Apple announced three new iPhones at its September 12 media event with the tagline “Gather round,” held at the Steve Jobs Theater in the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California.
However, it was the Apple Watch Series 4 that proved to be the crown jewel of the annual Apple event.
The latest-gen Apple Watch is being made available in two size options, both of which are larger than the two sizes the previous-generation Apple Watch Series 3 came in.
While the 40-millimeter Apple Watch Series 4 is 32 percent larger than the earlier 38mm version, the 44-millimeter variant is 35 percent bigger than its 42mm predecessor.
Despite the larger displays, both the Apple Watch Series 4 models have managed to retain the same form factor as last year’s versions and are even a little thinner this time around.
Apple made that possible by shrinking the bezels on the new screens and curving them ever so gently towards the edges to give them a contemporary look and feel.
A bunch of new watch faces, including Fire, Water, and Vapor, complement the new displays quite well and there is a super-handy new default watch face, as well, chock-a-block with a ton of information, including an impressive eight complications – all of which should make for a fantastic user-experience, although it may take some getting used to.
One of the apparent physical changes, compared to the previous edition, is the addition of a tiny microphone hole between the digital crown and the side button, probably for the purpose of improved voice recognition by Siri.
It also includes a bigger speaker, about fifty percent louder than the earlier version; plus, the 4th-generation 64-bit Dual-Core S4 processor under the hood makes the device twice as fast in terms of performance speed.
On the side, the Apple Watch Series 4 continues to have the digital crown, which has evolved to, now, give you a little click with every turn.
Also, gone is the ugly red dot that covered almost the entire face of the digital crown, to be replaced by the more subtle outline of a red circle.
However, the biggest new feature that promises to take the Apple Watch Series 4 well ahead of the competition comes in the form of the device’s heart-rate monitoring.
The twin electrodes on the back of the watch come in contact with the wearer’s skin, giving the watch some ground-breaking attributes, like the Electrocardiogram (ECG) capability, for example.
The Apple Watch Series 4 will be the first ever over-the-counter ECG-capable device when it’s shipped out later this month, and the fact that it has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Heart Association means that it can be relied on for accurate readings.
All you need to do is press and hold the digital crown for about thirty seconds to activate this truly life-saving feature, which then stores the ECG readings, privately and securely, on the Apple Health application.
The heart-rate tracking on the Apple Watch Series 4 has also been given a bunch of upgrades, allowing the watch to continuously track you throughout the day.
It effectively detects irregular heart rate and alerts you to a potentially serious Atrial Fibrillation or other heart condition, thereby allowing you to take timely measures.
The new Apple Watch is now capable of detecting a slip, trip, or a fall, automatically giving you the option of dialing 911 with a single tap, should the situation so demand.
Also, the device will automatically send an SOS message to your loved ones if it does not detect any movement sixty seconds after the fall.
The battery life remains the same, giving up to 18 hours on a full charge.
The cheapest GPS model of the Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, while the Cellular version will start from $499.
The good thing is that your collection of bands from the older version will continue to work on the Series 4 and, as was expected, Apple has gone ahead and slashed the price of the Series 3 by $50.
While the Apple Watch Series 4 may seem a bit pricey, it has some game-changing features that make the device well worth it, especially its ability to monitor your heart health in an unprecedented way.
The Series 4 will ship with Apple’s latest smartwatch software – watchOS 5 – which the company will officially release on Monday (September 17) as a free update for other Apple Watches, along with the iOS 12 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
watchOS 5 is Apple’s next-generation software for its smartwatches, which the tech giant unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018 in June.
The much-improved software, boasting scores of new features, is being made available as a free update.
Apple, however, withdrew the beta version of the update it launched for developers immediately after the June 4 keynote at the WWDC, reportedly, because it bricked some Apple Watch devices.
For those who may not know, a device is said to be bricked when its software has got corrupted beyond repair.
So, let’s just go right ahead and check out all the new features and upgrades that we can expect on this latest version of the Apple Watch software.
Activity app competitions
The most exciting update to the Activity App is the inclusion of Competitions, a feature that makes fitness more competitive and, hence, more effective.
