At the recent Wanderlust event, Apple introduced the highly anticipated Apple Watch Series 9, offering a glimpse of its enhanced performance, on-device Siri processing, and a novel gesture known as Double Tap. With prices starting at $399 (£399, AU$649), the Series 9 is already available for preorders, ahead of its official release on September 22. Let’s delve into the details:
A Boost in Performance
Apple continues its commitment to delivering a faster and more responsive user experience with the Series 9. This is achieved through an upgraded processor, which takes center stage in the Series 9’s feature enhancements. Notably, the processor significantly contributes to the introduction of Double Tap and on-device Siri processing.
Introducing Double Tap
One of the standout features of the Series 9 is the new gesture called Double Tap. This innovative way of interacting with the watch allows users to perform tasks without even touching the screen. Simply tap your index finger and thumb together twice on your watch hand, and you can accomplish actions such as answering calls. This gesture aims to simplify watch usage, especially when your other hand is occupied. It resembles the double pinch gesture in the Apple Watch’s existing accessibility mode, Assistive Touch.
The implementation of Double Tap is enabled by the enhanced Neural Engine in the Apple Watch Series 9. This engine processes data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor using a new machine learning algorithm. The algorithm identifies subtle wrist movements and changes in blood flow that occur when the index finger and thumb execute a double tap. It’s worth noting that this gesture will be available after an October software update.
Enhanced Siri Performance
With the Series 9, Siri’s performance gets a boost, thanks to on-device processing. This means Siri responds more swiftly, as requests no longer need to be sent to the cloud. Moreover, users can now pose health-related questions to Siri, such as inquiring about their sleep duration. Given the Apple Watch’s role as a health and fitness tracker, this feature is particularly valuable. Processing data locally on the device enhances security, which is crucial for health-related queries.
Seamless Integration with Home Pod and Precision Finding
Apple also introduces new integrations between the Apple Watch and Home Pod, enabling users to view media playing on their devices from their wrists. Additionally, Precision Finding, which enhances the location accuracy of the iPhone 15 using an updated ultra-wideband chip, is coming to the Series 9.
Colors and Sustainability
The Series 9 offers an array of colors, including pink, starlight (white), silver, midnight (black), and Product Red, a special edition color contributing to the Global Fund’s fight against AIDS and COVID-19. The stainless steel edition features gold, silver, and graphite options.
Apple emphasizes sustainability by making the Series 9 its first carbon-neutral product. Additionally, the battery incorporates 100% recycled cobalt for the first time.
A Focus on Usability
In 2023, Apple places a strong emphasis on usability improvements for both hardware and software updates. This focus was evident in the introduction of WatchOS 10, which brought widgets to the Apple Watch. These widgets offer context-specific information, streamlining the process of accessing vital data without the need to switch between apps and watch faces.
Apple has been consistently releasing new models alongside its flagship smartwatch to cater to diverse audiences. These efforts include the Apple Watch Ultra for outdoor enthusiasts in 2022 and the budget-friendly Apple Watch SE in 2020, with an updated version in 2022.
While Apple maintains its lead in the global smartwatch market, with a 22% share of shipments in the second quarter of 2023, according to Counterpoint, it’s worth noting that the flagship Apple Watch has seen fewer dramatic changes in recent years. However, rumors suggest a significant overhaul for the Apple Watch’s 10th anniversary in 2024, possibly named the Apple Watch X.
In the meantime, the Apple Watch Series 9 introduces enhancements that promise a snappier, smoother, and more user-friendly smartwatch experience.