells me that foldables won’t die, but they’ll remain a niche. Before foldables become mainstream, we’ll move on to the next thing, which could possibly be spatial computing. In that eventuality, there won’t be much demand for a folding phone, however, folding technology will carry forward into other sectors like tablets and laptops. My gut tells me the OnePlus Open might just be a bit of a bust, but it’ll play a key role (along with other foldables) in helping spur innovation in multiple different directions.
The average human makes roughly 1 million keystrokes each year… marking a major area for an ergonomic intervention. Unveiled today, the Logitech Wave Keys wireless keyboard joins the company’s Ergo line-up as a budget-friendly ergonomic keyboard to create a comfortable, reliable, and tactile typing experience. Designed to pair perfectly with the Lift Vertical mouse, the $59.99 Wave Keys offers a budget-friendly alternative Logitech’s $119.99 Ergo K860 split ergonomic keyboard launched back in 2020. Adopting a similar form factor, the Wave Keys gets its name from the unique wave-shaped form factor that’s a cross between traditional flat keyboards and those ergonomic spherical keyboards from the 1970s. This unique curved shape, along with the padded palm rest allows your hands to rest more naturally on the keyboard, enabling a comfortable experience for your fingers, wrists, and your palms… and I say this with a certain degree of confidence as I type this article out on the Wave Keys myself!
The first impression you get with the Wave Keys is how comfortably petite it is. The keyboard measures less than 13 inches across (375.97mm), occupying the same horizontal space as a conventional 15.6″ laptop, but has a 96% layout, putting it in compact full-sized territory. That means the keyboard sports a num-pad along with a function row, giving you every key you could need. The function row is also feature-optimized to do useful things like take screenshots, toggle the emoji menu, mute/unmute your microphone during audio/video calls, and even play-pause actively playing content.
The keyboard’s biggest highlight is its wave-shaped design, a feature it borrows (and refines) from its predecessor, the Ergo K860. Unlike the K860’s split-key format, the Wave Keys has a continuous key layout and features larger mechanical keycaps that offer a comfortably tactile experience. It’s not as quiet as the K860’s chiclet-style keycap, but it isn’t as noisy as some other mechanical keyboards either.
The wave-shaped hump at the center of the keyboard is something the Logitech design team arrived at after years of designing, prototyping, and refining. The keyboard was carefully crafted with multiple rounds of user testing including at Logitech’s Ergo Lab and has a stamp of approval from US Ergonomics.
Other ergonomic considerations are the padded palm-rest along with height-adjustable tilt-legs that give the keyboard up to 4° of elevation for easier typing over longer periods of time. The palm rest (yet another feature extended from the K860 line) does make the keyboard wider than most, measuring 8.6 inches (218.9 mm) from top to bottom, but it vastly enhances the keyboard’s comfort levels, allowing it to live up to its ergonomic character.
The Wave Keys runs on Bluetooth as well as Logitech’s Bolt receiver, which additionally supports the Lift Vertical mouse.
The Wave Keys supports connections to up to 3 devices at the same time, allowing you to switch between them using the first three buttons on the function row. The keyboard connects to different devices using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), supporting operating systems like Windows, MacOS, iPadOS, Chrome OS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Alternatively, it ships with the Logi Bolt USB receiver that plugs into a USB-A port, letting you connect using Logitech’s more secure wireless protocol. Additionally, the free Logi Options+ app lets you customize your keyboard experience by changing what the function buttons do, adding software/program-specific shortcuts, or even enabling Smart Actions that allow you to automate multiple tasks with a single keystroke so you can streamline your workflow. The Wave Keys runs on two AAA batteries, and Logitech touts an impressive 3-year lifespan before the batteries need to be replaced.
Sustainability also forms a core part of Logitech’s design and innovation approach. The company has touted using PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastics in their products and the Wave Keys is no different, with up to 61% of recycled plastic in its Graphite version, and 46% in its off-white version. The Wave Keys are also certified carbon-neutral and ship with zero-plastic packaging.
The Logitech Wave Keys launches today in two colorways – Graphite and Off White, with a third option named Rose launching in the spring of 2024. The Wave Keys starts at a retail price of $59.99 in North America and €79.99 in Europe, making it a perfect budget pick for individuals as well as for businesses. Visit the Logitech website to learn more.
It’s well known that the Apple Watch isn’t a watch – it’s a cutting-edge medical and fitness wearable that also tells the time. Every September, Tim Cook relays stories from regular consumers of how the Apple Watch saved their lives, and it seems like Google’s borrowing a page from its biggest rival. The Pixel Watch 2 made its official debut today and the one thing that stood out was how Google was integrating FitBit into the Pixel Watch to make it an effective health wearable… but that wasn’t all. Aside from just being a flagship fitness and health-monitoring watch, Google also leaned heavily into its AI expertise to make the Pixel Watch 2 a powerful smart wearable. In a rare first, Apple may have pioneered the health wearable… but thanks to its AI abilities, Google is perfecting it.
Google’s parent company Alphabet announced its bid to acquire FitBit in 2019 – a process that was finally completed in 2021. At the time, it seemed odd, given that Google didn’t have a single fitness wearable or smartwatch of its own… but nearly 4 years after its initial announcement, the Pixel Watch 2 is revealing the payoffs of that collaboration.
