Apple Watch Ultra (2022)

The Apple Watch Ultra was announced on September 7, 2022, and was described as having a “revolutionary new design with breakthrough capabilities.” Apple highlighted the Apple Watch Ultra as:

“built for endurance, exploration, and adventure. Apple Watch Ultra introduces a 49mm titanium case and flat sapphire front crystal that reveals the biggest and brightest Apple Watch display yet. A customizable Action button offers instant access to a wide range of useful features. Apple Watch Ultra has the best battery life of any Apple Watch, reaching up to 36 hours during normal use.”

The Apple Watch Ultra website focused upon the ruggedness of the design and depicted users in “extreme sport” situations including running through a desert, climbing mountains, and scuba diving. To match these scenarios, the Apple Watch Ultra offered three new band designs, the Trail Loop, Alpine Loop, and Ocean Band. Apple described each new band:

  • Trail Loop. Comfort for the long run. Designed to be light, thin, and flexible. It features a fuss-free loop closure for quick adjustments during workouts. Extra stretch built into the webbing makes it easy to cinch for optimal fit.
  • Alpine Loop. Tough as trails. Light, durable, and made from two textile layers seamlessly woven into one continuous piece without stitching. The corrosion‑resistant titanium G‑hook slips smoothly into the reinforced loops for a secure fit.
  • Ocean Band. The sea is calling. Molded from fluoroelastomer rubber, it’s lightweight and flexible. It has a titanium buckle and a spring‑loaded titanium adjustable loop that secures through the tubes for a hypersecure fit, even during high‑speed water sports. An attachable band extension lets you wear it over a thick wet suit.

In addition to its rugged design, several features were exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra. The Apple Watch Ultra had apps for scuba and free diving, a redesigned compass, a lightweight titanium case, a precision dual-frequency GPS, and its battery could last up to 36 hours (up to 60 hours in low power mode). It had a screen that was twice as bright as other Apple Watch models (up to 2000 nits) and had a night mode for low-light situations.

The Apple Watch Ultra also had an extra “Action button” on the left side that “gives you quick, physical control over a variety of functions. It’s customizable and can do things like control a workout, mark a Compass Waypoint, or begin a dive.” The “International Orange” button could be customized in the iPhone Watch app to control the following functions:

  • Workout
  • Stopwatch
  • Waypoint
  • Backtrack
  • Dive
  • Flashlight
  • Shortcut

When pressed and held, the Action Button activated an “86-decibel sound pattern to attract help” that “can be heard up to 600 feet or 180 meters away.”

The Apple Watch Ultra also had a Three‑Microphone Array to allow use in windy environments. The microphones used an adaptive algorithm that “picks the best microphone for audio. Machine learning filters noise for optimal voice clarity.”

The larger size of the Apple Watch Ultra screen allowed a few additional display features unavailable in other models. While working out, the display allowed viewing up to six simultaneous metrics. The redesigned Compass app could be accessed in a new ring display on certain watch face designs and offered real-time elevation, incline, longitude, and latitude along with the directional information.

The Apple Watch Ultra was released in just one color, size, and finish: a metallic light-beige shade of titanium. The display was 49mm. All models used three chips, including the S8 with 64-bit dual-core processor, W3 Apple wireless chip, and U1 Ultra Wideband chip. GPS and Cellular were standard features along with 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.3. It measured 49 x 44mm and was 14.4mm deep. It weighed 61.3 grams.

Sources Apple (Newsroom, product, specs)

RCA Stereo to 3.5mm Microphone Input Adapter (c. 1990)

This Apple-branded adapter allowed a powered microphone with RCA inputs (red and white plugs) to be plugged into a Macintosh with a 3.5mm microphone jack.

The adapter features an Apple logo (on the RCA plug end) and Apple’s microphone icon (used in the 1990s) on the 3.5mm plug. The adapter is made in the platinum color used by Apple throughout the 1990s until the release of the iMac in 1998.

iPhone 14 Pro (Deep Purple, 2022)

The iPhone 14 Pro was announced on September 7, 2022; began pre-orders on Friday, September 9, 2022; and was available beginning Friday, September 16, 2022. Apple’s website led with the following description of the iPhone 14 Pro:

“A magical new way to interact with iPhone. Groundbreaking safety features designed to save lives. An innovative 48MP camera for mind-blowing detail. All powered by the ultimate smartphone chip.”

The primary new technologies used in the iPhone 14 Pro included: “Always-On display, the first-ever 48MP camera on iPhone, Crash Detection, Emergency SOS via satellite, and an innovative new way to receive notifications and activities with the Dynamic Island.”

