Apple’s New ‘Ultra’ Watch Goes Toe-to-Toe With Garmin

Many, many other features are direct appeals to the dedicated Garmin user. For example, a new onboard precision dual-frequency GPS system is designed to help you pinpoint your satellite location, even in environments like cities full of skyscrapers or forests full of tall trees that normally block satellite signals—something that’s historically been a problem for, example, events like running a marathon through a big city.

This GPS system goes hand in hand with a host of navigational features. The compass app has been redesigned, with a new hybrid view that shows both the analog dial and a digital view, and turning the digital crown lets you see your latitude, longitude, and elevation. Features like Backtrack are a direct ripoff of Garmin’s breadcrumb feature, which lets you retrace your steps when you inevitably wander off the hiking trail to pee and get sadly lost in the backcountry.

The glowing red night mode, on the right, activates in dark environments. 

Photograph: Apple

There are other features that are all Apple’s own, like a beamforming algorithm that allows the mic to capture your voice and reduce background noise with special wind-reduction algorithms for when you have to take a work call from the top of the ski lift.

This being Apple, I also must mention the accessories. The Ultra comes with one of three new bands: a soft, thin, flexible Trail loop band; an Alpine band with high-strength yarn and a titanium G-hook fastener; and an Ocean band made from a flexible fluoroelastomer, again with a titanium buckle. And of course, the Ultra has been certified to the MIL-STD-810H standard for military equipment, with testing against factors like low and high temperatures, sand and dust, shock, and more.

The Ultra is also designed to become a full-on wrist-worn dive computer. It meets recreational dive standards for waterproofing and has a new depth gauge. When it debuts this fall, the Oceanic+ app (designed in partnership with Huish Outdoors) will let divers see a decompression timetable, dive planning, a logbook, and other features serious divers need. Apple’s foray into water sports might seem incongruous, unless you already knew that Garmin makes two of the most popular dive and sailing wearables, the Descent and the Quatix.

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