You’d be forgiven for not giving as many as two shits about new technology this year. There’s a lot going on, 99.9 percent of it bad, leaving scant hours to pick through blogs for fresh meat like the rabid tech vulture you were a blissful year ago. Still, old habits die hard on the day of a September Apple Keynote. Apple really did train the world to have a Pavlovian response to the word “keynote.”
Unsurprisingly, this September Apple Keynote won’t be like those of the past. The pandemic slowed production down in many factories, including those that make iPhone parts, so Apple confirmed that the new generation of iPhone (presumably the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro) will be delayed beyond the traditional September release date and announced at a future Keynote. Still, that leaves a slew of other Apple products about due for upgrades: the Apple Watch, the iPad, and the AirPods in particular.
For this 2020 Keynote, the tech blogs were aflame with rumors about an Apple Watch 6 that tracks blood oxygen levels, a new iPad Air, over-the-ear AirPods, even a new HomePod. What follows is everything worth knowing that Apple actually revealed.
The Apple Watch Series 6, $399
The Apple Watch Series 6 goes hard with health. Understandably, as even outside of the pandemic wellness is all anyone can talk about. It’ll feature a sleep tracker (in case you actually wear a watch when you sleep), a hand-washing timer (very timely for 2020), and blood oxygen tracking (the watch quite literally tracks the color of your blood). Generally speaking, blood oxygen level indicates good or bad breathing and circulation for the heart and lungs. Apple also gave a rundown on Apple Fitness+, a new subscription service for the Apple Watch that goes the way of Peloton, Mirror, and Fight Camp. It’ll sync your Apple Watch with an Apple device that has a watchable screen (your iPhone, your Apple TV) to play a trainer’s workout and also display realtime statistics about your performance as tracked by the watch. It costs $9.99 per month, and though a new Apple Watch purchase comes with three months free, that ain’t cheap.
Beyond health and activity features, the Apple Watch Series 6 comes in four colors: gold and graphite, along with a navy blue and Product Red red. It’s rumored that the Product Red watch actually draws blood to both measure your blood color and become sentient. Kidding, of course; Apple Watches aren’t trying to steal our humanity yet.
Finally, Apple Watch 6 will come with some good watch faces. Save for dual-tone gradients and some customization for pretty bland faces—and the option to have Buzz and Woody fooling around on the face while you tried to check the damn weather forecast—there were few decent options. Now, Apple offers illustrated faces, well-designed numerals to mark the hours, and some really nice and simple two-toned circles. They nearly fill a Swiss-engineering-esque gap in the face gallery.
The Apple Watch 6 is also equipped with a brighter display for sunny days, so if you want to confer with whatever monstrosity you made on Animoji for your watch screen while at the beach or whatever, you can.
And, you can control your children, with family-orientated Apple Watch features.
Release Date: September 18
Apple Watch SE, $279
Like the iPhone SE—simpler but a whole heck of a lot cheaper than the iPhone 11—the new Apple Watch SE will get you through fitness regimens with a good number of features cherry-picked from the better, more expensive watches. There’s a cellular model, too. The SE’s lower price actually makes the “Family Set-Up” for your kids somewhat viable, but we’re still not sure we’ll see kids putting these on their holiday wish lists.
Release Date: September 18
Apple One, from $14.95
To address the onslaught of Apple subscription services, Apple’s offering a bundling plan, starting at $14.95 a month for individuals and $19.95 a month for the fam, that comes with Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and extended iCloud storage. There’s also a premium plan that works for the family and extends the subscriptions to include Apple Fitness+ and News+.
Release Date: End of Year
iPad 8th Gen, $329
The iPad 8th Gen features the new A12 bionic chip, which packs an upgraded CPU and GPU, and helps bring loadtimes down even further. The 8th Gen works with Apple’s full-size keyboard cases and the extended line from Logitech, including the Rugged offshoot, which is a must for kids or the more drop-prone among us. A personal favorite, Apple Pencil, can be used with the 8th Gen. The new iPad continues with the 10.2-inch Retina display and comes at the actually kick-ass price of $329 ($299 with an education discount, which is arguably more important now than ever). As for iPad OS 14, it extends drawing and writing features, allowing you to copy handwritten notes to typed text, as well as copy over fully hand-drawn sketches.
Release Date: September 18
iPad Air, $599
While the 8th Gen iPad got some nice internal upgrades, the iPad Air got a massive overhaul. It now features the more angular design seen with the Pro, and a full screen with no home button (but Touch ID built into the lock button on the side). It comes in new colors, too: rose gold, green, and blue. Screen elements like true tone and lamination will help with the visuals and glare. The new Air also works with the Apple Pencil 2, and there’s an iPad Air version of the Magic keyboard, which allows for a lot more mobility.
Release Date: October
In the only update from this Keynote that really touched on iPhones, Apple revealed that iOS 14 and iPad OS 14 will showcase new app widgets and homescreen modules. Finally. That’ll get released tomorrow.
Release Date: September 16
Now, some catch-up on the last year in Apple. While you weren’t paying close attention to anything but societal demise this spring, Apple went off-script and released an iPhone SE with a single camera for $399—small, lightweight, cheap, and blessed with a home button. Just like old times. Before that, the 2019 Keynote revealed the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, the latter of which marked a better-late-than-never improvement for Apple’s smartphone cameras (still, you just cannot beat the Google Pixel 4). It was a great year for iPads; the relatively cheap iPad 10 incorporated the Apple Pencil, and the new iPad Pro proved to be a beast. The Apple Watch Series 5 got a display that didn’t go dark, as well as a bunch of health and safety improvements. Also in 2019, Apple revamped its AirPods in the form of the AirPods Pro featuring active noise cancellation, and plunged face-first into gaming with Apple Arcade and streaming with Apple TV+. It made a credit card.
The $2 trillion company—oh yes, the pandemic slingshot Apple’s worth to $2 trillion, the first American company to reach that formidable benchmark, proving just how much power it wields over data and communication—diversified its portfolio, you could say.
Up next, the next-gen iPhones. They won’t flip open and closed like the latest Samsung Z Fold 2, or have two screens, one of which pivots, like LG’s baffling new Wing 5G. But they’ll surely have something worth carrying on about.
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