Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – The New iPads, Apple Watch & VR

A big week of tech crunched into five minutes, covering the latest gear from Apple, what’s happening in VR from Oculus, plus the start of the console wars. Listen now.

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For the week ending September 18, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round up, and my how time flies. It seems like just yesterday we were thinking the year was just beginning, and were on our way to CES ready to face the beginning of the year, and what was new in technology.

It might be hard to believe, but that was over nine months ago, and a lot has changed since then. The world has been hit hard, but technology keeps on coming, even if we can’t fly outside the country to see it.

The good news is gear is still on the way, whether it’s what’s new from Apple, what’s new in VR, or what’s new in that upcoming next generation console war, which is clearly heating up.

In fact, all of those things were referenced this week, in what was a big week of tech.

We’ll start with the consoles first, because with the Xbox pricing announced last week, gamers had something to look forward to. If you missed it, Australians will see the Xbox Series S mid-range next-gen console at $499, while the high-end will come in the $749 Xbox Series X in November.

At the same time, Sony will have its PlayStation 5 ready, and the pricing is more or less much the same. You’ll find the high-end PlayStation 5 standard with a Blu-ray drive at $749 when it comes out in November, while a model that is the same barring the omission of a Blu-ray drive will be a little less exy at $599. That’s the PlayStation 5 digital edition, which is distinct from the Xbox Series S by being pretty much the same as the regular PS5, but without an optical drive, because not everyone needs one.

That’s in comparison to the Xbox Series S which is similar to the Series X, but actually not the same, AND it doesn’t have the Blu-ray drive.

As to which is the better deal right now, Xbox or PS5, we’re not sure yet. But as we draw closer, we’ll have a firmer idea.

And we’ll have a firmer idea on other things, too.

We’ll know more about the next wave of VR, the virtual reality headsets that promise to throw you into a digital world, as Oculus looks set to release its Quest 2 headset in Australia for under 500 dollars.

It’s a bit of a new world, but it’s one that promises cable-less VR with both on-device wireless apps, plus a connection to your computer, if you prefer apps and heavy VR games.

There’s even a bit of working world thrown in for good measure, with Oculus dabbling in productivity VR, arriving in an endless desktop environment it calls “Infinite Office”.

Despite being around for almost 30 years, VR is still really new. It’s only really reaching its renaissance now, but it has the potential to change the world.

And some things do that more than others.

An Australian startup, Forcite, is showing the potential to change the motorbike world, looking to make riding safer with a helmet that can talk to apps and provide a dashboard of sorts inside the helmet to give riders a sense of what’s coming.

Google looks set to change the world with a 5G pixel in the coming weeks, launching on October 1 in Australia.

And Apple didn’t have a phone this week. That’s kind of a change people didn’t want, because it’s about that time for a new iPhone.

That doesn’t mean a 2020 iPhone isn’t coming, but rather that it’s not going to be out in September. Rather, we think you can expect something like three or four new iPhones in October.

This month, however, Apple has new iPads and a couple of new Watches, because that’s what it had to launch at this week’s “Time Flies” event. It also had some software services including a fitness package, not to mention the new releases of iOS, iPad OS, and watchOS, but most of the attention was on the hardware.

So what’s new?

Well, there are two new models of the Apple Watch, as the Series 6 adds blood oxygen tracking, handy to monitor more of your whole health, giving a holistic approach to fitness. The Series 6 still has an ECG in it, but Australians still can’t access it, as no ECG in a smartwatch is approved locally yet.

A new model of what is basically the last Watch, the Series 5, is arriving in the Apple Watch SE, a watch that costs about a hundred less, and arrives without the ECG or blood oxygen tracking. It’s basically like last year’s Apple Watch for Australia, since that ECG feature is stuck until the Therapeutic Goods Association says yes, which it hasn’t yet.

And that leaves the $299 Series 3 sticking around, an older model that is now Apple’s entry-level Watch of sorts.

Otherwise, Apple has two new iPads.

There’s a new model of the iPad Air on the way, and it’s basically a colourful take on the iPad Pro. Coming in five colours, there’s a new chip similar to what we think we’ll be in the new iPhones, the A14, and a design like the iPad Pro, even handling the same accessories.

While the standard iPad is now a little less expensive and a little faster. We’ve been playing with it, and the iPad 8th gen now represents about the best value a tablet can be, handling a keyboard accessory, the Apple Pencil, and delivering more performance. Starting from just under $500, it is very hard to beat. Good luck to any who try.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. We’ll be back next week for more tech in five, but until then, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.

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