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Posts tagged with "Apple Watch Ultra"

Apple Announces Plans to Pause Sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in the Wake of ITC Ruling

In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple said that it “pausing” sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States, beginning later this week. Neither model of Watch will be available on Apple’s online store starting December 21st, and the company will no longer sell them at retail locations after December 24th. The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission earlier this year that was the result of an intellectual property complaint filed by Masimo, a medical technology company.

Apple and Masimo have been locked in disputes over the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor for years, which Masimo says infringes patents it holds. The dispute is the subject of a federal court lawsuit and the complaint filed with the ITC, which ruled in Masimo’s favor in October. That decision is subject to executive review by the Biden administration and could be vetoed, but time is running out, and vetos are historically rare.

If President Biden doesn’t veto the ITC’s ruling by Christmas, the ruling will stand. Apple could appeal the ITC’s decision in federal court, but that won’t impact the ban on U.S. sales of the two Apple Watch models, according to 9to5Mac. Apple could also settle with Masimo and license its technology or try to find a way to work around Masimo’s patents.

If I had to guess what’s going on here, I’d say it’s a high-stakes game of corporate chicken. Masimo got a ruling from the ITC that gave it leverage, so they asked for a big licensing deal. The Biden administration probably doesn’t want to deal with the dispute or look like it’s bailing out a big tech company, so I bet it told the parties to work things out, assuming Apple would pay up. Whether it ultimately will, only Apple knows, but it’s decided to force the Biden administration’s hand on the veto. If the ruling is vetoed, Apple’s existing court fight with Masimo continues, and the Series 9 and Ultra 2 go back on sale on December 26th. If not, the company still has the option to settle, which I have to imagine is preferable to pulling products from shelves for a potentially extended period of time.


Apple’s September 2023 Event: All The Small Things

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple covered a lot of ground today, and since the event concluded, more details have emerged about everything announced. We’ve been combing Apple’s product pages, social media, and other sources to learn more about the new iPhones, Apple Watches, and services, which we’ve collected below:


Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

AirPods Pro

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

  • The new AirPods Pro (2nd generation) include a USB-C port for charging and can be charged by connecting the earbuds directly to an iPhone with a USB-C port
  • The AirPods Pro case is now IP54-rated for added dust protection.
  • The AirPods Pro update supports Lossless Audio at low latency for use with the Apple Vision Pro.
  • An eagle-eyed person on Mastodon spotted an iPod HiFi in the keynote.
  • The AirPods Pro and Apple Watch can be charged by plugging their charger into an iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, or 15 Pro Max phone.

You can follow all of our September 2023 Apple event coverage through our September 2023 Apple event hub or subscribe to the dedicated September 2023 Apple event RSS feed.

The Apple Watch Ultra Needs More Band Choices

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

It was a warm, humid morning in North Carolina when I went out for a run today. I came back a sweaty mess, which got me thinking about my Apple Watch Ultra.

I’m no mountaineer, but I love the Ultra’s long battery life and big screen. It’s been my constant health and fitness companion for everything from sleep tracking to a variety of workouts. However, there’s one thing in particular that I miss from the standard Apple Watch: band choices.

The last thing I wanted to do after a post-run shower was put my Apple Watch Ultra back on with its soggy Alpine Loop band. So, I did what’s become a regular post-run habit of swapping bands and tossing the sweaty one in the laundry. Besides the Starlight Alpine Loop that came with my Ultra, I have a Black/Gray Trail Loop. Of the two, I like the Trail Loop better because the Alpine Loop’s clasp sometimes digs into my wrist as I type. However, I use both regularly because one is almost always waiting for me to do a load of laundry.

I’ve been running more. As a result, my two bands have begun to dictate when my laundry gets done, whether I have much else to wash or not. That led me to Apple’s website to buy a third band, where I was immediately struck by the lack of choices.

A small selection of the many band options for the standard Apple Watch. Source: Apple.

A small selection of the many band options for the standard Apple Watch. Source: Apple.

