I hadn’t really planned to write a separate post for the video above, in which I put the Apple Watch Ultra in my underwater depth test chamber. Mainly because my list of non-Apple things is growing and there are lots of other cool things to get your hands on. However, after posting the video, I saw some questions about the lack of Apple’s ascent rate warnings and safety stops. So I thought I’d cover this quickly, just as a link to something.
But first, if you haven’t watched the video yet – you should. Especially if you’re into geeky things (that’s why you’re here, right?). For these long-term measurements, you will recall that almost a decade ago I had a depth test chamber made that allows me to simulate different depths – including creating entire dive profiles every second. I can literally recreate any dive profile I want and have the machine control it, down to the second to emulate the dive. It’s super cool. I go into the full backstory in the last 3 minutes of the video (literally titled “Story Time”).
Before we get to that though, I’ll explain that the Apple Watch Ultra is essentially a certified diving device and that there are two levels of “design”. The first is the hardware design, which is certified to a depth of 100m. And then the second is their software app, designed for use to depths of 40m (131ft). This native app is called…err…depth. And it basically aims to show your current, well… depth (and duration/water temp). But that’s it.
But Apple made a big deal about their partnership with Huish Outdoors and their upcoming app called the Oceanic+ app in the keynote. This app (which costs $79/year) has all the dive-related features you would find in a regular dive computer. Things like dive planning, water type, ascent warnings, safety stops, mixed gas options, etc. This app is not available today and is scheduled for release sometime this fall.
Now, in the keynote, they briefly showed some app data pages, but it was a meager pick. However, if you found the right person over in the hands-on area at the post-keynote tables, there was a guy demoing the app. I got a long hands-on demo, but it wasn’t quite the focus of my time there. While that was cool (there are some tidbits in my original Apple Watch Ultra video), what’s even more useful is this nifty spreadsheet I was sent showing a bunch of screenshots from the Oceanic+ app, including things like ascension alerts etc.
And then it’s all coupled with the Oceanic+ phone app, which has a dive log including showing entry/exit GPS points on the map and full details of the dive (plus pre-dive planning).
Of course, all of this would be a super interesting comparison to the Garmin Descent G1 ($649), which has been in my long-term review queue for many months. I have a number of dives and a boatload of non-dive stuff too. Basically, the Descent G1 is an Instinct 2 Solar, but with all the dive stuff from Garmin’s high-end Descent MK2 series ($1,299). The core dive-specific difference is that there is no air integration (which then requires the $1,499 version of the MK2 plus air integration module for another $400). Below exit G1.
Price-wise, the Descent G1 is cheaper than the Apple Watch Ultra ($799) and of course has all the native dive essentials built-in, while the Ultra would currently require the $79-a-year subscription to the Oceanic+ app. Obviously there are a ton of other differences between the two watches.
Anyway, this is coming up on a tangent, but a few of you asked my thoughts there as well. Certainly there are many reasons why someone would choose Garmin vs. Apple or vice versa, beyond just diving. And until the Oceanic+ app is released, it’s hard to know exactly how these two feature sets compare.
Hope you found the video interesting – and get ready for more busy weeks ahead. Definitely a fun time of year!
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