The Pixel Watch 2 boasts the same teardrop design as its predecessor, but with new hardware and software upgrades. On the software front, the Watch 2 has support for new apps like Gmail and Calendar along with improvements to YouTube Music, Google Assistant, and third-party apps like WhatsApp, Audible, etc. It now also sports the Safety Check feature that Google introduced last year with the Pixel 7 smartphone, allowing your watch to notify your emergency contacts if you don’t respond within a certain time frame – perfect for students, commuters, or anyone who needs a guardian/friend/family member to check in on them.
The hardware upgrade involves an improved heart-rate monitor that is 10x more efficient and accurate than the one on the 1st Gen Pixel Watch, thanks to Google opting for a multi-path sensor that works in tandem with an improved ML algorithm. The watch also has a skin temperature sensor and a continuous electrodermal activity sensor for measuring sleep quality as well as detecting changes in emotion like the feeling of stress.
Where the Pixel Watch 2 really begins overtaking the Apple Watch is in how it deals with the data it gathers from its hardware and sensors. A new and improved AI Assistant now offers a much more intuitive approach to tracking your health. Fitness data gets logged into the Watch 2’s new Fitbit app, with a redesigned interface for the smartphone… but what’s really impressive is the AI’s ability to parse that data in much more meaningful ways. You can now ask the Fitbit app whether there was any improvement between yesterday’s and today’s exercise routine, or if it notices any anomalies in your fitness based on your performance. This new AI-driven approach offers much better insights into your fitness in ways that the Apple Watch probably can’t. Sure, the Watch and Watch Ultra can gather your health and exercise data in expert ways, but what they truly lack is that layer of AI that lets you ‘talk to your data’ to learn things that you probably wouldn’t by simply looking at a chart, graph, or app.
The Watch 2 comes made using recycled aluminum (yet another page from the Carbon Neutral Apple playbook), and sports a 24-hour battery life despite its always-on display. It has the same strap attachment system, so you can use existing straps from the previous model with your new wearable. Each Pixel Watch 2 comes with 6 months of Fitbit Premium, and a month of YouTube Music Premium free, and sports a $349 price tag.
The idea of being an Apple or Android superfan made a lot of sense 10 years ago when there were substantial differences between the two brands. Today, the two operating systems share an entire host of similarities. Both have overlapping features that make them compelling alternatives to each other, and the only truly defining difference at this point is their individual ecosystems or walled gardens… that was until today when Google revealed their Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
While outwardly, the Pixel 8 series and the iPhone 15 series share a ton of pretty great features, it’s remarkable what Google’s managed to achieve with its AI-first approach. Both phones run on custom silicon (the iPhone on the A17 Bionic chip and the Pixel on the Tensor 3 chip), but Google’s strong AI background has resulted in a few surprising new features that set it in a class apart. These features are so game-changing that not only are they not available on any other Android phone, but you won’t find them even on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
The first on this list isn’t an AI-powered feature but rather a hardware one… and a pretty funky one to begin with. The Pixel 8 Pro is the first Pixel phone to come with its own temperature sensor that measures the temperature of anything you point it at. Almost working like an IR thermometer, this sensor lets you see if your drink’s chilled or if your barbecue grill or cast iron is ripping hot. You can measure the outer temperature of food items to know if they’re cooked properly or if your coffee is too hot for consumption. Google has even filed an application with the FDA to allow the sensor to monitor human temperature data, allowing you to check if you have a fever, and sync that data with your fitness device. The temperature sensor on the Pixel 8 Pro is mirrored by a LiDAR sensor on the iPhone 15 Pro, which performs 3D scanning rather than temperature gauging. Sure, they don’t compare given how wildly different they are, but one could argue that the ability to instantly measure the temperature of anything has much more of a real-world impact than the ability to 3D scan.
Last year, Google unveiled some pretty impressive AI-powered editing features within its Photos app, like the ability to unblur photos, to erase objects you didn’t need, and to move certain elements within the photo for a better composition… but what do you do when you click a group photo at the wrong moment when someone’s eyes are closed, or a family photo with the kid making faces while everyone says cheese? Best Take is Google’s answer to that unique problem – if you’re unhappy with someone’s expression in a photo, Best Take simply changes their expression for you. The camera records facial expressions long before you hit the shutter button, giving you multiple options to choose from. The AI simply replaces the ‘bad’ face with a better one, resulting in a computationally altered photo that looks much more appealing. In Google’s words, it replaces the photo you just clicked with the photo you wish you clicked.
This feature, although highly impressive, has a lot of people up in arms because it destroys the very concept of a photograph. Most purists will argue that such a high level of editing pretty much takes away the true beauty of a photograph because it completely alters reality. There’s a significant difference between altering a photo’s white balance and flat-out changing someone’s face… but that vitriolic debate aside, the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro both tout this rather incredible feature that isn’t just missing on the iPhone, it’s probably against the very belief system of the people at Apple.
Audio Magic Eraser
If last year’s magic eraser for photos wasn’t good enough, Google debuted a new Audio Magic Eraser feature for video too! Sort of like noise canceling for videos, the new Audio Magic Eraser feature lets you edit the audio in the video files captured on your phone. Tensor’s powerful AI analyzes the audio and separates the waveforms into multiple categories that you can then either mute or reduce. Recording a vlog on a noisy road? The AI can eliminate the car and crowd noises and keep just your voice (without any fancy microphone or equipment). Trying to sing a song and your dog’s barking away in the background? You can mute your dog entirely in post by simply ‘erasing’ that sound from the overall video! The Audio Magic Eraser is a brilliant example of how far Google’s come with its AI endeavors, and is a major sign for Apple and other companies to jump aboard the AI train.