If you own the standard Apple Watch, you have dozens of options at a wide variety of price points. Apple offers the Sports Loop, Braided Solo Loop, the Solo Loop, the Nike Sports Band and Loop, two types of leather bands, stainless steel bands, and Hermès bands at price points from $49 for many models to $599 for the Hermès Orange/Blanc Swift Leather Casaque Double Tour. There are so many bands for the standard model that there’s an entire website and app dedicated to collectors of the bands, which makes sense because, after all, the Watch is a wearable that’s not just a wrist computer. It’s also a fashion accessory.

Three may be company, but it's not enough for Watch bands. Source: Apple.

Three may be company, but it’s not enough for Watch bands. Source: Apple.

So why, with so many standard Apple Watch bands, are there just three models in three colors at a single price point for Apple Watch Ultra owners? Looking at the Sports Band alone, there are nine options available for the standard Apple Watch. I really don’t get it. I like the three choices offered for the Ultra, but I’d like more colors, styles, and price options. I certainly don’t think the limited choice is because the Ultra has been a flop because I see them when I’m out all the time.

I recognize that I could buy a band from a third-party company. Perhaps that’s what I’ll end up doing because what I really want is something akin to the Sports Band that can be cleaned without putting it in the laundry. Alternatively, I may start using my collection of standard Apple Watch bands. They work, but I don’t think they look great with the Ultra’s big watch face, so that’s not ideal either.

Why aren't there special edition bands for the Ultra too? Source: Apple.

Why aren’t there special edition bands for the Ultra too? Source: Apple.

What I would prefer is an Ultra band update schedule comparable to the standard Watch. Apple has made it a tradition of refreshing bands in the fall and spring and issuing special editions, like the Black Unity and Pride Edition models, at other times of the year. I expect we’ll see new bands for the Ultra this fall, and while I’m sure the Ultra market is significantly smaller than the original Watch’s, my wish for 2024 is to not have to wait another full year for new Ultra bands.

Accounting for What the Apple Watch Ultra Can’t Track

Every runner who has used a fitness tracker has a moment at some point that is similar to Victoria Song’s at this year’s New York City Half Marathon, where she was unable to beat her time from the year before:

I’d been running for nearly two hours in freezing temperatures, straight into the wind. The Apple Watch Ultra on my left wrist buzzed to tell me I’d just passed mile nine. On my right wrist, the Garmin Forerunner 265S said I’d only run 8.55 miles. A short-ish distance ahead, I could see the official mile nine marker. I had no idea which distance was “true.”

As someone who has had a borderline obsessive relationship with tracking personal fitness metrics at times, I can relate to wondering about the ‘true’ distance of a run. If you run the same route over and over, you’d think the distance would always be the same, but it’s not. As Song explains in her story for The Verge, the truth is much more complicated:

Altogether, the additional L5 signal is cross-referenced with data from Maps and Wi-Fi for what Mayor calls hyper-accurate GPS. It’s important to maintain a healthy skepticism, but it’s hard to argue that this method doesn’t deliver freakishly accurate location data. For instance, the Ultra (plus Series 8, SE, and any watch running watchOS 9) can automatically detect when you arrive at a running track. It also knows which lane you’re running in without calibration. If I hadn’t tried it out myself — multiple times, mind you — I’d be inclined to think it’s too good to be true.

Ultimately, Song attributes her slower 2023 time to the mental exhaustion of losing her mother to ALS in 2021. Her story is an excellent reminder that humans are complicated. We’re not robots, and although the data collected by our devices can help us become fitter, they can’t track everything, so it pays to listen to your body as well as your gadgets.


Pedometer 5.0 Update Adds Map-Based Workouts, Live Activities, Accessibility Improvements, and Apple Watch Ultra Integration

David Smith announced the release of Pedometer++ 5.0 today, and it looks like a big one. Smith says 5.0 has been rewritten from the ground up using SwiftUI and includes:

  • Dynamic Type support
  • Workout tracking, which was previously Watch-only, is now available on the iPhone too
  • Live Activities that display distance and duration data or a map and distance preview are available in multiple styles
  • Map-based routes can be added by transferring GPX files to the iPhone app using the iOS share sheet, which then syncs them to your Apple Watch
  • Saved and favorite routes can be added to the Apple Watch too
  • Once on the Watch, routes can be used in a new maps-based workout tracking mode, which displays them live
  • The Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button can be used to start a walk quickly or to switch between map and metric views in the Watch app

I’m looking forward to giving this update a try. I’ve enjoyed using Footpath’s map integration as I explore North Carolina, and I’m curious to see how the apps compare.

