Apple Watch Ultra: 10 New and Noteworthy Features

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Apple on Wednesday unveiled the new Apple Watch Ultra, a larger, more advanced smartwatch aimed at athletes, explorers, and swimmers. The Apple Watch Ultra shares the same features as the new Apple Watch Series 8, but there is a whole lot more to the watch than meets the eye. Here are just some of the more notable differences that are worth highlighting.

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Operating Temperatures Are Extreme

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iPhones can get so hot or so cold that they can become non-functional, but the Apple Watch Ultra is very unlikely to, even in the harshest of climes. Apple says the watch has been designed to accommodate the most extreme environments in outdoor exploration, with an on-wrist operating temperature from –4° to 131° F (–20° to 55° C).

Larger Display, More Complications

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Apple has created a new Wayfinder watch face that’s been designed especially for the larger Apple Watch Ultra display. It includes a compass built into the dial, and has space for up to eight complications on screen at the same time. The Wayfinder watch face can also be customized for mountain, ocean, or trail expeditions.

Customizable Action Button

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Where previous Apple Watch models have had just two physical controls, Apple Watch Ultra has a third on the left side of the screen called the Action button, which is colored in “international orange” and can serve a range of functions.

As it’s customizable, what the Action button does is up to the user, so one push can let you track race segments during a workout, find a way out when using Backtrack, drop a Compass Waypoint, or start up a dive computer, depending on your needs.

Brighter Screen

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Under the flat sapphire front crystal is a Retina display that is not only the biggest yet on an Apple Watch, but it can also output contents at up to 2,000 nits, which is two times brighter than any other Apple Watch display.

Night Mode

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To optimize for evening conditions when using the Wayfinder watch face, a turn of the Digital Crown engages Night Mode, which turns the interface red and removes retina-altering blue light from the display to ease strain on your eyes in the dark.

Emergency Siren

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If you ever become lost, injured, or have some other emergency situation and want to draw attention to your location, Apple Watch Ultra includes an 86-decibel siren that can be enabled by holding the Action button.

Apple says the siren uses a unique sound signature that incorporates two distinct alternating patterns, which can repeat for several hours. The first pattern suggests distress, while the second mimics the universally recognized SOS pattern, and the siren can be heard up to 600 feet or 180 meters away.

Best-in-Class GPS Positioning

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Apple Watch Ultra uses a precision dual-frequency GPS that integrates both L1 and the latest frequency, L5. Apple says that in combination with new custom positioning algorithms, this provides users with the most accurate GPS of any smartwatch on the market, and should help trail runners and other athletes who often find themselves in amongst dense trees or high buildings.

Redesigned Compass App

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In watchOS 9, the Compass has been redesigned for Apple Watch Ultra and now has three different views. The app displays a new hybrid view that simultaneously shows both an analog compass dial and a digital view, while turning the Digital Crown reveals an additional view that includes latitude, longitude, elevation, and incline, as well as an orienteering view showing Compass Waypoints and Backtrack.

Waypoint Marking and Backtrack

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In the Compass app, you can press the Action button or tap the Compass Waypoint icon to drop a waypoint and mark the location you are in. Waypoints can be edited by tapping the icon, and the Compass Waypoint complication updates automatically in real time showing both the direction of the waypoint as well as its approximate distance.

Meanwhile, with the help of GPS, a new Backtrack function creates a path showing you where you’ve been, like a breadcrumb trail, which you can use if you get lost or disoriented and want to retrace your steps.

Water Temperature Sensor and Depth Gauge

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Apple Watch Ultra is certified to EN 13319, which is an internationally recognized standard for dive accessories, including depth gauges. The Apple Watch Ultra even incorporates a depth gauge into a new Depth app, which can display time, current depth down to 40 meters, water temperature, duration under water, and max depth reached.

When underwater, the Apple Watch Ultra automatically opens the Depth app, making it quick and easy to get critical information without needing to open it manually. Alternatively, you can assign the Depth app to the Action button to launch it when needed.

Availability

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The Apple Watch Ultra costs $799 and was made available for pre-order after Wednesday’s “Far out” event. It comes in a silver titanium casing and is available with three different bands: Trail, Alpine, and Ocean. The Apple Watch Ultra will begin shipping to customers on Friday, September 23.



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Fascinated by how code and design is shaping the world. I write about the why behind tech news. Design Manager in Tech.

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