Video Boost and Night Sight Video
Google’s made some massive improvements to the Pixel’s video-shooting abilities too. The iPhone has somewhat been a bit of an undisputed champion in the video department, but the Pixel 8 Pro’s latest features fire direct shots at Apple. Video Boost is Google’s latest feature for enhancing videos AFTER you’ve shot them. Sort of like how photos get computationally enhanced after you click the shutter button, Google now extends this feature to videos too, processing every single frame individually to tweak the colors, highlight the skin tone, enhance HDRI, and make the output much more vibrant and beautiful than the original footage. Video Boost works retroactively, but only if you’ve got the feature enabled before you shoot your video. Once shot, the video is sent to Google’s cloud servers to process, and then the boosted video is sent back to your phone, available directly in the Photos library.
Enable Video Boost in a low-light environment and you instantly get access to Google’s new Night Sight Video feature. Night sight, whether on Android or iOS, has been limited to photos, but what Google proposes is literally mind-boggling. Just like Video Boost, Night Sight Video enhances every single frame of your low-light video file, enriching it and bringing out details that were previously hidden in the darkness. I imagine somewhere an Apple exec is furious at the fact that the Pixel 8 can now record low-light videos, because after its astrophotography mode, this is yet another significant win for Google over Apple!
If you don’t have upwards of $1,099 to spend on the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s tetraprism camera that shoots 5x optical zoom, this new feature for Pixel phones should impress you. Announced alongside the new Pixel 8 phones, Zoom Enhance is a feature within Google Photos that uses AI to upscale your photos for you. The feature, on its own, might not sound as revolutionary as the Audio Magic Eraser, but it’s the first time a smartphone’s had a generative AI upscaler built right into it. Just pinch to zoom into an existing photo and you’ve now got the option to enhance it using generative AI upscaling technology that felt like science fiction just a few years ago. What’s truly impressive is that the Zoom Enhance feature runs on-device and doesn’t need to use a massive cloud-based AI model. This on-device foundation model is specific to the Tensor 3 chip, and although the Zoom Enhance feature isn’t available immediately, Google promised to roll it out later this year.
Recorder Transcribe + Summarize
Another feature powered by the Pixel’s on-device foundational model is its ability to transcribe and summarize your recordings. Google did announce a Live Transcribe app over 5 years ago, but with the birth of LLMs, the new Recorder is a pretty potent tool that takes the effort out of transcribing all your recordings. It works off the bat, without needing a separate subscription to an AI service. Just hit the record button and the phone creates an audio recording while simultaneously transcribing every recording into an in-depth text file. A summarize button helps condense the entire transcription into actionable pointers. The service runs locally, is free, and makes a strong case for why anyone should choose a Pixel 8 over an iPhone 15.
The Pixel’s impressive AI model also helps sort robocalls from real ones with stunning accuracy. Hit the Call Screen button when your phone rings and the phone’s AI ‘chats’ with the caller to identify the purpose of their call. If it’s spam, the Pixel 8 automatically declines the call for you without you needing to answer, but if it’s important, you can either answer the call or get the AI to respond for you. Perfect for calls that just need small actions from you, the Call Screen feature lets you quickly go about your business instead of being on a call that takes minutes when it should have taken seconds. The Call Screen feature is touted to even work on the Pixel Watch when connected to a Pixel phone.
7 Years of Software Updates (Bonus)
Rick Osterloh also made a pretty surprising announcement at the end of the keynote, stating that the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro would get a whopping 7 years of software updates to keep them running for longer. Most phones get 3 years of updates, the iPhone gets 5, but 7 years is pretty unprecedented for any smartphone. It shows that Google is (at least on paper) serious about what the Pixel means to them and that they want consumers to benefit from it for as long as possible. It also means people will hold onto their Pixel phones for longer, hopefully reducing e-waste and Google’s carbon footprint significantly. Sure, Apple’s got its Carbon Neutral program… but let me know when they offer software support for their iPhones for more than half a decade!
The highly anticipated Apple Watch Series 9 has been released alongside the new Apple Watch Ultra 2. Both watches offer similar features in terms of hardware and software. However, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the Series 9 justifies an upgrade.
Under the Hood: Performance & Display
The Series 9 boasts impressive hardware upgrades that set it apart from its predecessors. The most notable of these upgrades is the new Apple Silicon S9 chipset, which boasts a staggering 5.6 billion transistors – a 60% increase from the previous Series 8 model. This translates into a significant boost in performance, with the upgraded GPU providing a 30% speed increase that results in faster rendering and smoother graphics. Moreover, the 4-core neural engine has doubled the speed for those interested in machine learning, making it a compelling option for those who require powerful computational capabilities.