It will allow you to challenge your friends to “Close the Rings” over a period lasting seven days, throughout which you’ll receive notifications, informing you about your competition’s progress and motivating you to keep at it.
Activity app’s new Awards tab
Whoever manages to accumulate the most points and closes the maximum number of rings in the Activity App, over the seven-day course of the competition, will be declared the winner and awarded a special medal in the new Awards tab of the Activity App.
Start workout/end workout reminder
Another handy feature in the Activity App is the ‘start workout” and “end workout” notifications, especially for the absentminded types, who are likely to forget to start, or even stop, their workouts on their Apple Watch device.
Addition of 2 new workouts – Hiking and Yoga
The workouts app of the watchOS 5 now has two new exercises, Hiking and Yoga, added to it, taking the total number of workouts in the app to fourteen.
In both the workouts, the app will monitor the number of calories you burn during your exercise minutes.
Automatic workout detection
One of the biggest upgrades to the workouts app is the automatic workout detection feature, which Apple claims is designed for the “most popular workouts on Apple Watch,” including running, walking, rowing, swimming, and elliptical.
Based on your heart rate and movement, the automatic workout detection feature can sense when you are working out and sends you a notification suggesting the correct workout for you.
Many Apple Watch users forget to stop the workout on their Apple Watch after they have completed their regimen; here again, the feature senses the slowing down of your motion and your heart rate and prompts you to end the exercise.
Automatic workout detection also gives you credit for completed workouts.
Rolling miles (splits of preceding miles)
The Rolling miles feature is another brand new metric on the watchOS 5 Workouts App, which keeps track of your pace for your previous mile, as well as your average and current pace.
The Workout App also boasts a new pace alert for outdoor running that alerts you when you’re ahead or lagging in your pace – a feature that should go down well with outdoor runners.
Cadence tracks the number of steps you’ve taken in a minute (steps per minute, or SPM) as you run or walk, both indoors as well as outdoors.
The new Walkie-Talkie feature of the watchOS 5 allows you to add friends, who are also Apple Watch users, to the app.
Once set up, you can communicate with them over Wi-Fi or LTE through voice messages.
While the walkie-talkie is a new inclusion in the upcoming upgrade, it is not a new idea, though, as Apple was supposed to include this feature in the original Apple Watch, all the way back in 2014.
Apple announces a Walkie-Talkie app for the Apple Watch. Here's a little secret for those Apple history fans: this was actually announced all the way back in 2014, but it never was released. https://t.co/L6sx0jjSlQ
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) June 4, 2018
The Podcasts App is making its debut on the watchOS 5 and it’s a complete no-brainer, as it allows you to stream podcasts directly to your wrist with the help of Siri, and even set it up to automatically sync your favorite podcasts with the app.
Also, a new feature will allow developers to sync music, audiobooks and meditation sessions to the Apple Watch so you can enjoy these third-party offerings offline.
The watchOS 5 brings some improvements to the Siri Apple Watch face, as it will now feature sports scores, maps and heart rate data.
With the help of machine learning, the new Siri watch face will now be able to show you the right cards, based on time, location, and day of the week.
watchOS 5 will also allow you to add third-party Siri cards to the Apple Watch.
Here are some of the other mention-worthy features of the watchOS 5
CONTROL CENTER & NOTIFICATION CENTER
- Access Notification Center from inside apps
- Grouped notifications
- Instant manage notifications
- Access Control Center from inside apps
- Rearrange Control Center toggles
- Airplane mode toggle colors
- Connect directly to a Wi-Fi network
WORLD CLOCK APP
- Different location list color scheme
- Add and remove cities
- Sunrise and sunset text replace glyphs
- New “checking for mail” text on pull to refresh
- New “last updated” text at top of inbox
- View web content previously not viewable on watch
- New Send and cancel buttons when composing new email
- New redesigned buttons when filling in Mail fields
watchOS 5 COMPATIBILITY
The only apparent downside to the watchOS 5 upgrade is its incompatibility with all generations of Apple Watch devices; it is available only for Apple Watch Series 1 and upwards, which means the new Apple Watch Series 4 will ship with the new OS on board.
Plus, you need to have an iPhone 5S, or a later model, with nothing less than iOS 12 onboard, to be able to download the free upgrade.