Technological World for September 16: Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, new iPad and iPad Air, PS5 arrives November 12, Black in Gaming award winners, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2

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This week, Sony reveals the pricing and launch date of its PS5 consoles, celebrating black creatives in video games, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 brings the best skating games back. But first, Apple announces new Apple Watches, iPads, Fitness+, and a service bundle.

New Apple Watches and iPads revealed

As suspected, Apple did not talk about new iPhones at Tuesday’s product announcement (September 15, 2020) which it called, “Time Flies”.

Instead, the company focused on new Apple Watches and iPads.

Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE announced

In introducing the new wearables, Apple emphasized the tracking functions that are built into Apple Watch, and which the company is improving.

The Series 6 edition of the Apple Watch, for example, includes a new sensor which uses lights to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood.

Blood oxygen saturation is something that can provide evidence respiratory problems including covid-19 infection.

The new sensor is also how the Apple Watch Series 6 can measure VO2 max, which is measure of how well your body can use oxygen when it’s exercising.

A new watch band, the Solo Loop, is a single, stretchable piece of silicon with no buckle or clasp. There’s also a fabric version, the Braided Solo Loop, that weaves silicon and yarn threads.

Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $529 and $659 with cellular.

The Apple Watch SE is a slightly scaled back model that doesn’t have the blood oxygen sensor, but otherwise includes all the features as the Series 6, and is also available with a cellular connection. It’s priced at $369 and $429 will cellular.

Both watches are available to order now and will be released on Friday.

The two wearables will also use the new operating system, watchOS7, which adds sleep tracking and hand wash detection and timing to Apple Watches.

Apple also announced a new feature that lets people in your household use Apple Watch without needing an iPhone. Family Setup uses a parent’s iPhone to connect a child’s cellular-enabled Apple Watch. This service is not currently available in Canada.

Two new iPads come to Apple’s tablet family

The Apple tablet was introduced 10 years ago, and in that time, Apple says they’ve sold more than 500 million units in that time.

In the online event, the company revealed the eighth generation iPad, which uses an A12 Bionic chip. With attachable keyboards and the Apple Pencil, the iPad is becoming more of a laptop replacement all the time.

The iPad Air, meanwhile, has been redesigned entirely. The 10.9-inch, all-screen design has a resolution of 2360×1640 and, like the most recent iPhones, no home button. The TouchID function is now built into the sleep/wake button at the top of the device.

It’s also got the A14 Bionic chip, which is brand new from Apple and is incredibly small, at only 5 nanometres. It’s a 6-core chip with a 4-core graphical processing unit that delivers improvements in processing speed and graphical performance.

The new iPad Air also uses a USB-C connection, has support for Wi-Fi 6, and includes a faster cellular connection for supporting models. It comes in five colours, including green and blue.

The new iPads will ship with iPadOS14, which introduces Scribble, a new feature for Apple Pencil that lets you integrate handwriting into digital documents by converting your scribble into text.

The 8th-generation iPad starts at $429 and $599 with cellular, and the new iPad Air starts at $779 and $949 with cellular.

Both tablets are available to order now, and will be released on Friday (September 18).

Apple introduces fitness service and Apple One service bundle

Apple also revealed a new fitness service designed for users of its Apple Watch.

Fitness+ service provides access to 10 different studio workouts that work endurance, flexibility, and strength. Apple says new workouts will be added each week.

The guided workouts will display on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV connected screen, and the metrics being measured and tracked by the Apple Watch will be displayed on the screen.

There’s also a beginner program that will teach people new to these kinds of workouts how to perform the movements safely.

The cost for Fitness+ is $13 a month or $100 a year, and can be shared with with up to five people in a household using Family Sharing.

People purchasing a new Apple Watch will get three months of Fitness+ for free.

Apple also announced a price plan that bundles its various services. There are three levels of Apple One.

The Individual plan is $16 a month and includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage.

The Family plan is $21 a month and includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of iCloud storage. It can be shared by up to six family members.

The Premier plan is $34 a month and includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2TB of iCloud storage. It can also be shared by up to six family members.

The bundle pricing saves subscribers $7, $10, and $32 a month, respectively.

The new subscription plans will be available later this fall.

Playstation 5 consoles are launching November 12

Sony announced today, in an online event, that its two PS5 consoles will be released on November 12, just two days after Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X launch.

The PS5 with an ultra HD Blu-ray drive is priced at $630, and the drive-less Digital Edition is priced at $500.

The event, which was streamed on Twitch and YouTube, ended with a teaser trailer of God of War: Ragnarok, a sequel to the critically-acclaimed PS4 exclusive that will ship in 2021.

We also saw more footage and gameplay from some of Sony’s key exclusives, like Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales (Insomniac Games), which will launch with the new consoles and is set a year after the events of the 2018 game that featured Peter Parker.

There’s also a new standalone game from Square Enix, Final Fantasy XVI, and Bethesda’s Deathloop, being developed at Arkane Studios, plays on the repeating day trope by having players become an assassin trying to take out eight targets while being a target himself. It was recently delayed to 2021.

Sony also announced the Playstation Plus Collection for PS5 owners, which gives subscribers access to a library of popular and defining PS4 games, including God of War, Uncharted 4, and The Last of Us Remastered.

Preorders for the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition have started for some retailers, and will be widely available tomorrow.

Celebrating Black in Gaming on National Video Games Day

Last Saturday was National Video Games Day in the U.S., and while the celebratory day is suspect, the Black in Gaming Awards, which were handed out on Saturday, are indisputable.

An initiative of the Black in Games organization, notable recipients included:

  • Game producer Shana Bryant.
  • Sarah Bond, who is the corporate vice president of Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem.
  • Actor Christopher Judge, who voiced Kratos in the acclaimed God of War (2018), who received the Excellence in Performance award.
  • Reggie Fils-Aimé, who worked at and led Nintendo of America during the release of the DS, 3DS, Wii, and Switch consoles (we won’t mention the Wii U), who was recognized with a Legacy Award.
  • Game designer Mike Pondsmith, whose Cyberpunk tabletop role-playing game inspired this fall’s video game, Cyberpunk 2077, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kick out the jams with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2

If you want to understand why Activision arranged for the remaster of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, released in 1999, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, released in 2000, all you need to do is play them.

Because while the concept of a skateboarding game seems simple – ride a skateboard in myriad environments, perform tricks – the fact that so few good skateboarding games have been created tells you everything.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, recreated with high definition graphics by Vicarious Visions (the originals were developed by Neversoft), maintains the controls that made the games so popular, which make it fun to pick up and play and with enough flexibility to chain together endless combos.

With THPS1+2, everyone is a skater.

The original pro skaters included in the first games are back, but at their real ages, and they are joined by new pros, including Tony’s son, Riley Hawk. But you can also create your own skater if you want, and you can create your own skate parks, too.

Available on PS4, Windows, Xbox One, there are eight different multiplayer modes, as well as the ability to skate with a friend in local split-screen. And the HD graphics make everything sing.

Topping off the experience is the soundtrack, which includes the original tracks and 37 new ones ranging from the rap and punk of the original games (the likes of Dead Kennedys, Primus, Public Enemy, and Rage Against the Machine) to modern-day bands like JunkBunny, Screaming Females, and Spilt Milk.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 proves that the old stuff is the best stuff, and there’s life yet left in the old guard.

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