Another standout feature of the Series 9 is its brighter 2,000-nit display, which represents a significant improvement over the Series 8’s maximum brightness of 1,000 nits. This increase in brightness is a welcome development, resulting in a more vivid and lifelike viewing experience, particularly in outdoor settings where glare and sunlight can be issues. Additionally, the Series 9 has a low brightness level of just one nit, which helps optimize battery consumption, especially when using the always-on display feature. This feature is especially useful for those who rely on their devices heavily throughout the day, as it allows them to conserve battery life without sacrificing performance or functionality. Overall, the Series 9 represents a significant leap forward in terms of hardware and features, making it an excellent choice for those needing a high-performance device that can handle a wide range of tasks.
Connectivity & Design Updates
Including the UWB 2 (Ultrawideband) chip is a significant step up. It promises better accuracy when locating devices, like your misplaced iPhone, giving exact distance and direction. Moreover, there’s a deeper integration with Apple’s Homepod.
Apple has introduced an array of new watch bands, all with a significant emphasis on sustainability. The Series 9’s case is fashioned from 95% recycled aluminum. But what truly stands out is Apple’s shift away from leather straps in favor of eco-friendly alternatives.
A Game-Changer: The Double Tap
Apple Watch has always pushed the boundaries of intuitive interactions, and the Series 9 is no exception. The double tap gesture catches everyone’s attention among the array of new features. Here’s my deep dive into this new addition:
The Intuitive Touch of Double Tap
The Apple Watch has always been a leader in wearable technology, thanks to its innovative features like the Digital Crown and Taptic Engine. The new double tap gesture takes ease of use to the next level. Users can now control their watch without even touching the screen – just tap your index finger and thumb together twice to unlock a variety of actions and features. This latest addition promises to deliver a seamless and intuitive user experience, making the Apple Watch Series 9 an even more impressive device.
Effortless Control in a Snap
The beauty of the double tap lies in its simplicity and versatility. Need to pause your workout playlist or play the next track? Double tap. Want to halt that ongoing timer or snooze the morning alarm? Again, just double-tap. The gesture even extends to phone functions, allowing users to answer or end calls seamlessly. And for those picture-perfect moments, the Camera Remote on the Apple Watch can be activated with this gesture, ensuring users never miss capturing a memory.
On the watch face, a double tap swiftly opens the Smart Stack of widgets. Do you wish to sift through these widgets? Another round of double-tapping lets you browse through them with ease.
The Science Behind the Gesture
I’m extremely impressed with the innovative feature that Apple has introduced in their latest Apple Watch Series 9. The watch boasts a Neural Engine that powers this remarkable creation. It gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor, and uses a unique machine-learning algorithm to interpret the data.
What makes this feature truly remarkable is its detailed detection process. The algorithm is designed to identify the wrist’s specific micro-movements and the subtle changes in blood flow that occur when a user taps their index and thumb together. This level of precision is critical to ensure that the gesture is recognized accurately and quickly, resulting in a natural and seamless interaction experience.
Coming Soon to Wrists Everywhere
There’s a wait for those eager to test out the double tap gesture. Apple plans to roll out this feature in an upcoming software update next month. Given the potential of this gesture, it’s set to redefine how we interact with our smartwatches.
The Apple Watch Series 9 continues Apple’s legacy of innovation. Its latest addition, the double tap gesture, demonstrates the company’s dedication to creating smooth, intuitive, and futuristic user experiences. Having personally tried out this feature, I can confirm its ability to revolutionize how we interact with our smart wearables. Stay tuned for future reviews where I’ll delve deeper into other Apple Watch Series 9 features.
Apple’s FineWoven Straps: Where Luxury Meets Sustainability
It is worth noting the remarkable commitment Apple has made to sustainability with the Series 9. The brand has taken significant steps towards eco-friendliness by using recycled materials for the watch’s straps and striving for carbon neutrality. This aligns with other brands’ similar initiatives. However, Apple has not disclosed the expected lifespan of the Series 9 watch.
Moreover, not only is Apple advancing technology, but they are also pioneering sustainability with their latest creation, the “FineWoven” straps. The recent unveiling at the Wonderlust event was a pleasant surprise that exhibited not only the capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 but also the future of eco-friendly fashion in technology.
The FineWoven straps resemble suede but are made from tightly woven fibers instead
Goodbye Leather, Hello FineWoven
During the recent event, Lisa Jackson, who is Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, made a bold announcement regarding the company’s environmental stance. Apple is bidding farewell to the use of leather and is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.
The replacement for leather is a material called FineWoven, which exudes an understated yet elegant satin finish. The aesthetic appeal is only one aspect of FineWoven; it is also composed of over 60% recycled material. This fabric speaks volumes about Apple’s dedication to not just design but also to purpose. The use of FineWoven is a significant step towards achieving Apple’s environmental goals.
Hues and Tints: A Palette for Every Mood
Apple has introduced modern buckle and magnetic loop bands as the latest addition to their collection of bands for the Apple Watch. These bands come in a variety of stunning colors that are sure to appeal to anyone’s taste, allowing for a personalized and expressive fashion statement. Each hue has its own unique story to tell, offering a shade for every mood and occasion. The FineWoven straps offer a choice between serene midnight blue and bold sunburst orange, among other colors. These bands not only provide functionality but also style, allowing you to accessorize your Apple Watch.
Hermes: A Fashionable Partnership Renewed
Apple has made the decision to discontinue using leather in its product offerings. However, this change does not mean the end of their partnership with fashion giant Hermes. Instead, the two companies have joined forces to redefine their collaboration. Hermes has introduced a range of three new woven bands and a rugged silicone variant, designed to provide both durability and style. These new products cater to the ever-changing demands of today’s consumers.
