Apple's Far Out event packs plenty of surprises | Cult of Mac

Apple’s Far Out event packs plenty of surprises

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Apple's Far Out Event delivered plenty of hardware and some solid surprises.
Apple's Far Out Event delivered plenty of hardware and some solid surprises.
Image: Cult of Mac/Apple

Apple definitely over-delivered with Wednesday’s Far Out event. The rumor mill’s constant churn of leaks and speculation gave us a solid framework for our expectations, but Cupertino’s hardware and software wizards still whipped out a few surprises.

Here’s everything you need to know about the iPhone 14 lineup, second-gen AirPods Pro and the 2022 Apple Watch models — including that hot new Ultra version for extreme athletes (and couch potatoes with solid credit ratings).

Apple Far Out event announcements

Although yet another taped keynote broadcast “live” from Apple Park, the Far Out event nevertheless managed to deliver some thrills. Lately, these canned “events” seem more and more like overblown infomercials. But Wednesday’s presentation brimmed with exciting new hardware (and even some software surprises).

“Today we’re here to talk about three products that have become essential in our lives: iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in the prerecorded presentation. “They’re always with you, useful wherever and whenever you need them, and are designed to work seamlessly together on their own. Each is industry-leading. Together, they provide a magical experience…. And today, we’re going to make these products and these experiences even better.”

Here’s a quick rundown of all the new hardware and software tweaks that Apple unveiled Wednesday.

2022 Apple Watch lineup

With its big, bold design (and that orange Action button), the Apple Watch Ultra ran away with the show.
With its big, bold design (and that orange Action button), the Apple Watch Ultra ran away with the show.
Photo: Apple

Let’s start with the Apple Watch Ultra — Cupertino’s biggest smartwatch yet — and the rest of this year’s new Apple Watch models.

Apple Watch Ultra: Big, bold and 36-hour battery life

Possibly the most-anticipated Apple product for some time, the Apple Watch Ultra takes on Garmin with a big, fat smartwatch that’s geared toward the outdoors and serious sports. As well as an enormous 49mm screen, the new watch boasts an amazing 36 hours of battery life, easily enough for a full marathon and more besides.

In power-saving mode, it can get up to 60 hours of use, and record a 2.4-mile swim, a 100-plus mile bike ride and a full 26-mile marathon — while capturing all the wearer’s performance metrics. It even packs a new programmable Action button to launch workouts and switch between modes. It already looks like a massive hit. — Leander Kahney

Full coverage: Apple Watch Ultra is a big, bulky, beautiful beast

Apple Watch Series 8: Focus on women’s health

The Apple Watch Series 8 comes with a new body-temperature sensor, which compensates for taking temperature measurements on your wrist (not a great place for it) with a pair of thermometers and clever algorithms. Among other things, it can track women’s cycles, including ovulation, which is crucial for family planning. Of course, in the aftermath of the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Apple says the system is private and secure.

There’s also a new Crash Detection mode that dials 911 after an automobile accident. With a big bright screen, and new health and fitness features coming in watchOS 9, the Series 8 looks like a solid upgrade. — Leander Kahney

Full coverage: Apple unveils Watch Series 8 with new body temp sensor, focus on women’s health

Apple Watch SE (second-gen): Starter device for kids

Starting at $249, the new Apple Watch SE is perfect for kids who aren’t yet old enough for a smartphone. Strap a cellular model onto little Jonny’s wrist, and he’ll never get lost again. It’s easy to set up with Family Setup. And a new nylon material in the case makes it light enough for little wrists.

Although relatively inexpensive, the SE isn’t gimped. It runs on the same SoC used in the Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8, and includes a lot of the same features, like Crash Detection and international roaming. So little Jonny can call you in France when they crash their Vélib’ on the streets of Paris! — Leander Kahney

Full coverage: Apple Watch SE 2 packs all the features you’d want from a budget smartwatch

iPhone 14 lineup

That pill-shaped hole where the notch used to be? Apple calls it the Dynamic Island.
That pill-shaped hole where the pro iPhone’s notch used to be? Apple calls it the Dynamic Island.
Photo: Apple

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max: Better camera, always-on display and Dynamic Island

Both iPhone 14 Pro models bring the sort of major camera upgrades we’ve come to expect in recent years, incluindg a 48MP wide-angle camera, along with a beefed-up A16 chip and the rumored always-on display.

But the big shocker was the Dynamic Island, Apple’s name for the expandable, pill-shaped cutout that replaces the notorious notch. Always active, the Dynamic Island shows alerts and notifications from native and third-party apps so you can keep track of things at a glance, no matter what app you’re in.

“iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the best iPhones we’ve ever created, with a new way to experience iPhone as well as the industry-leading A16 bionic chip, always-on display and powerful new camera technologies,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. Bucking an inflationary trend, the iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999, just like its predecessor. The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $1,099. — David Snow

Full coverage: iPhone 14 Pro models get major camera upgrades and always-on displays

iPhone 14 Plus could become Apple’s best-seller

Full coverage: iPhone 14 Plus ushers in big changes

6.1-inch iPhone 14 is a bit underwhelming

Perhaps the best way to describe the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 is with what it doesn’t have. It doesn’t have the new Dynamic Island from the iPhone 14 Pro series, instead sticking with the screen notch. It also doesn’t pack Apple’s newest processor. (Instead, it uses 2021’s A15 chip.) It doesn’t have a new design, either — it looks identical to iPhone 13.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about it is that it doesn’t have a price increase, either. It still starts at $799, the same as last year’s version.

Still, it does bring some improvements. The camera performs better in low light, though the number of megapixels didn’t increase. And, surprisingly, Apple built Emergency SOS via Satellite into the standard model, when it might have reserved this for the two Pro models. It comes with Crash Detection, too, to enable emergency help for those injured in automobile accidents. So, it’s not exactly a cookie-cutter copy of the iPhone 13. Still, it’s possibly the most modest annual update for an Apple handset ever. — Ed Hardy

AirPods Pro (second-gen)

A new H2 chip, and a supercharged charging case, make the new AirPods Pro more pro than ever.
A new H2 chip, and a supercharged charging case, make the upgraded AirPods Pro more pro than ever.
Photo: Apple

The new AirPods Pro may look the same, but they pack a slew of smart new features.

You can adjust the volume by sliding your finger along the stem. The powerful new H2 chip inside, combined with a more-insulated design, adds up to active noise cancellation that Apple says is twice as strong. You can even scan your ear with your iPhone to get a personalized Spatial Audio mix.

The new AirPods Pro charging case comes with some tricks up its sleeve, too. A built-in U1 chip (like AirTags), a lanyard loop and a speaker all make the case harder to lose and easier to find. Battery life is 30% better across the board — and when you need to charge, you can put it on your Apple Watch charging puck. The price stays the same: $249. — D. Griffin Jones

Full coverage: New AirPods Pro support personalized Spatial Audio and precision finding

Ed Hardy, D. Griffin Jones, Leander Kahney and David Snow contributed to this report.