Apple’s Watch and iPad Event Went Exactly By the Numbers

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Apple Watch Series 6

And that’s just fine

So Apple’s first of two or three streaming events this fall is in the books and, well, it was pretty uneventful. Other than pricing details for the new Apple Fitness+ and Apple One subscriptions, there really wasn’t anything major revealed today. I can’t remember if anyone predicted the Product RED Watch beforehand, but almost everything else was common knowledge.

However, that doesn’t mean that this event was irrelevant.

First off, Apple showed that it can handle a streamed product announcement event just as well as it pulled off WWDC. The polish we expect from them was there. If anything, removing the crowd does diminish the little bit of interaction and “humanity,” but it really speeds things up and gets the event to the point. These streaming events allow Apple to cover a lot of ground quickly while still elaborating on the points they really want to hammer home. And they still manage to sprinkle in a few laughs, such as the odd Craig Federighi cameo flybys.

Second, Apple showed a little bit of flexibility in the face of a worldwide pandemic. They have only rolled out a new A Series processor in an iPad before the latest iPhone once before, and that was several years ago with the iPad 2. Things have changed a lot since then and the iPhone clearly rules the entire Apple hardware lineup now. Still, Tim Cook and Co were willing to shake things up a bit this year with the iPhone running late. That’s a good thing in my estimation.

Also, Apple’s new souped up iPad Air reminds me of the days when the company had absolutely no problem cannibalizing it’s own products with something else they thought could serve the market more effectively.

IPad Air 4

They actually did a bit if this TO the Air last year, when the base model iPad’s screen moved to 10.2” and it got Smart Keyboard support at a cheaper price.

This year was the Air 4’s turn to step on the 11” iPad Pro. It will have a higher number processor (however, this isn’t an A14X, so the difference between the 12Z and 14 may not be a big as it may seem on the surface), the same basic look, and many of the same features. Oh, and it’s $200 less. This new Air is going to run rings around iPad Pro sales and that’s a good thing. By taking sales from the cheaper iPad, it will also drive the APU for Apple tablets higher at the same time. This is a much better positioning for the Air than last year’s “spare parts bin” version.

As for the Watch, the Series 6 is a fairly modest upgrade. The new color additions are a nice touch, as they were with the iPad Air, as well. That said, I really wish Apple would stop messing with my damn gold. Every time I settle on a shade of gold I like, they start messing with it again and screw it up. Oh well. First world problems.

The addition of the Watch SE was smart and keeping the Series 3 around at $199 was also a good move, as the Watch has proven to be a very sticky device. Keeping a compelling impulse buy option is smart. However, the real move here is Apple Fitness+. We all knew it was coming, but I was curious if it would get off to a rough-looking start, the same way that other new Apple services like Apple TV+ and News+ did. While we won’t get our hands on it for a while, it demoed really well today.

Apple is up against some really tough and established competition in this space, so getting off to a good start is going to be essential for them. If Fitness+ works as good as it looked and Apple delivers on their promises of a continuous stream of new workouts and content, then they could really be on to something. Apple isn’t exactly known for offering less expensive options, but fitness subs like this can be VERY pricy. Fitness+’s pricing looks downright reasonable and you get 3 free months with a Watch purchase. I’m excited to try this out.

There was only a little bad news today. Apple snuck in confirmation that the iPhone charger in the box is going away this year. That was certainly no surprise, but it was interesting that they chose to talk about it today during their environmental segment. Way to try and hide/bury that.

The only other disappointment for me (besides Apple possibly messing up my gold stainless Watch color- I can’t let it go) was that Fitness+ won’t be out until the end of the year and the new iPad Air won’t be available until next month. I just bought a recumbent desk bike and would love to start using Fitness+ workouts on it. As for the Air, it’s interesting that Apple chose to go ahead and announce it today, weeks ahead of availability. However, that tells you just how behind everything is thing year. It isn’t just the iPhone.

So Apple’s other events seem to line up pretty neatly after this one. The next will obviously focus on the iPhones and will likely touch on the AirPods Studio and probably the AirTags. I wouldn’t be shocked if the HomePod just arrives with a press release, but who knows. After that, we will likely have another event dedicated to the Apple Silicon Macs sometime in November. For such an odd year, Apple seems to be handling their hardware releases quite well.

As for me, I did manage to get my Apple Watch Series 6 order in after a lot of unexpected trouble from the Apple Store app. I am supposed to get mine between 9/28 and 9/30, so I will have a review ready to go soon after it arrives. Alas, the iPad Air will have to wait a few weeks.

I’m curious if the new Air will arrive before the iPhone announcement, or around the same time. I also wonder if that new blue color will grow on me between now and then. I’m not so sure about the lighter shade, but we all have time to think about that one while we wait.

Oh, and all hail Mark Gurman again. While many leakers were calling for iPhone announcements and surprises of different sorts, he was once again 100% right, just like last week.

What did you think of today’s Apple event? Let me know in the Comments section below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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