The Hermes collection features new FineWoven straps and a redesigned watch face
Besides new hardware, WatchOS 10 offers various software features such as topographic maps, support for cycling power meters, and a redesigned user interface. These features were previewed at WWDC, Apple’s developer conference.
The Apple Watch Series 9 has undergone significant updates, particularly with the doubled display brightness, setting it apart from the Ultra 2. While some of these upgrades may appear subtle, the watch’s focus on sustainability is commendable. The new hardware and software features are noteworthy, but the ultimate test of success will be its performance in daily use. Stay tuned for our in-depth review of the Apple Watch Series 9 in the coming weeks.
For a company that’s been so bullish on Aluminum (or aluminium as Jony Ive called it), Apple’s gradual shift to titanium feels like an end of an era. For two decades, Apple has pretty much revolutionized the use of aluminum in technology, but hey… it’s the future, we’re about to colonize Mars, and it’s high time we thought bigger, right? Well, the folks at Apple certainly think so, having unveiled their first iPhone made out of titanium. This isn’t the first time Apple’s made a gadget out of titanium (the Apple Watch Ultra from last year holds that distinction), and it certainly isn’t the first time any company has made a phone out of titanium. In 2015, the Turing Phone boasted a titanium body, and in 2017, the Essential Phone from Andy Rubin touted the same titanium construction. However, nobody does fanfare as well as Apple, and they’ve pretty much put a spotlight on the fact that the iPhone 15 Pro is their first-ever iPhone crafted from titanium; and not just ordinary titanium, but Grade 5 titanium. So… what is Grade 5 titanium, you ask?
What is Grade 5 Titanium?
Just by itself, Titanium is a standout metal known for its high strength, low density, biocompatibility, and corrosion resistance. Grade 5, commonly referred to as Ti-6Al-4V, is an alloy of titanium that includes 6% Aluminum and 4% Vanadium. This combination amplifies the metal’s strength, making it the go-to titanium grade for various high-performance applications in aerospace, racing, and human implants… and even a hot favorite for the EveryDay Carry (EDC) community.
Grade 5 vs. Regular Titanium?
Standard commercial pure titanium, often referred to as “Grade 1” or “Grade 2,” is robust and corrosion-resistant. However, when you mix it with aluminum and vanadium to produce Grade 5 Titanium, you get a metal that’s about twice as strong as its basic counterpart. Moreover, while pure titanium grades boast commendable corrosion resistance, especially against oxygen, Grade 5 takes it a step further by offering enhanced resistance against wear and fatigue. This unique combination of properties makes Grade 5 not just an upgrade but rather a different league, setting a gold standard in high-performance low-weight materials.
Comparing Titanium with Steel and Aluminum
Strength and Weight: When pitted against steel, titanium stands out for its impressive strength-to-weight ratio. Titanium alloys, like Grade 5, offer strengths comparable to many steels, but at nearly half the weight. Aluminum, previously used in iPhone models, is lighter than titanium but doesn’t come close in terms of strength.
Corrosion Resistance: Both titanium and aluminum resist corrosion well. However, titanium has the edge, especially in saline or chlorine-rich environments. Titanium’s corrosion resistance is significantly superior compared to steel, especially if it’s not ‘stainless’ or treated in other ways.
Thermal Expansion: Titanium’s thermal expansion rate is closer to that of glass. When used in something like a smartphone, this becomes crucial. An iPhone screen is essentially glass, and by using a metal with a similar expansion rate, the risk of structural integrity loss due to temperature fluctuations is minimized.
Flexibility: One of the understated properties of titanium is its flexibility. While steel can be rigid and aluminum might be too pliable, titanium strikes a balance, giving devices like the iPhone 15 Pro resilience against bending or deformation.
Is a Titanium iPhone really THAT special?
Truth be told, it seems like the titanium build is, in some ways, an over-correction for bend-gate. It wasn’t particularly a great time in Apple’s history, with people folding and snapping their aluminum iPhones in half, and since then, Apple’s worked hard to make sure people don’t turn their smartphones into tacos for the internet to enjoy. The company transitioned to Stainless Steel for their Pro iPhone models, and one could say that was pretty much as strong as anyone needed their iPhone chassis to be. Titanium is overkill at this point, especially given that with any iPhone, the true weakness lies in the glass front and back… and not the metal frame itself. Sure, the company’s developed Ceramic Shield, but drop it on the floor and it’ll still probably shatter while the outer metal frame doesn’t as much as get a lasting scratch. Now Apple hasn’t specifically highlighted the phone’s rugged durability and toughness, they’ve only mentioned how tough titanium is ‘as a material’, listing its accomplishments on the earth and in outer space. The phone isn’t made entirely of titanium either – it still has an internal aluminum framework, with an aerospace-grade titanium band on the outside. How does that benefit the consumer? Well, it doesn’t in the ways you think, but you’re bound to notice how luxuriously thin the iPhone 15 Pro is when compared to previous steel models. Apple also highlights that using Grade 5 Titanium also allowed them to make the chassis thinner and push the bezels even further to the edge, resulting in a more expansive-looking screen that’s just great to look at… if you’ve got upwards of $999 to pay for it!
