There was no drama, no aha moment or “one more thing” surprise planned by Tim Cook and the Apple team last week at the company’s first in-person product launch event besides two years. Apple announced four new iPhone 14 models with satellite connectivity, a premium Apple Watch Ultra aimed at mountain climbers and athletes, and second-generation AirPods Pro with a new chip and improved noise reduction.
Details of every new product Apple unveiled at a 90-minute event have already leaked months before the Far Out event. Overall, Apple’s Far Out event was predictable and that’s great. Still, Cupertino managed to throw in a few surprises that many weren’t expecting. If you’re wondering what those surprises are, I’m here to help.
‘Dynamic Island’ is a master class in user interface design
Everyone was ready to see a pill-shaped cutout on the iPhone 14 display, but no one planned or predicted Dynamic Island, the most eye-catching feature we’ve seen on a smartphone in a very long time. What Apple has done is turn the pill-shaped cutout on top of the screen into an active part of the user interface. When using the iPhone, the cutout changes contextually as if it were a second screen. At launch, Apple explained how a small “dock” became a music interface widget. Or an icon indicating that the AirPods are connected. For years, every Apple phone had a “notch” at the top of the screen. Apple’s Dynamic Island isn’t just a new way to approach product design, it also embraces constraints and turns them into useful features.
“Action mode” is a silent replacement of gimbals
The iPhone 14’s standout feature isn’t just satellite connectivity, but a lesser-known feature buried in the camera app. It’s called ‘Action mode’, which promises cinema-quality video stabilization without using a powered gimbal. If you’re a videographer or content creator, you already know how key stabilization plays a role in getting smooth videos and gimbals do it extremely well. The iPhone 14’s Action mode, or so Apple claims, delivers perfectly smooth footage without a gimbal. The best part: Unlike a Gimbal where you have to mount a phone and require setup to balance for best results, the iPhone 14’s Action mode does this without investing in another device. So why not use the camera that’s already in your pocket?
Apple Watch Ultra is expensive, not too expensive
Sometimes what’s predicted before a big Apple event looks different from reality – it’s more speculation or sometimes impractical. That’s exactly what happened at Apple’s event last week. Some analysts and insiders had predicted that Apple’s high-end “rugged” Watch could cost close to $1,000. However, the company has priced the Apple Watch Ultra at $799, which seems reasonable for the first-generation product which also slashed Garmin’s prices.
Apple may be the king of the smartwatch market, but Garmin dominates the premium segment with outdoor adventure watches that range in price from $699 to $1,500. Apple has tried to sell expensive watches in the past, but failed to appeal to users, especially athletes and mountaineers, who wanted extra features. With the Apple Watch Ultra, Cupertino may still fall short of what a Garmin watch offers, whether it’s battery or the lack of built-in topographic maps needed for trails or Bluetooth power meter support. That being said, when you look closely at the Ultra’s price and the usability of Apple’s wearable offerings, Garmin’s biggest weakness, usability, begins to shine.