Did Tuesday’s iPhone 15 “Wonderlust” livestream drag you through a rollercoaster of emotions like it did for me? No? Well, perhaps I’m the only silly sap because I couldn’t help but well up – just a little bit – when Apple showcased heartfelt “survivor” stories from Apple Watch and iPhone (thank you to Emergency SOS via satellite and low heart-rate alerts).
I also blurted out a few WTFs (I’m looking at you Octavia Spencer), offered a few nods of appreciation (it’s about time Apple embraced USB-C), and most importantly, experienced spine-tingling excitement over avant-garde innovation. Can we all agree that the new-generation smartwatches (i.e., Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2) were the coolest part of the event?
Octavia Spencer plays “Mother Nature” for Apple’s Wonderlust livestream
That “double tap” gesture, allowing you to interact with the device hands-free a la the Apple Vision Pro, is fire. By simply tapping your thumb and forefinger together, you can control a number of functions, including pausing music, taking calls, and snoozing an alarm.
Apple showcases the double tap feature
But what about the other striking features, whether they landed on a smartwatch or a phone, that got eclipsed by double tap? Let’s talk about them.
1. Ultra Wideband Chip (2nd-generation)
The Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and the entire iPhone 15 line are now outfitted with the new, second-generation ultra wideband chip (UWB2). What does this mean? Finding your lost items will get much easier. For example, if you’re trying to find your iPhone, your Apple Watch, packed with UWB2, should track it down like a hawk. You’ll get clear directions and distance signals, as well as haptic and audible feedback.
iPhone 15 leads user to friend thanks to new ultra wideband chip
On top of that, you can also locate iDevices that are misplaced at longer distances (up to three times farther away). One of my favorite use cases for this is using the iPhone to find your friends while you’re in a crowded situation. As long as they share their location, your UWB2-enabled iPhone can lead you right to them.
Keep in mind, however, that this upgrade is only compatible with other iDevices with the same chip. It’s also worth noting that UWB2 now integrates your Apple Watch with HomePod, so when you get close to it while wearing the Apple Watch, media suggestions will populate at the top of your Smart Stack. Sweet!
2. Apple hops aboard the Barbiecore craze
Apple touched the hearts of pinkaholics around the world after it introduced not one, but two iDevices with a sweet coating of ballet-slipper pink. The brand spankin’ new Apple Watch Series 9 was revealed in five new colors: Starlight, Silver, PRODUCT(RED), Midnight, and finally, a show-stopping salmony hue.
The smartwatch isn’t the only iDevice to get swept into the Barbiecore craze. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, now packing a 48MP main camera and Dynamic Island, also come in pale pink, as well as yellow, green, blue, and black.
The iPhone 15 pink model
Credit: Stanislav Sredl/Mashable
No, neither the iPhone 15 Pro nor the iPhone 15 Pro Max got graced with a pink colorway, but I’d argue they got something better. (Cue Sia singing “Titanium” at the top of her lungs.) The two upper-tier models now consist of an ultra-premium material that Apple says is incredibly strong and durable, but also surprisingly lightweight. Apple’s Greg Joswiak, SVP of Worldwide Marketing, claimed that the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max are Apple’s lightest Pro models ever. “You’ll feel it as soon as you pick it up,” Joswiak said.
3. Roadside assistance via satellite
Emergency SOS via satellite, introduced with the iPhone 14, allows users to reach emergency service providers if they have no service. Like the name suggests, both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 lines use internal antenna hardware that establish a direct connection with low-orbit satellites.
Apple’s Deniz Teoman discusses Roadside assistance via satellite
At the iPhone 15 event, Apple announced that it is expanding this service to customers who need roadside assistance. In other words, if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in your vehicle, and you find yourself without cellular nor Wi-Fi coverage, you can reach AAA, which will dispatch your rescuer. (However, don’t be a dolt and go off-roading; the company only supports customers who are on or near a road.) The purchase of an iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 yields a free two-year membership to the service, but once this expires, it’s not clear how much customers must shell out once it expires.
4. Console games can run on iPhone
The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature the new A17 Pro chip, which deliver performance cores that are 10 percent faster than the A16 Bionic chip. To put this into perspective, Apple boasted that the A17 Pro chip could give high-end desktop PCs a run for their money. On top of that, the A17 Pro chip has mind-blowing ray tracing capabilities, ensuring enhanced graphical fidelity when it comes to luminance in games.
You can game better than ever on the iPhone 15 Pro
Showing off the A17 Pro’s capabilities, Apple announced that games like Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 4, titles that once only ran on consoles, can now be played on iPhone. Both will launch later this year. On top of that, Ubisoft is working on Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, another game that will run natively on iPhone 15 Pro models. It’s poised to be released in early 2024.
5. You can now capture spatial video
The iPhone 15 Pro models are designed to be the perfect companion to the Apple Vision Pro; its redesigned wide and ultra-wide cameras can now capture spatial video.
Spatial video capture inside the Apple Vision Pro
Once you’ve recorded a memory you’d like to share, you can send it to anyone who managed to scrape together $3,499 for the exorbitantly priced headset. Spatial video capture will be available later this year.
Curious about the full spectrum of announcements Apple revealed at its Wonderlust livestream? Check out our piece on everything that was unveiled at the iPhone 15 event.