Apple's second major presentation of the COVID era has showcased its new technologies in a way that makes competitor presentations look like amateur hour, with Apple putting more effort into its videos and keynotes than competitors put into entire product lines.
I've been using the beta versions of iOS, iPadOS and watchOS, and they are definitely must-have and impressive, vital updates for every compatible device user, which I'll cover in other articles.
macOS 11 Big Sur wasn't mentioned but this will presumably come next month when the expected new MacBook with Apple Silicon is released.
So, before we get into the details, how can you watch this very cool must-see keynote presentation?
Two new Apple Watch models
Apple started its presentation by showcasing two new Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the new Apple Watch SE, while still selling the Apple Watch Series 3 so that there is an Apple Watch for every price point.
As Apple explains, its Apple Watch Series 6 introduces "a revolutionary Blood Oxygen feature that offers users even more insight into their overall wellness", along with a new S6 System in Package (SIP) based on the A13 processor found in the iPhone 11.
This SIP is said to be 20% faster than the previous model, meaning apps launch 20% faster too. Speculation suggested Apple would increase battery life, but it's still rated at the "same all-day 18-hour battery life", although given the increased performance and new features, in the same size, you can't complain - and there are battery life improvements.
Apple Watch Series 6 boasts faster charging, and will complete a full charge in "under 1.5 hours", while Apple says there is "improved battery life for tracking certain workouts, such as indoor and outdoor runs".
Sadly, the ECG feature is STILL not available in Australia, despite New Zealand already having the feature enabled. Whether this is because of Apple, or the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), or some other reason is unknown, but hopefully this isn't due to the TGA holding things up or making things difficult, because reports have in the past said that Apple hasn't submitted ECG for TGA approval due to TGA regulations.
Hopefully ECG comes in 2020, and if not, in 2021 - I'll contact the TGA and Apple to see if either has any comment or other info to share.
Back to the Apple Watch Series 6, there are new colours, including a dark blue and deep red colour, with new bands - one of my most favourite personalisation features of Apple Watch - while watchOS 7 brings "sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, new workout types, and the ability to curate and share watch faces, encouraging customers to be more active, stay connected, and better manage their health in new ways".
Apple has also introduced a new always-on altimeter, and in what is definitely great news, there's an enhanced always-on display that is "up to 2.5 times brighter than Apple Watch Series 5 outdoors when the user's wrist is down, making it much easier to see a watch face in bright sunlight. When their wrist is down, the user can also now access Notification Centre and Control Centre, tap on complications, and swipe to change faces without having to wake their watch screen".
“Apple Watch Series 6 completely redefines what a watch can do,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “With powerful new features, including a Blood Oxygen sensor and app, Apple Watch becomes even more indispensable by providing further insight into overall well-being.”
A very cool new Fitness+ app and service is also available, costing $14.99 per month in Australia or $199.99 per year with a three month free trial for those purchasing new Apple Watch models.
Apple Watch Series 6 GPS starts at AUD $599, with the GPS + Cellular model starting at $749, with availability from Friday 18 September.
The new Apple Watch SE is based on the Apple Watch Series 4. There's no ECG and no always on display, but this is a great upgrade for older Apple Watch users, being "up to two times faster than the Apple Watch Series 3", starting at $429 for the GPS model and the GPS + Cellular model starting at $499.
The Apple Watch Series 3 remains on sale with the GPS model only "from $299".
There's also a new Family mode that works with Apple Watch Series 4, SE and up, which allows parents to manage their children's Apple Watches even if their children don't have iPhones, with special new modes for focused learning, and just shows how incredibly integrated Apple's ecosystem is.
Two new iPads
Then there are two new iPads - the 8th-gen iPad with 10.2-inch screen and A12 processor, boasting claimed speeds of up to 2x faster than the best selling Windows laptop, up to 3x faster than the best selling Android laptop and up to 6x faster than the best selling Chromebook.
All of the world's major app development, AR, accessories are more are happening on iPads, not Windows, Android or Chromebooks, and this simply cannot be argued with. The A12 Bionic processor promises "40% faster CPU performance and twice the graphics capability" compared to the 7th-gen iPad from last year, we're talking a great performance boost for Apple's entry-level iPad.
iPadOS 14 is a huge improvement with much smarter use of Siri, notifications, handwriting recognition and ability to write anywhere you can type and tons more, making competing tablets and old-fashioned computers look out-of-date, and that's just with Apple's entry level model!
Pricing starts at $499 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model and $699 for the Wi-Fi and Cellular model, with higher prices for the 128GB model, and it's naturally compatible with the original Apple Pencil and the smart keyboards.
Education is also available, with the 32GB Wi-Fi starting at $469, and cheaper education pricing for the pencil and keyboards, too, ensuring the iPad is a much more attractive proposition that Windows and Android tablets, and Chromebooks.
Then there's the new iPad Air, which takes its styling cues from the iPad Pro, bringing the stunningly powerful A14 Bionic processor that is Apple's fastest chip yet, with USB-C, 2nd-gen Apple Pencil compatibility, a 10.9-inch screen with tiny bezels, a new TouchID fingerprint reader inside the power button, with 40% faster CPU, 30% graphics and 10x faster machine learning than the previous iPad Air.
Available in space grey, silver, rose gold, and new green and sky blue colours.
The 64GB model with Wi-Fi starts at $899 and the Wi-Fi + Cellular model starts at $1099.
The 256GB model starts at $1129 and the Wi-Fi + Cellular model starts at $1329.
The Apple Pencil 2nd-generation and Smart Keyboards cost extra.
There's no word yet on when the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models will also get the new A14 Bionic processor, presumably this will come later this year, and at higher prices, but with the most advanced features that are yet to be unveiled. There's also no word on a next-gen iPad mini in iPad Air styling, presumably that update will come in 2021.
Apple One Bundles
Then there are Apple's new Apple One bundles, which Apple is billing as "the easiest way to get all of Apple’s subscription services in one simple plan, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and iCloud".
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of Internet Software and Services said: "Apple One makes enjoying Apple subscription services easier than ever, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud, and more. With Apple One, you can access the best of Apple entertainment across all your favourite devices with one simple subscription.”
Coming "this spring", there's an individual plan with Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for A$19.95 per month.
Family includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of iCloud storage for A$25.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.
Premier, which is going to be available in Australia at launch, and is the plan I'll personally be taking up as I already pay for 2TB of iCloud storage and Apple Music, will include Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2TB of iCloud storage for A$39.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.
I'm already paying $14.99 per month for my 2TB Apple iCloud plan and $17.99 per month for the family Apple Music plan, which is already A$32.98 per month, so to get Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ AND the new Apple Fitness+ for just $6.97 per month extra is an incredible bargain, especially with family access, and I'll be upgrading immediately.
Apple says its Individual plan offers a savings of over A$9.50 per month, the Family plan offers a savings of over A$12.50 per month, and the Premier plan offers a savings of over A$39 per month, with the savings based on standard monthly pricing, so it's obvious this is going to be hugely popular with Apple users and will provide a gigantic boost to Apple's services revenues.
Conclusion - iPhone 12 and new MacBook still to come!
All of this and we still don't have the expected four new iPhone 12 models, nor the new Apple Silicon based Apple Macs.
The 2020s are definitely going to be Apple's decade, with Apple to solidify its position in ways that Google, Microsoft and others can only dream of.
Apple continues to be the most important technology company in human history thus far, with technology driving forward the modern era and leading the way.
Competitors will scramble to copy, but there's a reason why Apple is the best, and today's must-see September 2020 keynote is just yet another example.
Thank you for reading this far - here's the keynote again, it truly is a must-watch event!