Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams unveils the Apple Watch Series 6 on Tuesday. Photo: Apple via APP

Apple rolls out virtual fitness service, new watch, subscription bundle, catering to pandemic work-from-home

By Stephen Nellis

Apple Inc rolled out a new virtual fitness service and a bundle of all its subscriptions, Apple One, focusing a holiday-season product launch on services that are the backbone of Apple's growth strategy and that cater to customers working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apple also introduced a new Apple Watch Series 6 that monitors blood oxygen and will cost $399 and a more basic Apple Watch SE for $279.

But the bevy of incremental updates to existing hardware and subscription price tinkering disappointed investors, with Apple shares closing up 0.2%.

The Apple One bundle will cost $15 per month for an individual plan or $20 per month for a family plan and include television, music and games. Apple is also offering a bundle for$30 per month that adds news, the fitness service and more storage.

"It's a lot more aggressive pricing than I thought," said Ben Bajarin, principal analyst for consumer market intelligence at research firm Creative Strategies, adding that Apple customers already paying $15 a month for family plans to some of the company's content servers would likely find the largest bundle a "no-brainer."

Apple's top streaming music rival Spotify Technology criticized the bundle, saying Apple was abusing its dominant market position to favor Apple Music. Spotify, which is pursuing an antitrust case against Apple in the European Union and has spoken with U.S. authorities probing the iPhone maker, charges $10 a month for its streaming service that competes with Apple but will not be eligible for Apple's bundle.

In a statement responding to Spotify's criticism, Apple said the bundle was aimed at existing users of its services and that"customers can discover and enjoy alternatives to every one of Apple’s services."

Apple said both new watches and a new eighth-generation iPad can be pre-ordered starting Tuesday and will be available on Friday. Apple also introduced the Apple Fitness+ service, powered by its watches, that will deliver virtual workouts for$10 per month or $80 per year and be available before the end of the year.

Apple's fitness service puts it closer to competition with Peloton Interactive Inc, which makes connected exercise gear and sells subscriptions to online fitness classes. Apple said that most of its workouts were designed to be conducted with either no equipment or minimal gear such as a set of dumbbells. Peloton's workouts typically require either a bike or a treadmill. Shares of Peloton closed up 4%.

The ability of the Apple Watch to monitor blood oxygen seeks to beat a similar feature already available on watches from rival Fitbit Inc, which Alphabet Inc's Google is buying for $2.1 billion. Apple said its watch will be able to take absolute blood oxygen measurements on-demand while the user is still, while Fitbit's devices currently show either variations in blood oxygen levels or a set of measurements taken while the user is sleeping.

Apple also for the first time offered a way to use an Apple Watch without pairing it one-to-one with an iPhone, offering what it calls "Family Setup."


Apple added a faster chip to its base model iPad, which it priced at $329 for consumers and $299 for education customers. Apple's new iPad Air will cost $599 and look more like its iPad Pro models and a new A14 processor chip that Apple says will be the first to use a 5-nanometer chip manufacturing process.

An update of Apple's biggest seller - the iPhone - is expected to be announced next month after executives have said its launch will be delayed by several weeks because of pandemic-related disruptions.

Apple said flu investigators in Washington state will study heart rate and blood oxygen data from Apple Watch for potential early signs of respiratory conditions like influenza and COVID-19.

Doctors in India and other countries have used pulse oximeters to remotely check on COVID-19 patients and ensure their oxygen saturation level does not fall too low.

Apple shares have soared this year even as the virus has crippled economies around the world, thanks in large part to booming sales of work-from-home items.

Apple shares gave up gains to trade flat on Tuesday after climbing more than 50% for the year, well ahead of the 23% gain for the Nasdaq. Even though Apple stock has fallen from a record high earlier this month, it remains near a $2-trillion stock market valuation.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Article doesn't say much about the new Ipad Air, which is attracting lots of attention. I'd want one if I could think of why I'd need one. My Kindle Fire 8, at a tiny fraction of the price at $100, does everything I need.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Looks like they’re starting to phase out the lightning connector... finally. I’d hold off from buying any new Apple devices that don’t use USB -C now... unless it’s absolutely needed.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I wonder if all of the medical diagnostic features of the new Apple Watch will be available in Japan? They haven't been in the past if you bought a watch in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My Kindle Fire 8, at a tiny fraction of the price at $100, does everything I need.

