Apple Fitness+ subscription service unveiled alongside Series 6 Watch

BBC Technology 15 Sep 2020 08:00

By Leo Kelion
Technology desk editor

image copyrightApple

Apple has unveiled a new personalised workout subscription service alongside new smartwatches and tablet computers.

Fitness+ collects health data gathered by an Apple Watch and then displays it alongside workout videos shown on a larger display.

The platform will compete with existing fitness apps on iOS from Peloton, Les Mills and Fiit.

It also poses a challenge to Fitbit, whose wearables benefit from their own health-coaching subscription service.

As many had forecast, Apple decided to hold back details of its next iPhones for a separate event.

Apple labs
image copyrightApple

Yoga and dance

Like some of its rivals, Fitness+ also allows competitive users to see how their own efforts compare with others who have completed the same fitness routine previously.

"Health-tracking continues to be a major focus for Apple, and its new Fitness+ service signals its intent to generate more revenue from its products in this area," commented Leo Gebbie from the consultancy CCS Insight.

It will cost £10 per month or £80 per year as a standalone service, which can be shared among members of the same family.

Alternatively, it can be purchased alongside other Apple services - including iCloud storage, Arcade video games and Apple Music - for about £30 per month - as part of the top tier of a bundle of services called Apple One.

"Support for 10 different workouts with and without equipment, and the fact it is being sold at a family price will make Fitness+ very attractive," said Carolina Milanesi from the Silicon Valley-based consultancy Creative Strategies.

Spotify, however, has suggested the bundles are another example of Apple abusing its "dominant position" and has called on regulators to intervene.

But one personal trainer said he did not see the new service as competition for one-on-one sessions with an online coach.

Oxygen saturation

The Series 6 introduces a blood-oxygen sensor to help manage conditions that affect the heart and lungs.

Apple suggested this could potentially act as means to detect the early onset of respiratory problems, although its small print says the feature is "not intended for medical use".

The SE model lacks the new sensor and uses a slower processor, but otherwise offers most of the features found in the more expensive model.

These include sleep-tracking and a new facility targeted at children called Family Set-up. It can be set to trigger automatic location notifications to a child's parents when the wearer visits familiar places like their grandparents or school.

Smartwatch sales table

"We expect to see hand-me-down Watches used in this scenario, rather than a device bought specifically for this purpose."

A14 chip

Apple typically launches its new chips inside its iPhone before its iPads, but this year the release of its new handsets have been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The machine has a fingerprint sensor built into one of its side buttons to reduce the size of the bezels, and also introduces a USB-C port, which until now had been limited to the more costly iPad Pro range.

iPad Air
image copyrightApple

Demand for tablets across the wider tech industry has risen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly used them for entertainment, home schooling and remote working.

According to IDC's figures, Apple's iPads remain the market leader, but only saw a 2% annual gain.

"Apple kept its volume but its rivals made strides via the opportunistic sale of cheaper devices," commented IDC's Marta Pinto.

This came as a surprise to many developers, who thought they had more time to submit corresponding new versions of their products to Apple's App Store.

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