Apple just announced the Apple Watch Series 9 at its “Wonderlust” event, bringing faster performance, on-device Siri processing and a new gesture called Double Tap. The Series 9 starts at $399 and is available for preorder immediately ahead of its Sept. 22 launch.
These changes should make interacting with the watch feel faster and more instantaneous, continuing a theme Apple introduced with its WatchOS 10 update in June.
Among the most notable new features is Double Tap. Simply tap your index finger and thumb together twice, and you’ll be able to perform tasks like answering a call. The idea behind the new gesture is to make it easier to use the watch without having to use your other hand.
Since the Apple Watch Series 9 can process data on the device itself, Siri should perform faster because it doesn’t have to send requests to the cloud. But even more importantly, you’ll be able to ask Siri health-related questions, such as how much you slept last night. That’s particularly important given the Apple Watch’s popularity as a health and fitness tracker. Processing data on the device itself is more secure than sending it to the cloud, which is crucial for health-oriented requests.
There are also new integrations between the Apple Watch and HomePod that make it possible to see media playing on your device from your wrist. Precision Finding, the feature that makes it easier to pinpoint your iPhone using the device’s ultra wideband chip, is also coming to the Series 9.
The aluminum version of the Series 9 will be available in pink, starlight (white), silver, midnight (black) and Product Red, the special edition color that contributes to the Global Fund’s fight against AIDS and COVID-19. The stainless steel edition will come in gold, silver and graphite.
Apple is also highlighting another aspect of the Apple Watch’s design: Sustainability. The Series 9 is Apple’s first carbon neutral product, and Apple is also using 100% recycled cobalt in the battery for the first time.
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The Series 9’s faster Siri performance and new Double Tap feature show that Apple is looking for new ways to upgrade the experience of actually using the watch. That’s significant because Apple has primarily focused on new health and fitness features, like the Series 8’s temperature sensor, to differentiate its new watches from previous models.
Usability is an important theme across the Apple Watch in 2023, in terms of both hardware and software updates. That became clear back in June when Apple announced its new WatchOS 10 software, which brings widgets to the watch. These widgets surface contextual information as needed, making it easier to find bits of information without jumping between apps and watch faces.
Over the past three years, Apple has released new models alongside its primary smartwatch in an effort to appeal to new audiences, such as avid runners and those shopping on a lower budget. In 2022, for example, it introduced the Apple Watch Ultra, a high-end watch with extra features geared toward outdoor enthusiasts. It also launched its first cheaper smartwatch in 2020, called the Apple Watch SE, and released a new version of that device in 2022.
Apple leads the global smartwatch market with 22% of shipments in the second quarter of 2023, according to market research firm Counterpoint. But the flagship Apple Watch hasn’t seen dramatic changes in recent years aside from the addition of a temperature sensor in 2022 and a larger screen in 2021. Apple is rumored to be working on a more significant overhaul to its watch in 2024 to mark the device’s 10th anniversary, according to Bloomberg, which could be called the Apple Watch X.
However, in the meantime, the Series 9 brings changes that should make Apple’s smartwatch feel snappier, smoother and easier to use.