Apple Time Flies event: details that slipped through the cracks

At just under an hour, Apple’s ‘Time Flies’ event finished early last Tuesday with no sight of a new iPhone or the classic “One more thing…” phrase to capture the imagination of billions worldwide. Apart from the event, there was some news that somehow slipped through the cracks and did not make it into the spotlight.

Right at the very beginning of the event, Tim Cook made it crystal clear – in a somewhat surprising manner – that this event would primarily be about the Apple Watch and the iPad. As usual, there were some more details that Apple did not bother to trumpet or make a big deal about, and this information surfaced once the event is over.

Apple Watch: More freedom with the activity rings

The Apple Watch is an interesting device that has come through several generations now, and hence it was surprising to hear about additional news concerning the Apple Watch that was not disclosed during the announcement. For example, watchOS 7 will see a redesign of the activity rings by enabling a greater degree of customization. While it is currently possible to set the daily calorie target according to one’s own parameters, Apple has extended this possibility to both training and standing activity rings.

These are now adjustable in the Activity app for the Apple Watch. After launching the app, select “Change Targets” at the bottom of the app as before. From here, you are able to adjust the movement target, training target (10 to 60 minutes), and standing target (6 to 12 hours).

A small hint that pointed to the following feature was shown off in Apple’s Keynote, but the new hardware in the Apple Watch Series 6 was not mentioned in a specific manner. All that we managed to glean through the recent announcement was the fact that the upcoming smartwatch has, similar to the iPhone 11, a U1 chip for Ultra-Wideband purposes, or UWB in short.

In this overview, Apple mentioned the presence of the U1 chip. / © Apple

This technology currently sees action only on the iPhone for AirDrop purposes. But in the future, UWB promises to co-operate with the expected AirTags and CarKey, which is in addition to NFC courtesy of this new type of short-range radio band. It is also conceivable that there will be an improvement in finding a lost iPhone or Apple Watch, should both devices be equipped with a U1 chip.

Fans of the Apple Watch would have also encountered some bad news though – there will be no Apple Watch Series 6 ceramic model this year. This means that for this round, there will be no smartwatch with a completely white case.

Speaking of absence: This also applies to the power supply for some Apple Watch models. This change was announced by Apple in the keynote. The small charger will only be missing in the cheaper models, but well-heeled buyers of the Apple Watch Edition with a titanium case or the Apple Watch Hermès edition will still receive the 5W USB Power Adapter. But don’t worry: The small magnetic puck is still included with every Apple Watch though.

Many observers expected this announcement for environmental reasons when it comes to the next iPhone generation, too. These could also drop the included power supply, in addition to a pair of wired headphones that have been included with each purchase so far.

Better conditions for AppleCare+ and AirPods update

On the fringes of the event, Apple had also adjusted the terms and conditions of AppleCare+. The paid coverage will now include “up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months”. Previously, the paid coverage offered up to two incidents of accidental damage protection across 24 months – which was double the length of time.

For AirPods and AirPods Pro owners, Apple also released a new firmware version earlier this week. In combination with the AirPods Pro, this update will enable the “Spatial Audio” feature that was announced in June earlier this year. In iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, for example, various titles in Apple TV+ will have a completely new listening experience.

Apple described the feature in the following words:

With AirPods Pro you have a cinema-like experience wherever you are. Spatial audio with dynamic head-tracking places surround sound channels just right, even if you turn your head or move your device.

The new firmware will also enable you to automatically switch between multiple Apple devices. For instance, AirPods can automatically switch from being connected to the iPad over to an iPhone whenever a call comes in. Have you found the latest Apple Time Flies event interesting so far?