Apple announced a lower-cost Apple Watch option to compete with Fitbit.
As expected, Apple has unveiled the next model of Apple Watch—the Apple Watch Series 6—in some flashy new colors, as well as a less-expensive alternative, the Apple Watch SE. As with other recent Apple Watch updates, the Series 6 is focused primarily on adding new health-monitoring features, like blood-oxygen monitoring, as well as personal customization options, while the Apple Watch SE offers a faster, newer alternative for those looking to spend a bit less. Both can now work without being paired to an iPhone via Apple’s new Family setup feature.
Powered by Apple’s new S6 processor, the Series 6 has a dual-core processor based on the company’s A13 Bionic chip. Along with a faster processor, the watch gets an improved always-on display that’s two times brighter than the Series 5. Rounding out the new hardware is an always-on altimeter.
All this upgraded hardware powers newly announced features like the Blood Oxygen app. This app lets users measure their blood-oxygen saturation in just 15 seconds and takes readings periodically throughout your waking and sleeping life. All of this is aimed at keeping track of respiratory and cardiac health to monitor asthma symptoms and potential heart problems, for example. Apple has partnered with the Seattle Flu Study, the University of California Irvine, and Anthem to help develop three new research studies, including how to better manage asthma, using data to prevent heart failure, and how changes in blood oxygen and heart rate can indicate early signs of health problems, as in the onset of COVID-19 infection, for instance.
Apple has also introduced its first fitness service built specifically around the Apple Watch. Called Fitness+, it lets you choose workouts on your Apple TV and have them pop up on your watch with the countdown and tracking info specific to that workout. Workouts include yoga, cycling, dance, treadmill, HIIT, rowing, and also mindful cool-downs. New workouts are added every week. Fitness+ will be $10 a month or $80 for the year, available to your entire family, and will come with three free months with the purchase of a new Apple Watch Series 3 or later.
With the launch of the Apple Watch SE, Apple has also taken into account those who don’t have iPhones—specifically older and younger family members (but not anyone looking to hook up an Apple Watch with an Android device, sorry). With Family Setup, up to five family members can have Apple Watches set up through your iPhone and controlled with certain location-based and contact-restrictive features like those offered in current family features for iPhone.
There’s also a scattering of new customizable and interactive watch faces and a couple new bands, including new leather and silicone options. Watch faces now include interactive Memojis and illustrations by Geoff McFetridge, as well as customizable stripes and patterns to match your clothes or favorite sports teams. A few new functional watch faces also make their introductions, including the Count-Up face (which keeps track of multiple lap times) and the Chronograph watch face (which has multiple time scales).
As far as new bands go, Apple is offering a stretchable, continuous band, which comes in seven different colors. The company also announced a new braided leather band with a few new colors of its own.
The Apple Watch Series 6 will be available starting September 18 and will be priced from $399 for GPS and Wi-Fi only and $499 with cellular connectivity added. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch SE is available today from $279 and $329, respectively. The Series 6 can he had in blue aluminum, gold stainless steel, graphite stainless steel, and PRODUCT(RED) red, while the Apple Watch SE comes in black, silver, and gold aluminum options.