Last night’s 80-minute keynote saw the launch of four new Apple products – the Watch Series 9, Watch Ultra 2, iPhone 15, and iPhone 15 Pro… but arguably the biggest focus of the event wasn’t on a product – It was on an initiative. Apple spent well over 20 minutes talking about its commitment to the environment, its focus on reducing its global impact, and even formally unveiling its ‘Carbon Neutral’ program.
The segment even had a 5-minute short film starring Octavia Spencer as ‘Mother Nature’ visiting the Apple HQ for a status report on their mission (how they got her to act in it despite the SAG AFTRA strike is a separate question entirely). It marked a unique shift for the company, which usually has spent more time in its keynotes talking about cameras or Apple’s unwavering approach to user privacy.
‘Carbon Neutral’ isn’t just Apple’s biggest climate initiative, it’s probably the biggest by any company in the world – and Apple clearly wants everyone to know that. The short film with Spencer (you can watch it above) was an informal way of letting people know exactly how much Apple’s doing to “permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere”. This pretty much influences every single part of Apple’s operations, from the energy used to run the building, stores, and server rooms, to the materials used in the products and their packaging (even down to ensuring their suppliers are carbon-neutral), and also the way the products are shipped by sea instead of by air. Apple additionally ensures its products have a high trade-in value, so there’s a better chance they’ll get recycled instead of thrown in the trash. It’s a complex system that they’ve executed pretty well, if we’re to take them for their word… and it shows how only a company as big and influential as Apple could have pulled it off. So what exactly IS Carbon Neutral?
What IS ‘Carbon Neutral’?
Tim Cook made a bold claim to make Apple carbon neutral by 2030, and to mark this journey, Apple has designed a new symbol that will now feature on product displays and packaging moving forward. A green flower created using the ‘leaf’ of the Apple logo, the Carbon Neutral mark indicates that a product has a carbon-neutral impact. Which means, for every unit of that product manufactured, Apple has already minimized its carbon footprint down to zero. Why Apple would do this is a layered question, but it’s the “how” that’s MUCH more interesting.
How is Apple Reducing its Impact?
Most of Apple’s products are made using recycled materials. The company’s invested billions of dollars in designing systems and robots that can disassemble old, damaged, or sub-par products with staggering efficiency. Almost every ounce of aluminum used in Apple’s gadgets comes recycled from a previous gadget. The company’s even committed to using 100% recycled cobalt on its iPhone 15 batteries, and 100% recycled copper in the logic board. New tech from flagship models makes its way down the chain to budget models as time goes by, ensuring nearly a decade’s worth of recycling and repurposing that saves the environment and saves Apple a whole tonne of money. The company even ensures its headquarters, stores, and server rooms run entirely on renewable energy, and that its suppliers operate using clean electricity.
The packaging for newer products is made smaller so as to efficiently ship larger quantities in the same space, and Apple’s also increasingly opting for sea-shipping rather than air to lower their emissions. The company is looking to eliminate plastic from its packaging by the end of next year, has effectively phased out the use of leather because of its climate impact, and claims to have reduced its water usage by 63 billion gallons (don’t ask me how much water Apple currently uses). Whatever carbon Apple DOES produce gets minimized by its initiatives, like planting forests in Paraguay and Brazil, restoring the mangroves in Colombia, and the grasslands in Kenya.
This year, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra Series 2 are the first ever products to come with the Carbon Neutral logo on them, signifying that up until the point that you buy them, they have zero climate impact.
Is it all Hype?
It’s worth noticing that all this comes at a time when Apple’s being forced to switch from Lightning to USB-C, and to adhere to removable battery protocols for their devices by the EU in the years to come. Apple’s AirPods are also known to be ridiculously difficult to recycle and absolutely impossible to repair, prompting this young YouTuber to design his own repairable AirPods Pro case. Some would also raise the point that all these initiatives get baked right into Apple’s pricing, which is significantly higher than other companies. In a way, Apple isn’t paying for these initiatives out of their own pockets… It’s passing the price onto the consumer, which most people seem ready to pay.
It’s easy to dismiss all this as posturing, and a lot of it probably is just that because Apple’s data is somewhat vague, to begin with… but it’s also a brilliant marketing tool to make Apple stand out even more against a backdrop of technology that can often be seen as ethically or environmentally corrupt. We’re increasingly learning about the harsh conditions of cobalt or rare-earth-mineral mining that help create the technology we so readily use, so Apple’s stepping ahead of it all to show that they still “think different” even after all these years.
That being said, even if it IS all hype, it’s hype in a good direction. Apple doesn’t operate within a void – how it operates affects the way the entire tech industry operates too. When Apple forces TSMC or any of its raw material suppliers to switch to clean energy, that means Google, Samsung, LG, etc. are also being positively affected by the decision. A switch to plastic-free packaging makes that particular manufacturing method and its adjacent materials available to other tech giants too. Sure, we can’t expect the entire technology industry to go carbon neutral by 2030, but Apple makes up a significant chunk of that industry – so its rising-tide effect definitely lifts all boats… although I wonder if other companies would be comfortable using Apple’s Carbon Neutral logo or its evaluation system!
The latest iPhone 15 lineup for 2023 was recently introduced by Apple at their headquarters in Cupertino, California. I was surprised by this one as someone who has followed many iPhone launches. The lineup offers a variety of options, from the basic iPhone 15 at $799 to the high-end iPhone 15 Pro Max priced at $1199.
