Surfaces, rings, and screen temperatures
Instruction Set, 2022/9/15
Welcome back to Multicore. This is Instruction Set for the week of Friday, September 15th, which you may have noticed was last week. We’re coming off an extended holiday weekend here in Japan; time to take stock of everything that’s happened.
Obviously last week saw a major product launch with repercussions that will be felt throughout the upcoming year. I’m talking, of course, about Columbus Circle’s potentially miraculous new HDMI converter for the PlayStation Portable, which offers full 1080p output through the PSP’s proprietary headphone jack. It’s set for release next month.
Fullscreen Metal Gear Acid 2, folks. Let’s do this.
But Apple also announced some stuff, so we should probably get into that too. I wrote up thoughts on the new iPhones already; here’s what else was there.
Wait, no, sorry. Before we get into that, a gigantic trove of unredacted documents from Microsoft’s recent case against the FTC appears to have leaked as I write this, including a ton of information on its future Xbox plans. It is so much that I don’t even know how this possibly could have happened. For example, here is supposedly a slide detailing an upcoming digital-only Series X refresh:
Why would this have marketing slogans on it, let alone ones as bad as “now adorably all digital”? But as far as I or anyone else can tell, the leak appears to be authentic and truly unprecedented in scale. Microsoft is yet to comment. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.
Okay, actually back to Apple now. First up, some reasonably substantial Watch updates. The Series 9 has the first truly new processor (or “system-in-package”, in Apple parlance) for the Watch in three years, bringing a claimed 30% increase in GPU performance while maintaining the same battery life.
There’s now a quad-core neural engine that can process Siri requests on-device for things like workouts, though only in English and Mandarin to start. The S9 processor also has a second-gen ultra-wideband chip that Apple is conspicuously choosing not to call the U2. The screen goes up to 2,000 nits brightness, double the Series 8’s, and can drop all the way down to 1 nit.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2, meanwhile, also has the S9 chip and a brighter screen that can reach 3,000 nits. There’s a new watch face that looks both pretty good and more information-dense than anything Apple has shipped before.
Apple also highlighted a new ability for the Watch to pair with cadence sensors over Bluetooth, though that’s really just part of watchOS 10. It’s a feature I’ve theoretically wanted for a while; now that I can track exercise bike workouts while watching American football on my iPad, I guess I actually have to do it. Get back to me on that one in a couple of years.
The real biggest addition to the Apple Watch appears to be Double Tap, a new S9-only feature that lets you do simple things like pause music, stop timers, and answer phone calls by tapping your index finger and thumb together twice. Apple says it uses machine learning and blood flow data to help confirm your intent.
Double Tap sounds quite basic in scope, but I think that’s the point. Anyone who’s worn an Apple Watch for more than a couple of weeks can imagine the potential use cases. It’s a one-handed device that you can’t use one-handed. Sometimes I find myself tapping the screen with my nose when my hands are full. This seems like a much better idea.
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