September is here, and with it, Apple’s latest iPhones and Apple Watches. At its Wonderlust event on September 12, Apple threw back the curtains on the new iPhone 15 lineup, Apple Watch Series 9, and Apple Watch Ultra 2. These devices all provide incremental improvements that make them attractive to people planning to purchase a new iPhone or Apple Watch, though they may not be irresistible upgrades for those still happy with older models. You can pre-order any of them starting September 15, with delivery and in-store availability on September 22.
Alongside the announcement, Apple revealed that iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, tvOS 17, and HomePod Software 17 will become available on September 18, with macOS 14 Sonoma arriving on September 26. Wait a week or two before installing this first batch of updates on essential devices to avoid any last-minute bugs, and hold off on Sonoma for a few months or until you’re confident your necessary Mac apps are compatible. Regardless of when you upgrade, make a backup right before in case an unexpected problem forces you to erase and restore.
Let’s look at each of the new products.
iPhone 15 Lineup
Last year, Apple moved to a four-part iPhone lineup that continues this year, with the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 and the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Plus. On the high end, we get the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, again in those 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes. The company updated the industrial design with slightly contoured corners. The iPhone 15 models come in five pastel colors with an aluminum enclosure and color-infused back glass, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro models now boast a titanium enclosure in four colors.
Along with the updated industrial design, all the iPhone 15 models share three notable changes:
USB-C for charging and data transfer: Driven by new European Union regulations, the iPhone 15 models all trade their Lightning port for a USB-C jack. Although it will be annoying to keep both Lightning and USB-C cables around until all Lightning devices have aged out, many Apple users already have USB-C cables and chargers for iPads and MacBooks.
Roadside Assistance via satellite: This extension of Emergency SOS via satellite allows anyone experiencing vehicle difficulties in a cellular dead zone to get help using satellite messaging. Apple includes access to satellite services for 2 years, and AAA membership in the US includes the roadside service. Those who aren’t AAA members will be able to purchase service separately.
Better Precision Finding: The iPhone 15 and new Apple Watch models all have a second-generation Ultra Wideband chip that lets users employ Precision Finding in the Find My app to locate each other accurately at a much greater range. Apple suggests you can use it to find iPhone 15-equipped friends in a crowd.
Although the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus aren’t as technologically capable as their Pro siblings, they’re more interesting than the iPhone 14 models they supplant. They receive increased performance thanks to the A16 Bionic chip from the iPhone 14 Pro, and the chip also enables computational photography improvements on top of a new 48-megapixel camera. Also inherited from the iPhone 14 Pro is the Dynamic Island, which displays alerts and Live Activities in the area surrounding the camera and sensor package at the top of the screen, eliminating the need for a notch.
Even though there’s more new on the Pro end, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max don’t make as significant a jump from their iPhone 14 Pro predecessors. The change everyone will notice is the new Action button that replaces the Ring/Silent switch. You can press and hold it to put an iPhone 15 Pro into silent mode or redefine it to activate Voice Memos, set Focus modes, access the camera or flashlight, enable Accessibility options, or launch a Shortcut.
The 48-megapixel main camera gains additional computational photography capability thanks to the new A17 Pro chip underpinning the iPhone 15 Pro models, but the most noteworthy enhancement is restricted to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. A tetraprism design enables its Telephoto camera to achieve a 5x optical zoom, an unprecedented capability available only for photographers who don’t mind the 6.7-inch form factor.
Several other improvements are technically impressive but likely of interest and utility only to media professionals. The iPhone 15 Pro’s USB-C port supports USB 3 transfer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second (the iPhone 15 is limited to USB 2.0’s pokey 480 megabits per second), and support for Wi-Fi 6e will enable faster wireless transfers. Both will be welcome to those transferring large image, audio, or video files.
Pricing remains basically the same, with the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus starting at $799 and $899 for 128 GB of storage, with 256 GB and 512 GB options. The iPhone 15 Pro costs $999 for 128 GB, with 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB storage options. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is $1199 for 256 GB, with 512 GB and 1 TB storage options. If those prices are too steep for your budget, the iPhone SE ($429), iPhone 13 ($599), and iPhone 14 ($699) all remain for sale.
It might be worth upgrading from an iPhone 14 to an iPhone 15 for the 48-megapixel camera and Dynamic Island, but it’s harder to recommend an upgrade from an iPhone 14 Pro unless you find the 5x Telephoto camera indispensable. Otherwise, the older your current iPhone, the more you’ll be impressed by the new models.
Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2
Last year brought the release of the beefy Apple Watch Ultra, so it wasn’t surprising that Apple gave us the Apple Watch Ultra 2 this year alongside the Apple Watch Series 9. They have no industrial design changes, and their improvements are driven by the increased performance and efficiency of Apple’s new S9 SiP (a package containing multiple chips).
