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Apple held its second-ever virtual-only product event on Tuesday that centered on upgrades for two major product lines, Apple Watch and iPad.
The tech giant announced some important new additions to its now veteran devices, and in general those additions may make many consumers take notice, particularly ones who are health fanatics.
Unusually, no new iPhones were unveiled at the event. Apple previously said on an earnings call that its upcoming iPhone 12 launch would be delayed by “a few weeks,” likely due to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Here’s an overview of all Apple’s major announcements.
Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE
In keeping with the event’s “time flies” theme, Apple debuted two new models of smartwatch, as widely anticipated. The devices are both available for order with shipping starting on Sept. 18, the company said.
First, the Apple Watch Series 6, starting at $400, includes a new blood-oxygen-level sensor, an altimeter to measure altitude, and a newer faster processor branded the S6. Cosmetically, the watches come in gray, silver, gold, blue, and red metallic finishes.
Apple also debuted the Apple Watch SE, a lower-end model with fewer features that starts at $279. The cheaper device, designed to compete with fitness trackers from companies like Fitbit, has no electrocardiogram test, no blood-oxygen level sensor, and no always-on face display.
A couple other watch-related updates worth commenting on. Apple added a “family setup” feature, which lets people link multiple Apple Watches to a single iPhone—a useful option for people with children who may not own a device of their own. A new swimmer-friendly wristband called “solo loop” uses stretchy silicone instead of clasps.
Apple One and Fitness Plus services
As part of its big push into subscription services, Apple presented a few new software offerings.
The biggest news centered on “fitness+,” a service that offers access to virtual personal trainers and personalized exercise routines. Cycling, high-intensity interval training, yoga, and dance are among the weekly workouts. The service is planned to launch before year-end with a price of $10 per month or $80 per year.
Apple also unveiled Apple One, a bundle of its subscription services. The package strings together a combination of iCloud storage, Apple TV+, Apple Music, and more. A monthly subscription to the basic tier costs $15 for individuals and $20 for families (up to six members).
Fitness is included as part of the premium tier of Apple One for $30 per month. Separately, each of the services included in the premium offering would cost $55.
iPad and iPad Air
Apple launched two new upgraded iPad models.
The company talked up the processing power of its new eighth generation iPad, starting at $329. The tablet comes with a so-called A12 Bionic chip, designed by Apple, that gives it a 40% CPU speed boost and graphics that are twice as fast as last year’s model. Like the Apple Watches, the device can be ordered online now and will be shipped on Sept. 18.
The new fourth generation iPad Air, starting at $599 and available next month, comes with an A14 Bionic chip, a more powerful microchip. Thanks to that redesigned silicon, the device’s CPU performance beats out the previous iPad Air by 40% and its graphics speed is twice as fast.
The new iPad Air also comes with a reengineered Touch ID sensor at the top of the device rather than on the front pane, allowing for a full-screen display. The tablet comes in a variety of color options, including silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue finishes.
No new iPhone—yet
Unusually, Apple did not debut a next generation iPhone due to the aforementioned production delays.
While the new iPhones are expected soon, Apple is proceeding with a new generation of its mobile operating software, iOS 14, due out Wednesday. It previewed the software in detail—including its completely revamped home screen—at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June.
Planet of the apps
In addition to the product premieres, Apple made an ambitious environmental announcement. The company set a goal become carbon neutral—including across its suppliers—by 2030. The timeline matches similar goals set by peer tech giants Microsoft and Google this year.
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