Apple's 'Far Out' event felt more like an infomercial, highlighted by the Apple Watch Ultra and Dynamic Island

Apple Watch Ultra
(Image credit: Apple)

As I watched Apple's "Far Out" event, one question popped into my head: How long ago did Apple record this? I'm not talking about the product introductions made by Tim Cook and many of his employees. Instead, I wondered how long ago everything was in place for Apple to create those series of lengthy, professionally done video clips that were packed often into the 90-minute event. 

I ask this question because this was the first recorded Apple event of the COVID era that felt every bit like an infomercial, and that's not a compliment. 

Whether it was Apple's pulling-at-your-heart-strings clip highlighting the many lives its Watch has saved to the yearly clip showing just how much better the camera system found on this year's iPhone Pro is, these presentations were beautiful, but also way too slick for their own good. And this opinion comes from someone who has loved the recorded press events Apple has held in recent years up until this point.

Hopefully, next month's Apple event for the Mac and new best iPad will rely less on flashy backdrops and more on product explanations and fun. So here's looking at you, Craig Federighi, who was desperately missed today, and anyone else at Apple who usually has a hand in making these presentations happy and memorable. 

Is it asking too much to have a live event sometime soon, Apple, even if it includes some masks? 

The Apple Watch Ultra stole the show

Apple Watch Ultra side view

(Image credit: Apple)

Despite the event theatrics, Apple did announce some excellent-looking new products today. At the top of this list was the Apple Watch Ultra, which the company spent a lot of time on to convince viewers that it wasn't for most of us, only to then price it at just $799, which is in the same neighborhood as the stainless steel models. Rumors had long ago established that the "Apple Watch Pro" would start at $1,000, which nearly everyone "in the know" felt was a little bit too much for an Apple Watch. 

At $799, however, the Apple Watch Ultra feels much more obtainable. And, given that the regular Apple Watch Series 8 doesn't have that many new bells and whistles, it could become a huge seller, even though buying one is honestly overkill for most folks. Of course, count me among the first Apple Watch Ultra buyers even though there won't be a mountain range or deep sea dive in my immediate future. 

The other big news at today's event was the new Dynamic Island feature exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro series. For months, we heard Apple was planning on ditching the notch on iPhone Pro this year, replacing it with a smaller pill-shaped camera area. This happened today, but what everyone is talking about now has little to do with its camera functions. 

Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Dynamic Island uses hardware and software to create a new interactive user experience that begins within that pill-shaped area but grows digitally, depending on what's happening on the screen. For example, from Dynamic Island, you'll see important alerts, notifications, and information from Maps, Music, and other native and third-party apps. The result looks exciting and perhaps reason enough to bypass the iPhone 14 (or all-new iPhone 14 Plus) and get one of the Pro models.

Beyond this, Apple should receive kudos for offering Emergency SOS (and crash detection) on all four new iPhones. Better still, Emergency SOS is free for 24 months.

iPhone 14 Plus replaced the mini

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus

(Image credit: Apple)

Finally, a few words about the iPhone 14 Plus, a replacement for the heavily-maligned iPhone mini. I've always thought most iPhone buyers want large smartphones, not smaller ones. So the Plus (finally) brings us a 6.7-inch iPhone at a lower price than the iPhone Pro Max. 

Regretfully, the iPhone 14 Plus arrives at a time when the regular iPhone 14 lineup gets overshadowed even more by the Pro models. We've grown to accept that Pro iPhones have better camera systems, more durable bodies, and more storage options. Unfortunately, this time around, they also have better chips and unique features.

For the first time, the Pro models are getting Apple's newest chip (the A16 Bionic), while the regular models are not. Instead, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus use the A15 Bionic chip found on the entire iPhone 13 series. This isn't necessarily a big deal from a technical standpoint since the chip is still better than the ones found on nearly every other smartphone. 

And yet, I hope this isn't a sign that Apple plans to separate the iPhone from iPhone Pro even more in the future. What's next, an all-new design for the iPhone 15 Pro and the same as previous iPhones on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus? 

Oh, let the 2023 iPhone rumors begin.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.