Wednesday, September 7, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Watch Ultra

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple Watch Ultra introduces a 49mm titanium case and flat sapphire front crystal that reveals the biggest and brightest Apple Watch display yet. A customizable Action button offers instant access to a wide range of useful features. Apple Watch Ultra has the best battery life of any Apple Watch, reaching up to 36 hours during normal use. Additionally, a new low-power setting, ideal for multi-day experiences, can extend battery life to reach up to 60 hours. The Wayfinder watch face is designed specifically for the larger Apple Watch Ultra display and includes a compass built into the dial, with space for up to eight complications. Apple Watch Ultra also brings three new bands — Trail Loop, Alpine Loop, and Ocean Band — offering unique design features that provide a secure and comfortable fit for every adventure.

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Apple Watch Ultra has three built-in microphones to significantly improve sound quality in voice calls during any conditions.

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For the first time ever in an Apple Watch, the precision dual-frequency GPS integrates both L1 and the latest frequency, L5, plus new positioning algorithms.

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Backtrack uses GPS data to create a path showing where the user has been, which is useful if they get lost or disoriented and need help retracing their steps. It can also turn on automatically in the background when off the grid. With a single press of the Action button, users can quickly drop a Compass Waypoint or start or view a Backtrack. An 86-decibel siren is designed for emergencies, should users become lost or injured, and can help draw attention to a location.

All models have cellular and start at $799.

Ryan Jones:

So nomenclature definitions.

Pro = fancy high-end
Max = maximum pro’ness
Ultra = over-the-top, ultra-rare use cases
Extreme = no one really needs this, just pushing limits to push limits

Michael Gorbach:

The Apple Watch Ultra’s Action Button is powered by some awesome new App Intents APIs. You will be able to build your own apps to integrate with it, like a hockey app that uses the button to record goals! And for users, the button can kick off any Shortcut you want!

Jason Snell:

Turns out that extreme-sport-focused Apple Watch really is extreme-sport focused. Apple Watch Ultra. I suppose there will be aspirational aspects of this but Apple’s not shying away from the sports messaging.

Alex Roddie:

As someone who has tested countless GPS watches actually designed for mountain use, I’m not impressed by it. 36 hours battery life is pathetic. 65 hours would be just about competitive these days.

And by 65 hours I mean 65 hours of full-burn GPS tracking. I doubt that the Watch Ultra can cope with even a third of this, which makes it years behind the competition.

It’s so painfully obviously a device designed by urban people who want to ‘disrupt’ a market they don’t understand.

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It’s amazingly hard to find any tech that works without frustration in the backcountry. Even Garmin/Suunto devices, designed from the ground up for this stuff, are full of issues and irritations.

Sean Heber:

Well, I will say, this Ultra watch is a much better use of Apple’s vast resources and research than making a solid gold $10,000 “I’m too rich for my own good” edition like they did way back in the day.

Previously:

Update (2022-09-08): Victoria Song (tweet):

As for how that wrist slab feels, it was actually lighter on my wrist than I’d expected, probably because its case is made of titanium. But make no mistake — it is a BIG watch.

Ben Bajarin:

It was surprising how light Apple Watch Ultra is. For me, the size won’t be an issue. I asked why not a smaller size for women and basically they couldn’t pack all the tech into a smaller size.

Nicolas Magand:

I don’t think Apple wants to be the most popular smartwatch brand among “adventurers” or wants to compete with Garmin directly (it has to be a small market overall: Garmin’s fitness division revenue in 2021 was only $1,534 million, which is pretty much pocket change for Apple). Apple wouldn’t mind, and I am pretty sure it is one of the company’s goals. What Apple wants first is to attract a very desirable segment of the population into the Apple ecosystem because Apple knows these people are inspiring, just like creatives.

It can be described, I think, as product placement. But instead of spending money to pay companies or individuals to have a device featured in a movie or on Instagram, Apple spends money creating the product that people making these movies and social media posts will organically buy.

Thomas Ricker:

I’m a longtime Garmin watch fan. Most of my friends and family have all purchased svelte Apple Watches. It’s a great smartwatch but I wanted a great outdoor adventure and fitness watch to pair with my iPhone instead. That’s why I’ve been wearing big hulking Garmin watches like the Fenix and Epix series despite their clumsy software interfaces. I’ve used them to obsessively track and measure my performance in a variety of activities that include kitesurfing, trail running, golfing, weight training, and mountain biking.

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Without a doubt, the Apple Watch Ultra comes up short on a spec comparison with similarly priced devices sold by Garmin, Coros, and others. The battery is the most glaring example: 36, or even 60 hours enabled by a future low-power update, is weak in a category where batteries are measured in weeks. Out of the box it also lacks things like built-in topographical maps needed for trails, or support for Bluetooth power meters and cadence sensors used by cyclists. Apple’s sport features and analytics also pale in comparison to the depth and variety offered by the competition.

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I can say this already though: Garmin’s biggest weak spot is usability. Its high-end watches have tons of features and capabilities that are obscured by complicated software that feels, at times, like operating a scientific calculator. Apple excels at user interfaces, Garmin doesn’t, just like Nokia which struggled in vain to adapt Symbian in response to the iPhone and Android. And given enough time, Apple’s watches will catch up to the specs and features available on Garmin’s flagship watches.

Jason Snell:

I’m not sure how you can underestimate one of the world’s most successful companies, but somehow we managed to do it with Apple regarding Wednesday’s “Far Out” event.

Update (2022-09-09): John C. Welch:

So i know that a lot of the new Watch stuff were aimed at long hikes or what have you, but I want you to think about how those same features contribute to safety in everyday situations.

Not just the obvious, like crash detection et al, but all the new features…

Jonathan Deutsch:

Perspective on the pricing of the WATCH:

• Last year’s Series 7, Titanium, GPS+Cell, 45mm: $𝟴𝟰𝟵 𝗨𝗦𝗗

• This year’s Ultra, Titanium, GPS+Cell, 49mm, AND all other sensors/battery/etc: $𝟳𝟵𝟵 𝗨𝗦𝗗

You could argue it is cheaper than last year!

3 Comments

Bring Apple Watch with NO dependency on iPhone. Add camera and Safari to read QR codes. Then I am sold.

It's going to be very interesting to see what the for people I know with Garmin watches will buy the next time they get a fitness watch.

Wouldn't surprise me if it's an apple watch ultra 3.

So I decided to trade in my S6 on store launch day and pick this up. I'm interested in the battery capacity and better speakers and mics. Sure, it's possible I've got more money than sense, but it doesn't hurt to try it this once and see.

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