Today, I had the opportunity to get a closer look at these new iPhones. While most people might not notice the differences immediately, I was struck by one thing – the Pro and Pro Max versions were incredibly light! Cradling them in my hand left me momentarily speechless.
It’s worth noting that Apple has significantly changed its Pro series this year. The steel material has been replaced with a stunning titanium body, completely transforming the device’s feel. While this change may not be immediately obvious from a distance or in photos, holding the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max is a completely different experience. It’s as if your trusted daily companion has undergone a rigorous workout and emerged stronger and more impressive than ever before. This revamp is truly awe-inspiring and may make you consider upgrading from your previous year’s Pro model.
We’re considering a 9% weight drop on the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 Pro from last year’s model. Its larger variant, the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max, has also shed some weight, standing 8% lighter. Now, these percentages might seem minor in writing, but in the realm of day-to-day handling, it’s a game-changer. I mean, just consider the countless hours we spend with our phones in hand. From binging videos to texting or, let’s be honest, those endless scrolling sessions. Every gram saved is a win, especially for that ever-struggling pinky finger propping up the phone’s base.
Granted, $999 might be a tad heavy on the wallet, especially for the Pro version with a basic 128GB. But considering the comfort and the premium feel, it’s an upgrade I’m seriously contemplating. And for those of us who’ve had our pinkies working overtime these past years, this is the break they’ve been waiting for.
In essence, if you’re in the market for an upgrade, or even if you’re just a curious tech enthusiast, the iPhone 15 Pro lineup deserves a look – if not for anything else, then to give your pockets and pinky a lighter day. I’m contemplating handing my 1TB iPhone 14 Pro Max to my 13-year-old daughter. I’ve got my sights set on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. But choosing the color? Well, I’ve got until Friday to make up my mind.
Delving into the iPhone 15 Pro’s ‘Action Button’: A Multifunctional Marvel
In an era of minimalist design, where every element aims to provide multifunctionality, Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro emerges as a frontrunner, seamlessly aligning with the device’s aesthetic and delving deep into practical utility.
During my hands-on interaction, the Action Button immediately commanded attention. It’s evident Apple meticulously designed it to eliminate inadvertent triggers; a brief press enlightens you with an on-screen cue, suggesting a more intentional press-and-hold mechanism. This thoughtful addition undoubtedly enhances user experience, ensuring tasks are executed deliberately.
Venture into the settings and a vast realm of customization is unveiled. But of all the utilities the Action Button can be mapped to, the camera stands out as my personal favorite, and it’s likely to be the most frequently used by many. In an age of fleeting moments and instant captures, the ability to immediately access the camera could be game-changing.
But the versatility of the Action Button doesn’t halt there. Whether you’re looking to instantly shift the ambiance using the ‘Focus’ mode, illuminate your surroundings with the ‘flashlight,’ or swiftly capture a voice note with ‘voice memo,’ this button can do it all. The’ translate’ function promises to be invaluable for users who often find themselves in diverse linguistic landscapes. The ‘magnifier’ feature is also a boon for those seeking visual clarity, making minute details discernible.
The Action Button on the iPhone 15 Pro is an impressive feature that is made even better by its integration with ‘Shortcuts.’ This feature allows for endless possibilities, even if third-party apps don’t have direct access to the Action Button. With ‘Shortcuts,’ users can create a personalized experience by accessing specific apps or features within them.
The Action Button is more than just a physical button; it represents Apple’s commitment to merging design and functionality. No matter what your preferred ‘action’ may be, whether it’s taking photos or using voice memos or translation features, the Action Button has something for everyone. This is a testament to Apple’s design philosophy and the universality of the button.
iPhone 15 Pro Series: A Photographic Evolution
The cameras on the iPhone have always been a standout feature, attracting those who appreciate attention to detail. During my brief experience with the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, it was clear that the image quality was nothing short of amazing. However, a more thorough analysis of these camera systems will be saved for a comprehensive review.
A Symphony of Lenses
At first glance, the iPhone 15 Pro promises a renewed main camera experience. Yet, it’s the iPhone 15 Pro Max, with its all-new 5x telephoto camera, that truly shines—especially for those moments when distance challenges the story you’re trying to capture. Whether it’s a majestic eagle in mid-flight, the grandeur of distant peaks, or just children lost in their playful world, the Pro Max delivers.
During the launch event, Greg “Joz” Joswiak, Apple’s dynamic marketing leader, highlighted the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max’s remarkable feature, which is like having access to seven different camera lenses. It’s fascinating to see how smartphones today can imitate traditional cameras’ zoom lenses with their various lens combinations. All of this technology is packed into a compact, handheld device. However, this level of luxury is typically only found in the highest-end smartphones.
The Lure of the Details
Both versions of the Pro model have a reliable camera setup. The main camera is a 48-megapixel wide-angle lens, and there is also a 12-megapixel ultrawide option. However, there are some differences. The main camera can adjust its focal length from 24mm to 35mm, making it flexible and versatile for photographers. On the other hand, the ultrawide lens has a focal length of 13mm and can smoothly shift into a macro mode, perfect for capturing close-up shots.
