Welcome to our Apple Weekend Breakfast column, featuring all the Apple news you missed this week in a handy bite-sized recap. We call it Apple Breakfast because we love it with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but it’s also cool if you want to read it over lunch or dinner.
“This product literally saved my life. 7/10”
This week I mainly reviewed the Apple Watch Series 8, a bland update to Apple’s excellent wearables line. On the one hand, it changes little from the previous generation, which is boring; but it’s also the best mid-priced smartwatch on the market. If it ain’t broke I guess why fix it?
Products like the Series 8 can be a challenge for reviewers, who are naturally inclined to seek out and evaluate changes. It’s important to remember that most people looking to buy a product haven’t tried the previous model and iterative upgrades can still be a must-buy. (Assuming you don’t have a Series 7, of course. If you do, you should probably put your wallet away for another year.) The media machine wants thrills, but boring is often good.
Oddly enough, the only exciting change for this year’s watches is another challenge for reviewers, but in a very different way. Crash detection is a fascinating addition to the iPhone and Apple Watch, but it is also very difficult to test because it has an effect in moments of great danger.
That’s not to say a few reviewers, bless them, haven’t gotten the opportunity. YouTuber TechRax came in first, drove one (remote-controlled) car into another and recorded the results as expected. But the Wall Street Journal’s later tests (with a destruction derby champion, for extra style points) were less successful: Devices in the crashing cars did their job, but those in the cars getting hit by a car consistently failed to recognize the situation. Apple has argued that the feature was messed up by the lack of movement leading up to the crash, and that it will perform better in real life situations. Maybe, but how do you test a function that needs a life-threatening real-world situation to work properly?
The extremely small sample size of Crash Detection testers among the dozens of reviews already published raises another profound question: How much weight should a reviewer give to a feature that could literally save your life, but usually won’t do anything at all? At the Far Out event, Apple’s presenters repeatedly said they hoped the user wouldn’t have to use the feature, and it’s a kind of consumer technology that Pascal deploys: Would a feature that offers peace of mind but might never be used be a reason to spend money $399 for an upgrade.
That’s presumably the equation Apple hoped we all would have in mind when it put together the “Dear Tim” segment from last month’s Far Out press event. This was a surreal video of customer testimonials who had survived horrifying ordeals thanks to their Apple devices, along with Apple TV+-esque dramatizations featuring bears and crashed planes. It would be unkind to interpret this as “Buy Apple products or get eaten”, but there was definitely a hint of… Memento Moric. Life is precious.
The sad reality that we can face technical reviewers is that some features can’t really be rated. With something as existential as crash detection, the best way to investigate and explain the mechanism is to let customers make their own decision. It could save your life, we have to say, but the chance of this happening is so small and the consequences so great, that it’s impossible to rationally factor that into a review score. (Note, the idea that it will save your life, the peace of mind it will give you is a real and valuable benefit that is much easier to quantify and should not be dismissed.)
It is, of course, possible that this is all post-rationalization. I haven’t done proper crash testing with my Series 8; I just drove up and down the street doing sudden emergency stops to see if that triggered the warning. (It didn’t.) And then I went back home and wrote about the quality of the screen, which is very nice and doesn’t require me to weigh the value of a lifetime for a smartwatch review.
Trending: Top Stories of the Week
Dan Moren completes three must-have features in iOS 16 and watchOS 9 that you may have missed.
Ken Mingis explains how the Apple Watch Ultra convinced him to finally switch from Garmin.
Despite Apple’s best efforts, Meta and Google are still not under control.
In an interview with the BBC, Tim Cook has the lack of women in the technical industry.
Amazon announced a new event later this month called Prime Early Access Sale, meaning you could save big on Apple gear.
We’ve posted another review of Apple’s Fall product list:
Plus three mutual comparisons:
The rumor mill
The M2 iPad Pro probably coming very soon.
And the Mac mini M2 could start in October. About time!
It can be quiet this fall. But there are five all-new Apple products which could debut in 2023.
apples October event might not happen at all, according to Mark Gurman.
But Roman Loyola thinks Apple’s October event is come – and be new MacBook Pros.
Speaking of that topic, here’s everything you can expect on the October eventassuming it happens.
Adaptive transparencyof the best AirPods Pro 2 features, comes to the original model.
Podcast of the week
Less than 100 days left in 2022 – what can Apple release in this short time? We talk about what we expect to see for the rest of the year in this episode of the Macworld Podcast!
You can watch every episode of the Macworld Podcast on Spotify, Soundcloud, the Podcasts app or our own site.
Software updates, bugs and issues
A security researcher has warned of nine iOS apps that “commit various forms of ad fraud”. Remove them now.
Apple has expanded Stage manager support for older iPads, while an important feature is delayed.
And with that, we’re done for this week. If you would like to receive regular round-ups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news stories. See you next Saturday, enjoy your weekend and stay Appley.