Most notable among the changes is a new double tap gesture, which relies on the S9’s faster Neural Engine to detect when your index finger and thumb perform a double tap. watchOS 10 interprets the gesture as activating the primary button in an app, so it can be used to answer or end a phone call, stop a timer, play and pause music, snooze an alarm, take a photo, or open and scroll through the new watchOS 10 Smart Stack from the watch face. It will be available next month.
Other S9-driven improvements include:
Brighter displays: The Apple Watch Series 9 can now display up to 2000 nits, and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 can go up to 3000 nits, making them more readable in bright sunlight.
On-device Siri: Siri requests that don’t require information from the Internet can now be processed on the Apple Watch locally, making Siri more helpful for starting workouts or setting timers when there’s no cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity.
More capable and accurate Siri: You can now use Siri to access Health data such as sleep hours, Activity ring progress, and more. Plus, you can use Siri to log health data such as weight, period, or medications taken. These capabilities will be available later this year. Apple also claims 25% more accurate dictation.
Precision Finding and HomePod integration: The second-generation Ultra Wideband chip in the S9 enables the Precision Finding feature that can direct you to a lost iPhone 15 rather than just playing a sound. Also, when you get close to a HomePod, the Apple Watch provides media controls or offers media suggestions in the Smart Stack.
Finally, both the original Apple Watch Ultra and the new model gain a new Modular Ultra watch face that uses the outermost edge of the large display to present real-time data like seconds, altitude, or depth.
The Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399 for a 41mm aluminum GPS-only model; 45mm models are $30 more, and cellular connectivity adds $100. It’s available in pink, midnight, starlight, silver, and PRODUCT(RED). In stainless steel, pricing starts at $699 for a 41mm model and includes cellular connectivity; the 45mm models are $50 more. Some textile bands and all stainless steel bands cost an additional $50 to $300. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 remains $799 with an Alpine Loop, Trail Loop, or Ocean Band.
While undoubtedly the most capable watches Apple has ever produced, these new models don’t offer enough new to warrant an upgrade from last year’s models. They’re great for those getting started with the Apple Watch or upgrading from a much older version. Don’t forget that Apple still sells the Apple Watch SE, which lacks the Always-On display and ECG capabilities of the Series 9 but is $150 less expensive. Apple’s comparison page can help you tease out the differences.
Are you among the millions of people planning to get a new iPhone 15? It’s exciting, we know, but don’t move too fast when getting started with your new iPhone, or you might cause yourself headaches. Instead, follow these instructions when you’re ready to transfer your data—and, for many people, much of your digital life—to the new iPhone. Apple also has a series of videos you can watch.
September is upon us, so Apple will soon start releasing major upgrades for all its operating systems. Note that we say “start.” Apple will undoubtedly release iOS 17 and watchOS 10 alongside new iPhone and Apple Watch models in mid-September. The company hasn’t said when it will release iPadOS 17, although it’s likely to accompany iOS 17. macOS 14 Sonoma may wait until the release of new Macs later in the fall. tvOS 17 isn’t interesting enough to worry about much either way.
Although Web browsers have added productivity features over the years, most have not been overhauled to support modern usage patterns. We have bulging bookmarks bars, tabs by the trillions, and inefficient habits like using searches to load even regularly used websites. Arc, an innovative new Web browser for the Mac from The Browser Company, addresses these issues and could radically improve your productivity. It is a free download.
Based on Chromium, the open-source foundation under Google Chrome, Arc is in some ways a more capable, more attractive version of Chrome. It supports Chrome extensions, and Web apps designed to perform best in Chrome run equally well in Arc.
Spaces Give You Room to Work
What sets Arc apart from Chrome—and all other browsers—is how it enables users to organize their work into Spaces. Spaces are color-coded sidebars for different types of activities, so you can set them up based on what distinctions make sense to you. You might have Spaces for home and work, and perhaps another for a club or hobby. You could put all your news reading and social media into a Space or make a Space for financial or healthcare websites. If you’re a freelancer or consultant, you could create a Space for each client, and each Space can have its own Profile that maintains separate logins, history, saved passwords, extensions, and more.
Space Sidebars Hold Pinned Tabs and Regular Tabs
Spaces are only the start of the clever ways Arc helps you focus on your work and load Web pages more efficiently. Each Space sidebar hosts its own persistent pinned tabs for Web apps, sites, and pages. Once you are logged in to a website and have a page open that you return to often, you can make that into a pinned tab—after which you can return to it with one click. Optional folders can hold related pinned tabs for additional organization.
You can change the name and icon of pinned tabs so they’re easier to differentiate. A click on a pinned tab’s icon takes you back to the original pinned URL if necessary, and Control-clicking a pinned tab lets you update a pinned tab’s incorrect URL rather than recreating it. For example, if a pinned tab takes you to a website’s public home page, you should update it with the personalized dashboard page you see after logging in.
