The Apple Watch Ultra is a new beginning for Apple Watch. We talked to Apple about how the Watch Ultra’s dual-frequency GPS, advanced battery life, and why the action button were developed.
Apple Watch Ultra is the first major redesign of the Apple Watch as we know it. When Apple suggested that Stuff sit down with, well, virtually, three of its VPs to ask about the main sensors in the new device, we jumped at the chance.
We spoke with Stan Ng, vice president of Apple Watch marketing, Ron Huang, vice president of sensing and connectivity, and finally Jay Blahnik, vice president of fitness technologies.
But seven years into the life of the Apple Watch, why is now the right time for Ultra? “Over the years, we’ve heard customers tell us they want to use Apple Watch for their extreme adventures,” says Stan Ng. “We wanted to create a watch that would be a meaningful tool [et c’est] something that we have been developing for several years. It was driven by three use cases: endurance running, outdoor adventure, and ocean exploration. »
It is time to act
The action button is one of the key new features of the Watch Ultra, but why have a dedicated button? “When we thought of the ultra-endurance athlete, it made a lot of sense to have a button [que vous pouvez] spend doing things [comme un démarrage de précision ou des segments] during a workout without touching the screen,” says fitness guru Jay Blanik.
“If you create a custom workout; Let’s say you have an open warm-up and you’re doing 30 second intervals followed by one minute recoveries and you want to go over a recovery or interval. You can do it manually by pressing the action button. When doing these custom workouts, you really don’t want to have to look at the screen.
A multisport function helps athletes to perform any configuration of swimming, cycling and running, and the watch will automatically detect when you are doing these activities. “But we know that there are endurance athletes who are very, very picky about the exact time they consider their swim to end and their transition time to begin, and then their bike ride to begin. So you can even switch this to manual mode and use the action button [pour cela] Blahnik continues.
You can also use the button to get an accurate start time instead of having to look at the screen, while the Watch Ultra’s screen is capable of displaying six metrics at once.
“So maybe you want distance, time, pace, heart rate, but you also want at certain points in the race to focus on our new running metrics like vertical oscillation and rest time, ground contact and length. of the stride You can have a secondary screen that, with a simple scroll of the Digital Crown, switches to this screen.
One of the main improvements of Watch Ultra is its double GPS. As you know, everyone has been using and relying on GPS for a long time and most of them have been on the old L1 frequency, which is almost 50 years old, a project started by the US Department of Defense in 1973 and made open. available to the public a decade later.
L5 is the GPS update technology and has been implemented in recent years. The two frequencies complement each other. L5 has appeared on more devices in recent years, but it was a limited selection of smartphones, as well as specific devices like Garmin’s dedicated GPSMAP adventure trackers.
“If you think about how GPS works, we calculate the distance between you and satellites that are 20,000 kilometers above you,” explains Ron Huang. “They do this by making a very precise timing between the satellites and their clock with these signals traveling at the speed of light. So it is easily interrupted and easy to make mistakes due to things like passing through different layers of the atmosphere. There is a particular band of the atmosphere called the ionsphere that has a lot of plasma that disturbs radio waves, for example. Since L1 and L5 have a difference of 400 MHz, you can correct this type of effect independently.
“But it becomes really special when you combine it with [nos] custom algorithms. So, for example, we monitor and model all arm movement while running so that we don’t capture the speed of the arm movement, but the speed of the run.
Blahnik also cites the example of the Boston Marathon as an example of a dense urban environment where the watch can take place “because a good proportion of it takes place in the middle of the city…in the middle of the skyscrapers where L1 can be. engaged.”
Reach 60 hours
Battery life was another key area during the development of the Watch Ultra. It has capacity for 12 hours of training in standard mode “which of course is more than enough for any traditional marathon and, for many people, [12 heures] it takes them that ultramarathon distance,” says Blahnik.
