Apple Fitness+ subscription service unveiled alongside Series 6 Watch
Apple has unveiled a new custom subscription service for training alongside new smartwatches and tablets.
Fitness + collects health data collected by an Apple Watch and then displays it along with the workout videos shown on a larger display.
The platform will compete with existing fitness apps on iOS from Peloton, Les Mills and Fiit.
It also poses a challenge for Fitbit, whose wearables benefit from its own health coaching subscription service.
As many had predicted, Apple has decided to withhold details of its upcoming iPhones for a separate event.
Yoga and dance
Like some of its rivals, Fitness + also allows competitive users to see how their efforts compare to those of others who have completed the same fitness routine before.
“Health monitoring continues to be an important focus for Apple and its new Fitness + service signals its intention to generate more revenue from its products in this area,” commented Leo Gebbie of consulting firm CCS Insight.
Fitness + will initially be launched in six countries, including the US and UK, by the end of 2020.
It will cost £ 10 per month or £ 80 per year as a standalone service, which can be shared between members of the same family.
Alternatively, it can be purchased alongside other Apple services, including iCloud storage, Arcade video games and Apple Music, for around £ 30 per month, as part of the top tier of a service package called the Apple One.
It is possible to subscribe to other mixes of services for lower rates.
“Support for 10 different workouts with and without equipment, and the fact that it is sold at a family price will make Fitness + very attractive,” said Carolina Milanesi of Silicon Valley-based consultancy Creative Strategies.
“And I don’t think bundling it with other services is anti-competitive, as you’re seeing other services doing the same thing, for example Disney’s US Hulu TV service with Spotify.”
But one personal trainer said he doesn’t see the new service as a competition for one-on-one sessions with an online coach.
“The real results come from the support, responsibility and understanding of human behavior, and the ability to tailor an individual’s fitness regimen to be sustainable,” Sam Wake told the BBC.
Apple unveiled two new ranges of smartwatches: the high-end Series 6 watch and the lower-priced SE watch.
Series 6 introduces a blood oxygen sensor to help manage conditions affecting the heart and lungs.
It measures SpO2 levels, which indicate the amount of oxygen carried by the user’s red blood cells from the lungs to other parts of the body.
Apple has suggested that this could potentially act as a means of detecting the early onset of respiratory problems, although its small print says the feature “is not intended for medical use”.
Samsung, Huawei, and Fitbit already sell smartwatches that provide the same structure. However, their ability to offer it depended on the approval of the local health authorities.
The SE model doesn’t have the new sensor and uses a slower processor, but otherwise offers most of the features found in the more expensive model.
These include sleep monitoring and a new facility for children called the Family Set-up. It can be set to trigger automatic location notifications to a child’s parents when the wearer visits familiar places like grandparents or school.
It also allows you to assign a unique phone number to a watch, rather than using one that already belongs to an iPhone.
“A logical use would be for a parent to give a child a cellular-enabled Apple Watch so that they can stay connected,” Gebbie commented.
“We expect to see watches used in this scenario rather than a device purchased specifically for this purpose.”
The 6 Series range starts at £ 379 and SE at £ 269.
Apple’s new iPad Air is the company’s first product to build on a new chip manufacturing process that promises more processing power and better energy efficiency due to the fact that transistors can be packed together more densely than before.
Apple typically launches its new chips inside its iPhone before its iPads, but this year the release of its new phones has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company suggested that the A14 processor would make it easier to edit 4K video and motion tracking of real-world objects for augmented reality apps.
The machine has a fingerprint sensor built into one of its side buttons to reduce the size of the bezels and also introduces a USB-C port, which until now had been limited to the more expensive iPad Pro range.
The new iPad Air also has a slightly larger screen than before – 10.9 inches (27.7 cm) – but costs £ 100 more, starting at £ 579.
The company also unveiled a new, low-priced entry-level iPad that uses the old A12 chip. It starts at £ 329, which is £ 20 less than before.
Demand for tablets in the broader tech sector has increased since the coronavirus pandemic began as consumers increasingly used them for entertainment, home education and remote work.
Shipments in the April-July quarter were up 19% over the same period in 2019, according to research firm IDC, with Samsung, Amazon and Huawei among those earning even greater earnings.
According to data from IDC, Apple’s iPads remain the market leader, but only recorded a 2% annual gain.
“Apple has maintained its volume but its rivals have made great strides by opportunistic sales of cheaper devices,” commented Marta Pinto of IDC.