For iPhone users who like to be active and conscious about the need to stay healthy, the Apple Watch is quite an essential companion device. With the just-concluded 'Wonderlust' event at Cupertino, Apple has launched Series 9 of its primary watch, a somewhat scaled-down SE variant, and the more niche Ultra 2, meant for extreme sports.
If customers were waiting for new health hardware on the watch such as blood glucose measurement or even blood pressure readings, there's none of that. The Watch 9 does have new hardware, but it's in the form of a new S9 chip which is meant to bring improvements across the existing capabilities as well as introduce a few new ones. By and large, the Apple Watch 9 follows the same look and feel as previous recent versions with a host of new non-leather watch bands with which this series and previous watches can look refreshed.
2000 nits of brightness
One physical feature that should be easily evident is a brighter display, 50% more than the Series 8 watches. At 2000 nits, the screen should be more visible outdoors. It also dials back to a mere 1 nit when needed, such as at sleep time. As ever, new watch faces will enhance the display and leverage new features.
Double-tap your own fingers
The four-core neural engine in the new S9 chip allows for new capabilities which is an interesting double tap feature. The user taps, not on the screen, but the index finger and thumb of the watch hand together. The accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate sensor together now quickly will recognise the gesture and perform a selected task such as answering a call, play or pause music, triggering the camera on the phone, or snooze an alarm. This intuitive and effortless gesture is likely to be quite convenient as it's performed one-handed and quickly. This feature is entirely new and hasn't been seen on previous watches.
On-device Siri requests
With the Series 9 watch, a user will be able to make requests of Siri and get responses that don’t call for information available on the internet. Questions can be about one’s own health and activity. This should make it much easier to use the watch's features as it doesn’t need one to dig through layers of screens to get to information. For example, one can ask Siri how one’s sleep has been the past night. Or how far one is from completing activity goals. These requests and responses remain private.
Integrated with all
The S9 chip used on the Watch 9 and iPhone 15 series also includes an Ultra Wide Band chip that brings integration with other Apple products such as the HomePod. As a user nears the HomePod speaker when it’s playing, the watch will show suggestions and controls. Find My will also be more precise and work even from another room.
Much of what is new on the Apple Watch will come with the operating system upgrade to WatchOS 10 and this will apply both to the new watch and for many features, older but recent versions.
Is the Watch 9 worth buying? It starts at ₹41,900. For a first time watch buyer it’s a worthwhile investment, specially as an Apple Watch can be used for several years. For someone with a particularly recent model such as Series 7 or Series 8, there may not be enough of a step-change.