More New Apple Hardware

Of course. Gotta release a new iPhone every year, right?

New watches, new AirPods, and new iPhones.

Allow me to summarize:

The Series 8 watches add a temperature sensor to allow ovulation tracking to the existing cycle tracking. Worthwhile for that large fraction of the potential user base that’s going to find it relevant. Kudos to Apple for continuing to enhance that feature, though I do find it a little odd that that’s what they chose to lead off with.

The Series 8 can also detect if you’ve been in an auto accident and–as with the longstanding fall detection–contact emergency services and contacts.

Hey, we’ve got a new definition of “all day”. Apparently that’s 18 hours. Seriously? You can’t even go one day without charging it?

Oh, wait, there’s a new “low power” mode that sacrifices some features to give you 36 hours between charges. I guess that’s nice if you don’t use the sacrificial victims. And it’s all done in software, so it’ll also apply to the Series 4, 5, 6, and 7 watches once they’re updated to WatchOS 9. Good to know they haven’t forgotten the older devices.

And there is, of course, a new Apple Watch SE for the cheapskates among us. Adds the crash detection, but it’s unclear whether it also adds the temperature sensors.

But the big–in every sense of the word–watch news is the Apple Watch Ultra. Larger than any previous Apple Watch. It’s got a new button, a frame that actually protects the edges of the crystal, and 36 hours of battery life without the low power mode. How about a dive computer? Built in.

Apple’s calling this thing “an essential tool for essentially anything”. Can I use it to open a bottle of beer? Probably not–but I’m sure someone will try. But really, does it seem like Apple is painting themselves into a corner by calling it the “Ultra”? I mean, a few years from now, what will they call the top-end successor watch? The “Mega”?

Anyway. On to the new AirPods.

No ultra here, just a new iteration of AirPods Pro. Better spatial audio (uses the camera in your iPhone to map the size and shape of your head so sound can be placed optimally for your unique body. Better noise cancelation, four tips instead of the previous three, better transparency mode (apparently it uses some noise cancelation to eliminate obnoxious noises while letting other environmental sounds through–that seems a bit risky somehow; do we really want it hiding things like construction noise while we’re walking down the street immersed in our phones?)

And then we get to the iPhones.

Brace yourselves: it would seem that the iPhone Mini is dead. Instead of Mini, iPhone, Pro, and Pro Max, we’re getting iPhone, Plus, Pro, and Pro Max. The regular iPhone 14 is a hefty 6.1 inches, and that Plus is a staggering 6.7 inches. Shades of phablets past! Of course, it’s taller and skinnier than a tablet form factor–don’t want to compete directly with the iPad Mini, naturally.

The 14 and 14 Plus will be using the A15 chip from the ancient iPhone 13 Pro. Improved cameras, of course. 5G, naturally.

Remember how Apple killed the floppy disk and the headphone jack? Now they’re killing the SIM tray. iPhone 14 will be eSIM only. That’s going to be an interesting educational challenge: millions of people still believe that the SIM card stores their contacts, despite the fact that that hasn’t been the case for at least a decade.

Hey, the 14 series has the same crash detection sensors as the new watches. And–wait for it–satellite connectivity. So even if you don’t have cellular service, you (or your phone acting on your behalf) can contact emergency services. And for less critical functions like “Find my iPhone”.

As for the 14 Pro, it comes in purple.

Yes, it’s got all the usual enhancements over the 14 (and 14 Plus) with regard to the cameras, power efficiency, and raw CPU–yes, a new A16 replaces that A15 that’s been handed down to the mainline phones). But, purple!

As for the size, the Pro and the Pro Max are the same as the 14 and 14 Plus, respectively.

Am I the only one who finds it amusing that with the introduction of the 14 series, the price for an iPhone 13 is now the same as for an iPhone 12? That being the case, why are they still selling the 12? Using up inventory? Also noteworthy and somewhat funny: the cost for the “low end” iPhone SE has gone up slightly. The only rationale I can see for buying an SE, rather than paying a bit more for a 12 or 13, is if you have to have the smallest phone available and never take pictures.

Bottom line (you knew this was coming, right?): Back in June, I said I was genuinely looking forward to seeing some of the new software features that’ll be coming in the new operating systems. But the new hardware? I’m “meh” about that. Mostly another round of more of the same, but “bigger…stronger…faster“. And purpler.

4 thoughts on “More New Apple Hardware

  1. At this point in the history of the nation, the last thing any woman needs is ovulation tracking. It’s naive to think that government entities can’t get at data like that once it’s collected, and we are now in a place where multiple states claim the right to decide what a woman can do with her reproductive parts. Believe me, most of us know (or knew) the time of that occurrence every month.

    Beats me why they led with it too, since this has been pointed out a lot since the court decision overturning Roe.

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    • Apple’s position is, I gather, that all the information is encrypted and remains on the device, so there’s no danger. Obviously, there’s plenty of room for disagreement with that. And they’re very carefully positioning the ovulation tracking as being helpful for those trying to conceive. Which is, clearly, a limited subset of their market.

      I don’t currently have an iPhone to check, but my assumption is that the cycle tracking (and thus ovulation tracking) is off by default, since roughly half of their customers have no need for it to be chewing up their batteries.

      And, from a corporate perspective, they do sell a lot of phones outside the U.S. Limiting features based on a single market doesn’t make good business sense, no matter how large that market may be.

      But, again, weird that that was what the chose to talk about first, knowing that it’s controversial.

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