If you do the Google Play Store hack, Fire tablets are very capable for typical tablet use and very cheap.

You can get a fingertip oximeter like the ones clinics use for about 2000 yen. Some companies have started measuring it in fitness watches, but there is little info on what the number means and apparently you have to stop exercising to measure it, a no-no for running or cycling.

"It's a lot more aggressive pricing than I thought," said Ben Bajarin, principal analyst for consumer market intelligence at research firm Creative Strategies,

The best-known online reviewer of fitness tech, DC Rainmaker, says the service doesn't offer very much for the money. It is also English-language only.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I wish they'd innovate their computers and make them super fast and clean and sell them for $400-500. I'd hope back on board with them.

This bundling thing makes sense for them business-wise but it won't have me in it. Don't need any extra fees for things I already get for free.

BTW, that Jeff Williams in this picture needs to tuck his shirt in. Both him and Tim Fox look like dorks like that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Desperation at Apple, everything that's useless is now packaged. Governments should force them to stop deliberately shortening the user lives of their products or to make hardware in good working order unusable as no more updating. The Eu is trying. Apples glory days are over again at least for a while.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Robert, what is exactly do you base "Apple's glory days are over again"?

Just a reminder of the news the other day:

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Great that we don't need to pair it with an iPhone. Opens up the market to us Android phone users.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Apple watches are the worst. Apparently they only give half a day of battery. Many people I talk to with an Apple watch complain so much about it.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

One day this company will be rendered irrelevant.

Its capitalistic manner is over the top. It used to mean something important when Steve Jobs was at the helm.

RIP Mr. Jobs.

Apple is a joke now. Like McDonald's over ump-tine quadrillion served! In micro bits of tech upgrade at a time.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Apple haters are always good for a laugh. But these comments here a way funnier than usual. Sell macs for cheaper than the component cost? lol. Half a day of battery for the watch? lol. Shortening life of their products? LOL. Never had a mac for less than ten years. iPads last for ever. Still using iPhone SE with zero problems. Wife has 2nd generation watch with zero issues. You will find Apple customers are generally loyal and for a reason.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Waddo, spot on!

Invalid CSRF. When, oh when is JT going to fix this?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The world doesn't need more Apple stuff, just the wrong time for it....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its Money for Nothing... and the Kicks are Free...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apple in Sci-Fi terms is like the BORG...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apple needs to fix that perception.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apple in Sci-Fi terms is like the BORG...

Yes, Apple, Google, Amazon, FaceBook... They're taking over a lot of industries that used to be thought of as immune to advances made by tech companies. They are being assimilated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Half a day of battery for the watch? lol.

Apple states 18 hours, which they cunningly describe as "all day battery life", a slightly devious way of acknowledging that it may well not last a full 24 hours while sort of implying the opposite.

"Our goal for battery life is 18 hours after an overnight charge, factoring in things like checking the time, receiving notifications, using apps, and doing a 60-minute workout. And because everyone will use Apple Watch differently, we tested several other metrics as well.",the%20course%20of%2018%20hours

And actually, they really state "up to 18 hours", a slightly devious way of admitting that it may not last even that long. So while you sneer that someone says it goes for half a day, Apple say the device - with this kind of performance, let's not call it a watch - is sorta capable of 18 hours. Under other use cases listed on that page, they think it gets 14, 11, etc. Note that 14 is just over half a day, and 11 is less than half a day.

So there's the reason that when you see Apple Watches on people's wrists, the display tends to be off. It's an awkward "in-between" device that doesn't reach the feature level of a smartphone and can't come close to the performance level of a wristwatch. It's practically designed to crap out when you need it, which is why no one with anything serious to do would rely on a smartwatch. They use real watches.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Or you can use Gonoodle videos for free. Just saying .....................

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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