Pedometer++ 5.0 is available as a free download on the App Store. Some features, including workouts, require a subscription.


Oceanic+ for the Apple Watch Ultra Arriving Today

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Oceanic+, the dive computer app for the Apple Watch Ultra that was previewed at Apple’s September press event will be available today. The app, developed by Huish Outdoors in collaboration with Apple, takes advantage of the Ultra’s depth gauge and water temperature sensors and can be used by divers at depths of up to 40 meters.

According to Apple’s press release:

Oceanic+ was designed to assist anyone looking to dip a toe into the adventures that await in the underwater world. The app teams up with Apple Watch Ultra to handle all of the complex calculations required to explore the ocean safely, offering simple, easy-to-understand cues and guidance before, during, and after a dive.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The collaboration between a third party and Apple on an app is unusual but makes sense given Huish’s diving expertise and Apple’s desire to jump-start development of Apple Watch Ultra apps. I’m not a diver, but judging by the screenshots, Oceanic+ is one of the most detailed Watch apps I’ve seen. The app has a pro feel and is free to download, but features like decompression tracking, tissue loading, the location planner, and unlimited logbook capacity cost $9.99 per month or $79.99 annually. There’s also a Family Sharing option for $129/year.

I’m curious whether a ‘pro’ Watch app market develops around the Apple Watch Ultra. It makes sense for specialized activities like diving, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we also see more advanced health and fitness apps emerge in other categories that take advantage of the Ultra’s unique set of features and sensors.

Apple Executives Explain How Crash Detection Works

In an interview with TechCrunch’s Brian Heater, Apple’s vice president of Sensing & Connectivity, Ron Huang, and vice president of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing, Kaiann Drance explain how the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro and Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra detect car crashes. A big part of the equation is the new gyroscopes and accelerometers the devices use. The accelerometers measure G Force, while the gyroscopes detect speed changes. Other sensors come into play, too, including the barometer, GPS, and microphone, as well as Bluetooth and CarPlay.

Not every sensor needs to be triggered to detect a crash, although multiple data points are necessary. As Huang explained:

There’s no silver bullet, in terms of activating crash detection. It’s hard to say how many of these things have to trigger, because it’s not a straight equation. Depending how fast the traveling speed was earlier, determines what signals we have to see later on, as well. Your speed change, combined with the impact force, combined with the pressure change, combined with the sound level, it’s all a pretty dynamic algorithm.

The system will also try to make calls to emergency services first using your mobile provider and will fall back to any other networks as necessary. The crash detection feature will be connected to Apple’s upcoming satellite service when it becomes available to handle the situation where no mobile network is available too.

For more details on how crashes are detected and the testing that went into developing the feature, be sure to read Brian Heater’s story. Also, it’s worth noting that TechCrunch’s interviews appear to have been done before recent reports emerged of roller coasters setting off the crash detection feature.


David Smith Tests the Apple Watch Ultra on a Three-Day Hike in Scotland

David Smith, the developer of Widgetsmith, Watchsmith, Pedometer++, and many other apps, put the new Apple Watch Ultra through its paces on a three-day hike through the Scottish Highlands. Dave confirmed what I’ve suspected all along. The Apple Watch isn’t so much an extreme sports watch as it is an Apple Watch with expanded capabilities that make it work better for strenuous activities like a three-day hike but also make it the best Apple Watch for the things an Apple Watch already does. As he puts it:

While I was putting together this review I kept coming back to the analogy that the Ultra is like a pick-up truck. Useful in regular, daily life but capable of heading offroad or carrying gravel from the garden store. It still drives like a regular car, but can do more.

Dave’s post is accompanied by a video journal of his trip shot on an iPhone 14 Pro. The video is full of great insights into the Ultra’s hardware, a couple of criticisms of its software, and loads of beautiful footage of the Scottish Highlands.