When it becomes available via a later update, the multi-day “60 hour” adventure mode will be able to track approximately 15 hours of training within that 60 hour period. There’s no release date yet, though we asked our panel when it might show up.
Blahnik explains how this mode will be useful for endurance athletes: “There are 15 hours of training in those 60 hours. But if you don’t need to go the full 60 hours and just want to work out, you really start to hit big numbers in that 20+ hour range and we’re excited to see all the ways our endurance athletes will benefit. This is great for things like an Ironman race, as we think most athletes would be able to complete an Ironman race. ”
You will be able to enable Low Power Mode in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. “If you go into the training section there is a new switch that says reduce heart rate during workouts and if you turn it on that is how you get into this multi-day adventure mode [60 heures]. The switch is only applicable if you put the clock [elle-même] in low power mode.
Huang explains how GPS is affected by low power modes. “Usually in a workout like a walk, we run GPS once a second. But we dialed it back to only run once every two minutes.
In the correct way
But despite the lower GPS sampling rate, Huang says route and distance data won’t be compromised. “We use the gyroscope and the accelerometer [ainsi que] map elevation data to know how straight you are between these two points. And if you’re hiking a trail that we have map data for, we’ll compare the map and align with the trail to give you full credit, including any little cuts and turns you make. Without tracking data, we still use this straightness metric to understand that you’re not traveling a linear distance between the two points, but are actually doing all the meandering, which gives you credit for that.
Backtrack is also one of them, the new Compass app feature that lets you retrace your steps if you get lost. But, as Huang points out, you often don’t know you’re lost until it’s too late. So Backtrack includes an automatic mode that Huang calls a “safety net.”
“We look at Wi-Fi signals because when there’s no Wi-Fi today, you’re likely out in the wild and we look at your past usage history to see if it’s somewhere you’ve been before. It will even remember when you switched from driving to walking, because that’s [probablement là] we want to return So when Apple Watch Ultra detects [ceci], it automatically starts recording the track for you. We can do this with minimal impact on the battery.
We also asked how mobile data affects battery life. “Staying registered in the cellular network is quite expensive from the point of view of [de la durée de vie de la batterie]right?” Huang said. “So what we’re doing in this mode is not staying connected all the time. But when you launch an app that wants to use data, whether it’s a phone app or data, etc. We connect on demand.
“And the team has worked hard to make sure the connection is as fast as possible. But of course, on top of that, the apps you run in the background… also get pushed. [notifications]. You want to get them even in low power mode. So what we do is periodically have the watch re-register with the network, retrieve its data and turn off the phone again.
under the waves
The Watch Ultra is designed for water activities, including scuba diving, and when you submerge it, the depth app will show you how deep you are. “This relies not only on the pressure sensor, but combines with the accelerometer, gyroscope, and even the touch screen to help determine if your watch is in air or water,” adds Huang. . “When you’re in the water, the whole experience starts automatically [lorsque vous êtes à plus d’un mètre] and adapts to your sport and your activity. And when you get out of the water, it automatically returns to the usual watch face. We have a dedicated water temperature sensor for which we have done a lot of work on the algorithms so that [lorsque vous] diving into the water, we caught up with the actual temperature of the water very quickly.
Huang explains how, for water sports, the team built a 23-foot-long water sled to test the Watch Ultra and to be able to accelerate the Apple Watch up to 45 miles per hour to ensure it can handle all the forces present during these activities. . “It is different from the two temperature sensors we use to measure the temperature of the wrist at night. These are actually in different places. These two temperature sensors: one is on the top front glass, the other is on the back glass touching your wrist. The water temperature sensor is actually in that little hole above the crown – this opening actually allows for both the water temperature sensor and the depth sensor.
“The Apple Watch has become a staple for so many users for so many years,” Huang said. And we’ve heard from many of them that they want to use Apple Watch wherever they go. And that includes mountains, deserts, and the ocean. We think our users are going to be very excited about this.
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