The difference between the two Pro models is most noticeable in their telephoto capabilities. The iPhone 15 Pro has a 3x telephoto lens, similar to its predecessor, while the Pro Max has a 5x lens supported by advanced image stabilization technology.
Crafting the Vision
Apple stays ahead of the game with its continuous advancements despite the competition from Android giants. The main camera, boasting 48 megapixels, is the core of the photography experience on both models. With a larger sensor and Apple’s computational expertise, the visuals are guaranteed to be breathtaking, and you have the freedom to customize your perspective when using the camera.
Even in low-light conditions or as the sun sets, the new lens offers clarity thanks to its wide f1.8 aperture. Additionally, the second-generation image stabilization ensures that the iPhone’s reputation for superior camera technology will persist.
As the iPhone 15 Pro series photographic narrative unfolds, we’ll watch every frame and every story. Keep those lenses focused and the stories flowing until the full review.
iPhone 15 Series: A USB-C switch with a Twist
The iPhone 15 and 15 Pro mark Apple’s entry into the world of USB-C, which is a long-awaited move. At first glance, it seems like a significant step forward, but there are complexities to this innovation, as is common with many advancements.
The iPhone 15 Pro promises potential data transfer rates of up to 10 Gbps. Such speeds evoke images of near-instantaneous file transfers and seamless streaming. However, in a move that might perplex some, Apple’s choice to pack in a USB 2.0 cable, despite its type-C port, means users won’t tap into those blazing speeds right out of the gate.
During their keynote, Apple clarified that to harness the potential of these “USB 3 speeds truly”, an “optional USB 3” cable would be required. This addition promises not just brisker data transfer but also extends to sublime video output capabilities – imagine 4K at a mesmerizing 60 fps HDR.
Presently, Apple offers a solution for those seeking these enhanced speeds: a Thunderbolt 4 cable, available separately at $69. This might feel like an additional investment for the savvy consumer to unlock the iPhone’s capabilities fully.
Apple’s commitment to USB-C is evident in their expanded accessory lineup. From high-wattage charging cables to a handy USB-C to a lightning dongle, the ecosystem is evolving. However, the underlying message is clear: to experience the zenith of what the iPhone 15 series USB-C offers, an additional investment seems inevitable.
Apple’s adoption of USB-C technology is a significant advancement that brings the iPhone closer to universal compatibility and faster speeds. However, it’s crucial for users to fully understand its intricacies so they can make informed decisions and fully utilize the capabilities of their devices. As with any innovation, there is a mix of excitement and reflection.
As Apple revealed the latest fleet of the Apple Watch collection, one feature stood out as the most remarkable as well as the most intriguing. The Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 both boasted of a new gesture input – being able to tap your fingers twice to register a button press. This would work remarkably well if your hands were occupied or dirty, letting you answer/end calls, snooze alarms, play/pause music, and even trigger your iPhone shutter simply by tapping your index finger and thumb together… without touching your Apple Watch at all. Sounds impressive, but also sounds extremely familiar, doesn’t it? Because tapping your fingers is exactly how the Apple Vision Pro registers click inputs too.
When Apple debuted the Vision Pro at WWDC in June, their biggest claim was that the Vision Pro was an entirely controller-free AR/VR headset, letting you manipulate virtual objects using just your hands. However, news emerged that Apple was, indeed, figuring out a traditional controller substitute that would be much more reliable than just human hands. It seems like the Apple Watch could be that perfect alternative.
The Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra Series 2 were unveiled this year, with a few standout upgrades. Both watches now come with 2000 Nits peak brightness, doubling last year’s capabilities. They both also rely on the new S9 SiP (the watch’s dedicated chipset) which now runs Siri locally on the device, without relying on the internet. The watches are also accompanied by new bands, including the FineWoven fabric that now replaces all leather accessories in Apple’s catalog… but more importantly, both the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra Series 2 accept the new finger-tapping gesture that does what the home button on both watches would do. The feature’s due to roll out next month as Apple calibrates how it works… but the implications of the feature go beyond just the watch. In fact, the Watch could be the secret controller the Vision Pro truly needs to enhance its Spatial Computing Experience.
Sure, the Vision Pro has multiple cameras that track your environment, also keeping an eye on your hands to see where you’re pointing, tapping, and pinching. The big caveat, however, is any situation where the Vision Pro CAN’T see your hands. If you’ve got your hands under a table, in your pocket, or behind your back, the Vision Pro potentially wouldn’t be able to recognize your fingers clicking away… and that’s a pretty massive drawback for the $3500 device. Potentially though, the Apple Watch helps solve that problem by being able to detect finger taps… although only on one hand.
The way the ‘Double Tap’ feature works on the watch is by relying on the S9 SiP. The chipset uses machine learning to interpret data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor to detect when you tap your fingers twice. The feature only works with the hand that’s wearing the Watch (you can’t tap your right-hand fingers while the Watch is on your left hand), but even that’s enough to solve the Vision Pro’s big problem. Moreover, the new Ultra Wide Band chip on the watch can help with spatial tracking, letting your Vision Pro when your hands are in sight and when they aren’t. While Apple hasn’t formally announced compatibility between the Watch and the Vision Pro, we can expect more details when Apple’s spatial-computing headset formally launches next year. The Vision Pro could get its own dedicated keynote event, or even be clubbed along with the new iPad/MacBook announcements that often happen at the beginning of the calendar year.