Apple Reveals New Watches, Muscular Tablet at Online Event

Tim Cook kicks off Apple's September 2020 online eventWomen in Tech: 20 Trailblazers Share Their Journeys Successful women in the tech trenches share their insights and tackle subjects ranging from how to search out a strong mentor to how to be one -- from how to advance in a large company to how to start your own firm. Get the Kindle or Paperback . Apple pulled the wraps off two new Apple Watches, two iPads and several services bundles at an event Tuesday held online. The new watches include the Series 6, which boasts performance improvements over the previous generation of the product and will sell for US$399, and the SE, an economy watch model, which will sell for $279. Apple will also continue to offer its Series 3 watches for $199.

Militaries are now using virtual reality to train soldiers in ways that will help better prepare them when they are actually deployed in combat.

Apple also refreshed its basic iPad and the iPad Air, which is now based on the new A14 processor, a five-nanometer fabricated powerhouse.iPad Air New Design

iPad Air New Design

In addition, the company revealed Apple One. It offers bundles of Apple services, ranging from $14.95 to $29.95. "Thanks to the launch of two new Apple Watches, Apple will broaden the reach of its wearable products and will stay way ahead of Samsung and other competitors," said Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. "With this launch, Apple demonstrated once again that it excels at creating experiences that are relevant in the daily lives of its customers," he told TechNewsWorld. "The Apple Watch is also a great catalyst to pivot its strategy to services while continuing to innovate with a new product category that did not exist several years ago," he added.

There are more than 230 companies working on virtual reality products.

Focus on Fitness and Health

The Series 6 watches emphasize fitness and health applications. With Fitness+, Apple combines watch metrics with fitness videos; and with a new health sensor, the watch can measure blood oxygen levels from a user's wrist. "The timing of introducing fitness and health focused products is great, given the pandemic," Bob O'Donnell, founder and chief analyst at Technalysis Research, told TechNewsWorld. "Apple is putting a very big emphasis on health and fitness," added Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in Campbell, Calif. "That's the number one reason people buy these watches in the first place," he told TechNewsWorld.

"Adding things like the blood oxygen oximeter, a faster processor and tying it to Fitness+ makes it, by far, the best fitness monitor, as well as watch, in the market," he added.

As with every creation in the universe, there has to be a humble beginning for everything and VR technology was no exception. Although it’s hard to pinpoint the father of this amazing technology, history suggests that it could have been the innovation of not one but five key individuals. First, Morton Heilig for giving users the very first interactive film experience which can be take the credit as the beginning of 3D content. Then, there’s Jaron Lanier, the first person to credit the term “Virtual Reality”; Douglas Engelbart, who invented the computer mouse and laid the foundation for the modern user interface; Ivan Sutherland, inventor of the first head mounted display (HMD); and Myron Krueger, a computer graphics and audio wiz.

That market will be growing over the next 10 years, as more Apple users find combining a watch with another Apple device irresistible.

In a report posted online last week by Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster, he predicted watch ownership by Apple users will grow from nine percent now to 50 percent in 10 years, which will result in revenues of $50 million a year, compared to $31 million in this calendar year.

Watch Out Peloton!

Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst with Tirias Research, maintained Apple is taking its smart watch to the next level in fitness and health with the Series 6 line.

Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014.

"There's just so much you can do with time-keeping and new watch faces," he told TechNewsWorld.

He noted that with Fitness+, Apple is emulating the success model of fitness-equipment maker Peloton. "Fitness+ let's you work out with instructors that you can watch on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV who encourage you," he explained. "It integrates the watch with the exercise program. It's why people are hooked on Peloton and these other interactive fitness programs."Apple Fitness+ trainers

It's Been Around For Decades. As a whole, virtual reality is not as new as people think it is. While the exact origin is still a mystery, some people credit 19th century French playwright Antonin Artaud as the creative force behind the concept of virtual reality. By the 20th century, researchers began diving deep into the different elements of virtual reality. Toys like the View Master are often regarded as a primitive version of what virtual reality would later become.

Apple Fitness+

"Peloton should be looking over their shoulder," warned Mark N. Vena, a senior analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.

"Peloton services are live while Apple's are prerecorded videos, but I'm sure they'll be top caliber from a production standpoint and very well-calibrated for what level of training you want to take," he told TechNewsWorld.

'Impressive' Oximeter

Apple watchers agree that the addition of blood oxygen monitoring to the Apple Watch's repertoire is a significant upgrade of the product. "I was impressed with the blood oxygen sensor," noted Krewell, of Tirias.

"That's a solid improvement in health reporting," he continued. "It gives everybody another vector to recognize their fitness levels and their ongoing health."

