And with that, another Apple event is over. The company today unveiled the iPhone 15, 15 Pro, Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. All of which were pretty much expected – right down to the addition of USB-C to both iPhones, and a titanum body to the Pro.
As we've already lamented, the surprises in Apple's events tend to come very small these days. With every headline detail leaked months in advance, it's the odd feature here and there can catch us off guard. And two such examples from today's announcements seem to have one thing in common: they're linked to Apple Vision Pro. Apple didn't talk much about its VR headset today, but two new features, one for Apple Watch and one for iPhone 15 Pro, seem designed to get us ready for its arrival. (Check out our take on the new iPhone 15 Pro.)
Double-Tap for Apple Watch Series 9 looks pretty cool – in fact, it's made me slightly miffed I didn't wait a little longer to buy Apple's wearable. The feature gives users hands-free control of the Watch, letting them tap their index finger and thumb twice to activate features such as the new Smart Stack, or control music. It's perfect for when the non-watch hand is occupied, such as when carrying shopping.
But as many have noticed, we've seen that double-tap gesture before. Yep, it's straight out of VisionOS. Is Apple subtly trying to get us ready for a world of gesture-based controls?
Influence of Vision Pro headset can be seen in a couple of areas. One is the support of spatial videos on iPhone 15 Pro and the double-tap gesture on Apple Watch echoes a key user interaction element on the Vision Pro. Looks like an interesting update to the Watch. #AppleEvent pic.twitter.com/R8I6oBLHJkSeptember 12, 2023
New double tap feature in the new Apple Watch! #appleevent — this is very much like how you will control Apple Vision! pic.twitter.com/C8a2b6ok99September 12, 2023
The second, more obvious Vision Pro-related feature is the iPhone 15 Pro's ability to record 'Spatial Video', using two camera lenses. "Coming later this year," Apple announces, "iPhone 15 Pro will add a new dimension to video capture with the ability to record spatial video for Apple Vision Pro. Users will be able to capture precious moments in three dimensions and relive those memories with incredible depth on Apple Vision Pro when it is available early next year in the U.S."
While Vision Pro is almost prohibitively expensive at $3,499, a price that could hinder its chances of going mainstream anytime soon, it could be subtle updates to the rest of Apple's ecosystem that gradually get users ready for an AR world. If we're already used to filming spatial video and using gesture-based controls, visionOS might not seem so otherworldly in a few years' time.