Apple’s first physical launch event in two years did not have a lot of surprises other than the fact that the event itself was in hybrid mode if you consider that most of it, except for the cameo by CEO Tim Cook at the beginning, was pre-recorded to be streamed across the world. There were four iPhone 14s, two of them with the Pro branding which now sport a newer processor along with better cameras, three Apple Watches, including a new Ultra version, and the latest AirPods Pro coming in three years after the first of its kind.
For me, there were three products and features that stood out amongst the stuff that was announced Wednesday at the Steve Jobs Theatre. Here’s that list and why I think these products have made it to that list.
This new top-of-the-line Apple Watch is supposed to be meant for athletes and outdoor freaks who push the limits of endurance every day. The new Apple Watch Ultra has a slightly bigger body, larger battery, rugged build, an extra activity button on the left and lots of specs that are way better than the regular Apple Watch. So while this might be the ultimate wearable for that weekend mountain hike, I suspect a lot of regular Apple Watch users would also want to pay the extra money and upgrade to this one given that it immediately will make them stand out in the crowd. The Apple Watch has long been the most popular watch model in the world. Despite a price that puts it on the same footing as the new iPhone 14, this will surely be a popular device, especially since Apple hasn’t pushed the envelope with the regular Apple Watch this time.
Don’t let the name put you off, that is just Applese for what it has done to the floating notch in the new iPhone 14 Pros. In fact, Apple has wonderfully turned the notch–which gets its share of negative vibes with each iteration– into an opportunity to create something new. Apple’s dynamic island incorporates the negative space of the front-facing camera but builds space around it to give alerts, notifications, directions and other cues in a very natural way. All of this blends into the UI so well that I got the sense this could end up being like the home button soon. In fact, Apple has gone a step ahead and used the space to showcase two bubbles if one is multitasking. And since this feature is open for developers to work on, the possibilities are endless.
The demo zone at the Steve Jobs Theatre can be a pretty noisy place soon after an Apple keynote. So it is a good place to test out the noise cancelling on the new AirPods Pro. In fact, with the new version, your Apple Watch can show the ambient sound levels and the range after noise cancelling has been switched on. During the demo, I felt all the drone of journalists and content creators getting their hands full in the hands-on zone drown out leaving me with just my thoughts. That’s quite hard to achieve with so much chatter around you. In fact, soon I was enjoying the music being played on the phone and trying to figure out what the person giving the demo was trying to tell me. Now, you can adjust volume and switch on transparency using the stem of the AirPods. The ability to find the precise location on the charging case using the phone also seems like a good feature to have.
Disclaimer: The author is in Cupertino at Apple’s invite