Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9 Adds New Gestures, Improved Siri, & More

Apple held its annual event today in California, revealing what many expected to see: the new iPhone 15 line (yes, the phones now have USB-C charging!) and Apple Watch Series 9. Both, as expected, come with boosts in performance, improved designs, and some additional usability features.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll get with the new Apple Watch Series 9, as well as the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch accessories.

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch, which Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to as the “world’s most popular watch,” is getting a redesign for Series 9. This includes the new S9 SiP that offers a boost in performance and capabilities with 5.6 billion transistors (60% more than the iPhone 14) and 30% faster GPU. This, says Apple, will make animations and effects look “super smooth,” especially when combined with the two-times faster neural engine.

Sporting the same 18-hour battery life (unfortunately, no improvements in that department just yet), one of the key new features that has everyone talking is a gesture that allows you to tap your index finger and thumb together twice (on the hand you’re wearing the watch) to trigger various actions. This might include snoozing an alarm, playing or pausing music, or answering or ending a call – it activates whatever the primary button is in an app. It’s useful if your other hand is occupied carrying a grocery bag, for example, a cup of coffee, or a leash while you walk the dog. The feature uses a machine learning algorithm to detect the movements of your hand and the changes in blood flow. It makes “interacting with your watch faster, easier, and more convenient,” says Apple COO Jeff Williams. This is one feature I can see myself using often, though in some cases, it will really depend on how you usually carry items (do you usually carry your coffee or your dog’s leash in the same hand your watch is on, for example?) But keep in mind that the feature has technically already existed for some time within the Accessibility menu. You have to turn it on and can only set one specific action per gesture, called pinch, double pinch, or clenching a fist. Nonetheless, this option will be baked into the default settings and will auto-adjust depending on which application you’re using with the updated iteration.

Siri has also been improved on the watch, with requests that don’t require a connection to the Internet being processed on device versus going through the cloud. This means they will be faster and more secure since they won’t be slowed down by a spotty Wi-Fi or cellular connection. You can also ask Siri more things relating to the watch, like to access your health data, give you a head’s up on how your move rings look today, how many hours of sleep you got, and more. You could even ask the watch to log your period, medications taken, and weight. The powerful Neural Engine also makes dictation up to 25% more accurate than Apple Watch Series 8, says the company.

Additional features include the ability to name drop to instantly share a contact with another Apple Watch (just hold the two close together); ping your iPhone using the new second-gen ultra-wideband chip for precision finding (you’ll get not only distance and direction to the phone but also haptic and audible feedback to guide you to its location); and media suggestions in the smart stack when you hold it close to an Apple HomePod.

Apple Watch Series 9

The watch is also brighter with an edge-to-edge always-on retina display that can go as high as 2,000 nits of brightness, double that of the Series 8, and go down to 1 nit so it’s more easily viewable in dark conditions as well.

Following with Apple’s continued environmental efforts, the Apple Watch Series 9 (with a specific band) will also be the first-ever fully carbon neutral product from the brand, highlighted via a logo on the box. Any aluminum Apple Watch Series 9 with a new Sport Loop band is carbon neutral.

Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $549. It is available for pre-order and will be in stores and shipping on Friday, September 22. Apple Watch Series 9 is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes in starlight, midnight, silver, (PRODUCT)RED, and a new pink aluminum case, as well as stainless steel in gold, silver, and graphite cases.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Ultra 2

As the second generation of Apple’s popular watch for outdoor adventurers and serious athletes, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has all the same new features as the Apple Watch Series 9 and carries over all the popular features from the first-gen model as well as upcoming ones in watchOS 10. But there are some additional features as well.

You can now set a waypoint using voice with Siri and enjoy precision finding thanks to the second-gen chip. It goes up to 3,000 nuts brightness making it more readable in harsh sunlight. The ambient sensor also automatically activates in the dark, switching the watch to night mode.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

There’s a new Modular Ultra watch face that uses the outermost edge of the display to show data like depth, altitude, and even the passing seconds. You get more information overall at-a-glance.  

Along with advanced metrics for runners, a customizable action button, and precision dual frequency GPS, the watch has been tested across the largest range of altitudes, as high as 9,000 metres. The depth app, meanwhile, for divers now saves a log of each session so you can view data both in the Health app and on the watch face itself.

Offering the same up to 36 hours of battery life (72 in low power mode), it uses more recycled content as well.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 is $1,099 in Canada.

Both devices will, of course, run on the new watchOS 10 and will include all the features Apple confirmed for this latest OS at launch.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

Let’s not forget about the Apple Watch SE! As the most affordable entry into the Apple Watch space (unless you opt for an older-gen or refurbished model), the new Apple Watch SE starts at just $249. It offers the basics like activity tracking and sleep monitoring as well as advanced features like high and low heart rate notification, Fall Detection, Emergency SOS, crash detection, and more. Plus, it also works with the new watchOS 10.

Apple Watch SE is available in 40mm and 44mm aluminum cases and is carbon neutral when paired with a new Sport Loop band.

Apple Watch Accessories

Apple Watch S9 Nike bands

Apple is not only revealing new Apple Watch accessories for these models (and others), but also making a big change: the company will no longer be using leather for its bands. Instead, it’s shifting to a FineWoven textile that uses 68% post-consumer recycled content and offers a suede like feel. There will also be new styles from Hermes including the first knitted band, and new bands from Nike that uses repurposed wasted materials with randomized patterns so each one is unique.