Think of pinned tabs as better bookmarks—they’re always visible in the sidebar rather than hidden in a menu, and you can switch among pinned tabs fluidly without losing your place, whereas using bookmarks constantly creates new tabs interspersed with all the old ones. If switching back and forth between two tabs is clumsy, for example, while you’re writing in one tab and researching in another, you can open them in Arc’s Split View. Option-click any tab to add it to a Split View; press Command-W to close the active tab.
Of course, many tabs don’t need to be persistent, and below your pinned tabs, you’ll see standard tabs that work like regular tabs in other browsers. Arc’s innovation here is that it automatically archives these tabs after a user-specified time to prevent tab overload.
When a Tab Is Too Much: Peeks and Little Arc
Arc understands that you often need to read a Web page only briefly. By default, when you are working in a pinned tab, if you click a link to another site, Arc opens it in a Peek—a sort of overlaid window (below left)—that you can close after reading or retain as a standard tab.
Another default setting opens links clicked in other Mac apps in Little Arc, a sidebar-free browser window that provides a focused look at a page without distracting you with everything else that’s open in Arc (below right). Again, when you’re done, you close the Little Arc window or open it in a Space.
Arc Allows Many Usage Styles
Like any good Mac app, it’s easy to use the mouse to get around, but Arc is wired with many easily discovered keyboard shortcuts that help increase productivity—it’s one of those apps that offers a lot to users who take the time to master a few nuances.
For example, to open a new tab in Arc, you can just click the New Tab item in the current Space’s sidebar to open the Command Bar and then type your URL or web search. Press Command-T also opens the Command Bar. Once you get used to using the Command Bar to search the Web, note that you can also type words in the name of an Arc command (try “downloads” to access the View Downloads command) to issue it quickly—this is often faster than looking for the command in Arc’s menus.
Another particularly useful keyboard shortcut is Control-Tab. Press it to switch back and forth between your two most recent tabs, or pause briefly to display a graphical switcher with the five most recent tabs—it works just like the Mac’s Command-Tab app switcher.
Arc offers many other clever shortcuts: One of our favorites is pressing Command-Option-N to open the Command Bar from within any app, generating a Little Arc window with the results. You can also press Command-Shift-C to copy the current page’s URL. This is great when your boss asks you to “toss me that URL in the chat” while in a video call. Bloggers will love pressing Command-Shift-Option-C to copy the current URL in Markdown format. And then there’s Command-Option-V, which creates a new tab from the contents of the clipboard, either by loading a URL or performing a search.
If Arc’s default keystrokes don’t work for you, you can customize them to be more memorable, with settings that control whether Arc or a website gets preference for conflicting shortcuts.
Arc Goes Beyond Basic Web Browsing
Arc has a few genuinely unusual features that we are enjoying experimenting with.
Boosts: A graphical editor lets you change how any website looks whenever you load it, enabling you to tweak website colors, fonts, font sizes, and more. You can even delete particular interface elements. Along with fun uses and fixing sites with significant design lapses, Boosts are an accessibility win, letting users with vision issues adjust websites for easier reading. A Boost Gallery lets you see what others have done.
Easels: A Capture command lets you take a snapshot of a portion of a Web page and add it to an Easel, a collaborative digital whiteboard you can share with other users. Captures can be static images that link back to their original pages—helpful for creating a mood board or for comparisons in online shopping—or HTML snippets that act like live windows into their original sites.
Getting Started with Arc
The main hurdle in adopting Arc is figuring out how best to use it. Be sure to import from your current browser when you first launch it, and then set up a few Spaces and organize your old bookmarks into pinned tabs. (Just drag a tab above the divider in the sidebar to pin it.) In a day or two, you should see how having your regularly used sites lined up in the sidebar for quick access saves time and makes you more productive.
Currently, Arc runs only on the Mac (macOS 12 Monterey and later), although The Browser Company makes an Arc Mobile Companion app for the iPhone and iPad. It’s not yet a full-fledged browser, but it syncs your Spaces and pinned tabs, making it easy to access your most-used sites on the go. A Windows version of Arc is in beta.
(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/Bussarin Rinchumrus)
At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the company unveiled the upcoming versions of its operating systems: macOS 14 Sonoma, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and tvOS 17. They won’t be available until September or October of 2023, and even once they ship, we recommend waiting a few weeks before upgrading your smaller Apple devices and holding off on macOS upgrades for a couple of months.
Email may be the most common form of phishing, but it’s not the only one. Modern Web browsers support a technology that enables websites to display system-level notifications just like regular apps. These push notifications have good uses, such as letting frequently updated websites inform users of new headlines, changed discussion threads, and more.