First look: Apple Watch 6, Watch SE, iPad Air 2020, Apple One

From watches to tablets plus a bundling approach to subscription-based services, here's the latest.

By Bloomberg News, September 16 2020
First look: Apple Watch 6, Watch SE, iPad Air 2020, Apple One

Apple's overnight launch revealed two new smartwatches, two new iPad tablets and a set of bundles for subscription-based services such as iCloud online storage, Apple Music and Apple TV+, with the next generation of iPhone 12 smartphones soon expected to follow. Let's pull it all together.

Apple Watch Series 6, Watch SE

Apple  announced the Apple Watch Series 6 with additional health features and a new low-end model called the Apple Watch SE as it looks to extend its share of the smartwatch market.

The Apple Watch Series 6, starting at $599, looks similar to last year’s models but adds a faster S6 chip and a new sensor for measuring blood oxygen levels. That adds to the heart rate monitor and electrocardiogram sensors from previous generations, showing the company’s growing focus on health technology.

The new processor is 20 faster than the S5 in last year’s model, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said when announcing the product Tuesday at the company’s virtual event.

The Apple Watch Series 6 also adds new colors, including a blue model, an updated gold finish, a graphite stainless steel option, and a new Product Red version.

Apple said a new blood oxygen app can take a reading in 15 seconds. The company said the measurement is another indicator of a user’s overall health and breathing ability. The company said it is also launching new health studies that leverage the new sensor.

The Series 6 also has a screen that is 2.5 times brighter while in the sun and an always-on altimeter for tracking altitude. The new Watch also has several new faces and bands.

The company also announced a new feature called Family Setup that lets a parent setup their child’s Apple Watch via their iPhone. This is useful for kids who don’t have an iPhone but want an Apple Watch.

The cheaper SE costs $429. It uses the S5 chip from last year’s model. The lower-end device competes more with watches from Fitbit, which has agreed to be acquired by Google.

The Apple Watch has become one of the company’s best-selling devices, making it the biggest contributor to Apple’s wearables and accessories division. That segment generated revenue of US$24.5 billion in fiscal 2019, almost double two years earlier.

The Apple Watch was last updated in September 2019 when the company added an always-on screen and new cases. This is the first year since 2016 that two new models were announced at once.

Earlier this year, Apple announced that watchOS 7, the software that runs on the new models and some previous versions, will add sleep-tracking functionality, dance tracking and hand-wash monitoring.

Updated iPad Air, iPad tablets

The revamp to the iPad Air makes the tablet look like the pricer iPad Pro line by removing long-time features such as the Home Button and adding an edge-to-edge screen.

The updated iPad Air has a 10.9-inch edge-to-edge screen similar to the iPad Pro. That’s up from 10.5-inches on last year’s models, with pricing from $899.

To keep costs down, the iPad Air keeps a Touch ID fingerprint scanner instead of the Face ID facial recognition system used on the iPad Pro. Now that the Home Button is gone, the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the power button on the top of the iPad Air.

A new mid-tier iPad could continue to juice Apple sales as consumers look for devices to help them work and learn from home during the pandemic.

A tablet that looks similar to the iPad Pro but at a lower price could make the new iPad Air a hot holiday season seller. In the fiscal third quarter this year, Apple made US$6.6 billion in sales from the iPad, the most since the 2018 holiday season.

The new model also adds a connector on the back with support for the Magic Keyboard, the trackpad and keyboard case Apple launched earlier this year, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil introduced in 2018.

The latest iPad Air comes in new gold and sky blue color options. It also uses the USB-C connector from the iPad Pro instead of the Lightning port used on the previous iPad Air. It has a 12 megapixel back camera and stereo speakers.

Apple has also added the A14 processor to the iPad Air, an upgrade from the A12 chip in last year’s model. The company said the new model is 40% faster than its predecessor.

Apple on Tuesday also updated the entry-level $499 iPad geared toward students with an A12 chip, up from the A10. The new iPads go on sale Thursday, Apple said.

Apple launched the first iPad Air in 2013 as the fifth version of the full-sized iPad, but then shifted away from the line in recent years as it focused on the iPad Pro. It brought back the iPad Air in March 2019 alongside the iPad mini, which was not updated on Tuesday.

Apple One subscription bundles

Apple also unveiled a series of subscription bundles, a long-awaited move that Wall Street hopes will spur more growth in services revenue.

At an online event on Tuesday, the company said it will launch Apple One subscriptions that combine several services – including Apple Music, Apple TV+ and iCloud storage – at a lower price than users would pay if they bought each service individually.

The bundles start at $20 a month for a tier including Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, and 50 GB of iCloud storage. That lower tier will also have a $25 version for families. A Premier tier costs $40, adding Apple News+, Apple Fitness+ and 2TB of iCloud storage.

The offerings are geared toward families, meaning they will work with Apple’s Family Sharing system that provides access to as many as six people for each service.

The Apple One Individual plan offers savings of more than $9.50 a month, while the Family plan saves over $12.50 per month, the company said in a statement. The Premier plan saves over $39 a month, based on standard monthly pricing, Apple added.

Apple also announced a new online workout service called Apple Fitness+, which offers users video classes for workouts.

This will integrate with the Fitness app on the iPhone and Apple TV, and requires an Apple Watch. The service will compete with offerings from Peloton Interactive., which sells subscriptions to its fitness service that run in apps and on its workout equipment.

Apple’s services segment is one of the company’s fastest growth areas and has become a US$50 billion-a-year business.

While services like those for advertising and AppleCare were down in recent quarters due to the impact of Covid-19, digital offerings like the App Store, iCloud and video products set records

Some of Apple’s newer services, including News+ and TV+, have started slowly. By bundling them at a discount with more popular services, usage and subscriptions could increase.

This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here

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