Apple event: A new fitness service and updates to Watch and iPad

The service, called Fitness+, will be available before the end of the year at $9.99 a month.
Image: Apple special event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino
Jay Blahnik unveils Apple Fitness+ during a special event at the company's headquarters of Apple Park in a still image from video released in Cupertino, Calif., on Sept. 15, 2020.Apple Inc / Reuters
By David Ingram

Apple said Tuesday it was launching a remote fitness service, the company’s first venture into online workout videos and a move timed with the pandemic-inspired increase in home exercise.

The service, called Fitness+, will be available before the end of the year at $9.99 a month, Jay Blahnik, Apple’s senior director for fitness technologies, said during an online company event, which included the announcement of new versions of its iPad and Watch products and a new way to buy Apple services in a bundle.

Blahnik said the service would include new online workouts each week from Apple’s own team of trainers. It will include 10 types of exercises, including yoga, cycling, strength training and “even mindful cool downs,” he said.

The service will be integrated with a newly updated Apple Watch and with the company’s music service, pulling together several of the company’s product lines into one experience, he said.

Apple Fitness+: A new fitness experience powered by Apple Watch.Apple

The new fitness service adds to Apple's growth beyond its core hardware businesses — primarily the iPhone — which now includes music, television and video games. The company said it would begin offering those services in a bundle, called Apple One, starting at $14.95 a month.

The announcement by the tech giant immediately reverberated throughout the fitness industry. Shares in remote cycling company Peloton fell 5 percent on the news.

At the event, Apple said it was also rolling out updated versions of its Apple Watch and iPad products in a major test of consumer demand for new electronic devices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

We apologize, this video has expired.

In a pared down version of the company’s annual fall launch event, Apple executives spoke about the new products and played up what they called the potential health benefits of the watch in particular.

Apple said the new watch, called Series 6, will include a new tool to measure blood oxygen levels and an improved tool for measuring sleep. The company said it was partnering with academic researchers at several universities on health studies involving the watch.

The watch will now include a countdown timer for hand-washing, to encourage wearers to continue washing for a full 20 seconds, said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. It will not have a USB power adapter, though, as the company said it’s trying to cut down on adapters for environmental reasons.

The Series 6 will sell for $399 and up, with a pared down version called Apple Watch SE starting at $279. An earlier Series 3 watch will still be available for $199, the company said.

The new (PRODUCT)RED Apple Watch Series 6 with exclusive matching Solo Loop.Apple

The fact that Apple held a launch event at all is another sign of how U.S. companies are attempting to restart business even as the coronavirus pandemic persists.

The pandemic forced Apple to tone down Tuesday’s announcement from the company’s typically flashy launch events. The company streamed the production from its headquarters in Cupertino, California, but without the usual large crowd packed into an auditorium.

But the event may still be important for Apple as the company tries to stir enthusiasm among consumers ahead of the holiday shopping season, which includes an additional layer of uncertainty this year because of Covid-19.

It hasn’t been clear when, for example, Apple will unveil its latest iPhones. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Apple had pushed back production by a month as the pandemic disrupted manufacturing and supply chains.

Tim Cook kicks off the September 2020 event from Apple Park in Cupertino, Calif.Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking from what looked like a hallway at the company’s headquarters, said Tuesday that it was inspiring to see people coming together during the pandemic. “We know that life won’t always be like this, and we’re all looking forward to better days,” he said.

One of the academic studies involving the Apple Watch is happening at New York’s Mount Sinai medical system, where researchers say they’re trying to understand the effects of the coronavirus on staff.

For much of the pandemic, Apple’s decisions on when to close and reopen its retail store locations has been watched as a key indicator of how different regions of the U.S. and the world were responding to the virus.

Apple’s rivals are also rolling out products this fall. Samsung is scheduled to launch its new folding phone Friday for $1,999, its third iteration of a phone that unfolds into a tablet.