Oculus VR is a company that launched a Kickstarter project to release virtual reality goggles in the 2010s. Their goggles brought a lot of interest to virtual reality after many years of not a lot of interest by industry or consumers.

"It's an avenue where the Apple Watch can make a difference and that's why they're focused on it," he added.

iPad Air New DesignApple Watch Series 6 Blood Oxygen Sensor Moor's Vena maintained that the oximeter sensor is "a really big deal."

"It opens up a number of avenues for better health detection," he said. "It's one more step in allowing smart watches to act as a 24-7 health device, continually monitoring your health."

As important as blood oxygen tracking is to the new watch series, Apple spent more time at its event emphasizing the fitness aspects of the product.

It Makes Playing Sports Thrilling. By now you know that virtual reality can make the sports viewing experience better. As it turns out, virtual reality can make playing sports a better experience, too. There are already simulations on the market that put you in the middle of a sporting contest to see how well you do. There are some additional props required, such as a machine for driving a bobsled down a mountain. It is a cool and one of a kind experience.

"Apple is right to reinforce the positioning of its new Apple Watch Series 6 watch as a fitness and not a medical device," maintained Forrestor's Husson.

Shrewd Strategy

Apple's introduction of a lower cost SE version of its watch may be a shrewd move by the company, according to some analysts.

"It was good to see them do a lower cost watch," observed O'Donnell, of Technalysis.

"Clearly the SE is a reflection of Apple starting to target the lower end of the market more than they ever have," he said. "It's hard to sell a $400 watch with a $400 phone. It makes more sense to have a watch priced as an accessory."

The First Commercial VR Devices – The EyePhone Head-Mounted Displays. In the late 1960s, the virtual and augmented reality terms were coined, describing the field of technology we know today. This also encompassed the appearance of two of the very first commercial virtual reality devices in the 1980s in the face of the EyePhone 1 and the EyePhone HRX. Developed by VPL research, a company by Jaron Lanier, the devices were extremely expensive, costing as much as $9,400 for the 1 version and $49,000 for the HRX. Customers could also buy gloves that costed $9,000. While the devices didn’t really take off, which is understanding, having in mind their price, they were a major step forward in the development of virtual reality haptics and virtual reality goggles and head-mounted displays.

Apple Watch SEApple Watch SE David McQueen, a research director at ABI Research, contends introduction of the SE is an important strategic move by Apple. "It continues to open up the addressable market for the watch to a wider audience, building on affordability in its SE sub-brand products while being positioned as a successor to the Watch Series 3," he told TechNewsWorld. "At a price that is 30 percent cheaper than Watch Series 6, the Watch SE has a similar design and as large a Retina display as Watch 6, including advanced sensors, which provides a compelling combination of features and affordability to target new consumer segments," he added.

The First Computer Virtual and Augmented Reality Headset – The ‘Ultimate Display’ Concept and the Sword of Damocles. If we could name one person as the father of Virtual and Augmented Reality headsets as we know them today, it would without a doubt be Ivan Sutherland. In the 1960s, he described the concept of the ‘Ultimate Display’ that would be able to stimulate reality to a point that the viewer would not be able to tell the difference between the virtual and the real world. His concept included a head-mounted display with 3D sound and tactile feedback, a computer that would create and maintain the virtual world through this device and the ability of a user to interact with objects from the virtual world in a realistic manner. Sutherland later created the first VR/AR head-mounted display, which was connected to a computer and not a camera, known as the Sword of Damocles. However, the contraption he made was too heavy for a person to wear comfortably on their head, so the device had to be suspended from the ceiling. Furthermore, the computer generated graphics were too primitive with wireframe rooms and objects.

Sticky Services

In an unusual move, Apple introduced a product with a new mobile processor that wasn't an iPhone. Bajarin explained that the A14 chip gives the iPad Air, which will sell at a base price of $599, a huge bump in processing power. "It allows it to compete with laptops," he said.

"The fact that they're using five nanometer processing so they can add more transistors to it makes it an even bigger deal," he noted.

"The Air is an amazing product," Krewell added. "Six core processor. More graphics. Full screen. Touch sensor on the top. Neural engine and machine learning acceleration on the CPU. There's a lot there to unpack."

Virtual reality is meant to enhance real life, not replace it.

Apple also introduced at its event Apple One, which offers three bundles of its service packages, selling at $14.94, $19.95 and $29.95.iPad Air New DesignApple One Family of Devices "Apple One will become a key pillar of Apple's successful service strategy," maintained Husson. "By bundling many of its subscription services with aggressive pricing, Apple is likely to reinforce loyalty and stickiness to its ecosystem."