In addition to new smartwatches and tablet computers, Apple has introduced a new personalized workout subscription service.
Fitness + collects health data captured by an Apple Watch and then displays it along with exercise videos that are shown on a larger display.
The platform will compete with existing fitness apps on iOS from Peloton, Les Mills and Fiit.
It’s also a challenge for Fitbit, whose wearables benefit from their own health coaching subscription service.
As many had predicted, Apple decided to hold back details of its next iPhones for a separate event.
Yoga and dance
Like some of its competitors, Fitness + also enables competitive users to see their own efforts compare to others who have previously completed the same fitness routine.
“Health tracking remains an important focus for Apple and its new Fitness + service signals its intention to generate more sales for its products in this area,” commented Leo Gebbie of consulting firm CCS Insight.
Fitness + will initially launch in six countries including the US and UK before the end of 2020.
It costs £ 10 a month or £ 80 a year as a standalone service that can be shared by members of the same family.
Alternatively, it can be purchased along with other Apple services – including iCloud storage, arcade video games, and Apple Music – for around £ 30 per month as part of the top tier of a service package called Apple One.
Other service mixes can be subscribed to for lower fees.
“Having support for 10 different workouts with and without equipment and the fact that they are sold for a family price makes Fitness + very attractive,” said Carolina Milanesi of Silicon Valley-based consulting firm Creative Strategies.
“And I don’t think the bundling with the other services is anti-competitive, as other services do the same – for example, Disney’s Hulu TV service in the US with Spotify.”
However, one personal trainer said he did not see the new service as a competition for one-on-one meetings with an online coach.
“The real results come from the support, accountability and understanding of human behavior and the ability to tailor a fitness program to an individual so that it is sustainable,” Sam Wake told the BBC.
Apple has introduced two new smartwatch series: the high-end series 6 watch and the cheaper Watch SE.
The Series 6 introduces a blood oxygen sensor to treat conditions that affect the heart and lungs.
It measures SpO2 levels, which is how much oxygen is carried by the user’s red blood cells from the lungs to other parts of the body.
Apple suggested that this could potentially serve as a means of detecting the early onset of breathing problems, although the fine print says the feature is “not for medical use.”
Samsung, Huawei, and Fitbit already sell smartwatches that offer the same functionality. However, their ability to offer it depended on approval from local health officials.
The SE model lacks the new sensor and uses a slower processor, but otherwise offers most of the features of the more expensive model.
That includes sleep tracking and a new facility for kids called Family Setup. It can be set to trigger automatic location notifications to a child’s parents when the wearer visits familiar places like their grandparents or school.
It is also possible to assign a unique phone number to a watch instead of using one that already belongs to an iPhone.
“A logical use would be for a parent to give a child an Apple Watch with cellular functionality so they can stay in touch,” commented Gebbie.
“We expect hand-me-down watches to be used in this scenario rather than a device specifically purchased for this purpose.”
The Series 6 starts at £ 379 and SE at £ 269.
Apple’s new iPad Air is the company’s first product to be based on a new method of making chips that promises more processing power and better energy efficiency, as transistors can be packed together more closely than before.
Apple usually puts its new chips in its iPhone before its iPads, but this year the release of its new phones has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company suggested that the A14 processor would make it easier to edit 4K video and track the movement of real objects for augmented reality apps.
The device has a fingerprint sensor built into one of the side buttons to reduce the size of the frames. It also has a USB-C port, which was previously limited to the more expensive iPad Pro range.
The new iPad Air also has a slightly larger screen than before – 27.7 cm (10.9 inches) – but costs £ 100 more from £ 579.
The company also unveiled a new, cheaper base iPad that uses the older A12 chip. It starts at £ 329, which is £ 20 less than before.
Demand for tablets across the tech industry has increased since the coronavirus pandemic began as consumers increasingly used them for entertainment, home teaching and remote working.
According to IDC, shipments from April to July rose 19% year over year, with Samsung, Amazon and Huawei making even bigger gains.
According to IDC, Apple’s iPads continue to lead the market, but only grew by 2% annually.
“Apple has maintained its volume, but its competitors have advanced opportunistically by selling cheaper devices,” commented IDC’s Marta Pinto.
Apple also announced that iOS 14 – the latest version of its mobile operating system – will be released on Wednesday.
This surprised many developers who believed they had more time to submit new versions of their products to the Apple App Store.