The four colors available at release were deep purple, silver, gold, and space black. The iPhone 14 Pro had a 6.1-inch “Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion” with an Always-On display (for the first time on an iPhone) that used a 1Hz refresh rate with power-efficient technologies. In practice, the Always-On display faded to a dim/dark version of the Wallpaper and allowed the time and up to four widgets to show (a widget above the time and up to 3 below the time). Other “Live Activities” showed in the bottom two-thirds of the Lock screen, including alerts and play/pause options for media.

The iPhone 14 Pro also delivered “the highest outdoor peak brightness in a smartphone: up to 2000 nits, which is twice as bright as iPhone 13 Pro.”

The Dynamic Island was also introduced in the iPhone 14 Pro. The design of this iPhone removed the “notch” that had been used since the iPhone X and moved the functions slightly lower into a pill shape. Apple described the Dynamic Island system as one “that blends the line between hardware and software, adapting in real time to show important alerts, notifications, and activities. With the introduction of the Dynamic Island, the TrueDepth camera has been redesigned to take up less of the display area.”

Apple continued, “Without impeding content on the screen, the Dynamic Island maintains an active state to allow users easier access to controls with a simple tap-and-hold. Ongoing background activities like Maps, Music, or a timer remain visible and interactive, and third-party apps in iOS 16 that provide information like sports scores and ride-sharing with Live Activities can take advantage of the Dynamic Island.”

The iPhone 14 Pro camera system added a 2x camera (in addition to the 0.5x, 1x, and 3x options on the iPhone 13 Pro). The iPhone 14 Pro also offered a new “48MP Main camera with a quad-pixel sensor that adapts to the photo being captured, and features second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilization.”

Other new camera features included a front TrueDepth camera with an ƒ/1.9 aperture for better low-light photos and video, adaptive True Tone flash with an array of nine LEDs, and Action mode for “incredibly smooth-looking video that adjusts to significant shakes, motion, and vibrations, even when video is being captured.”

All iPhone 14 models added Crash Detection that used a variety of built-in sensors (dual-core accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, GPS, and microphone) to “detect a severe car crash and automatically dial emergency services when a user is unconscious or unable to reach their iPhone.” Additionally, Emergency SOS via satellite was added, “which combines custom components…to allow antennas to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage.”

The iPhone 14 Pro models are powered by the A16 Bionic chip that includes two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, an accelerated 5-core GPU with 50% more memory bandwidth, and a new 16-core Neural Engine capable of nearly 17 trillion operations per second.

Many of the new features of the iPhone 14 Pro were enabled by iOS 16, released along with the entire iPhone 14 line.

This iPhone 14 Pro example is Deep Purple.

Sources: Apple (iPhone 14 Pro, Newsroom)

Apple Watch SE (44mm, Abyss Blue Sport Band, 2020)

The Apple Watch SE was announced on September 15, 2020, as an entry-level Apple Watch that lacked some of the features of the Series 6. According to Apple, the Apple Watch SE offered:

“Powerful features to help keep you connected, active, healthy, and safe. Advanced sensors to track all the ways you move and to measure your favorite workouts. And available cellular so you can go without your phone. Apple Watch SE is a lot of watch for a lot less than you expected.”

The Apple Watch SE shared several features with the Apple Watch Series 6, including, “the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and always-on altimeter…and with the latest motion sensors and microphone, it offers robust health and safety capabilities including fall detection, Emergency SOS, international emergency calling, and the Noise app.”

Because the Apple Watch SE replaced the Apple Watch 3, the previous entry-level Apple Watch of the time, several comparisons were offered:

“Apple Watch SE features a stunning Retina display, with thin borders and curved corners, that is 30 percent larger than Series 3… With the S5 System in Package (SiP) and dual-core processor, Apple Watch SE delivers incredibly fast performance, up to two times faster than Apple Watch Series 3.”

The Apple Watch SE lacked ECG (electrocardiogram) and Blood Oxygen sensors, and it did not use an always-on display watch face.

This 44mm example is the GPS model (without cellular), has a silver aluminum case, and shipped with an Abyss Blue (dark blue) Sport Band.

Sources: Apple (product page, Newsroom)

Apple PlainTalk Microphone (platinum, unopened)

This is the second version of the PlainTalk Microphone produced by Apple. The first version was round. This model has a unique curvy shape with a flat bottom with a lip to allow it to sit flat on top of a computer display. This microphone was compatible with desktop Power Mac models up to and including G3 iMac models. It measures 50 x 25 x 60 mm.

The microphone is powered by an internal amplifier that receives its power from its elongated tip of its 3.5 mm jack plug. The extra-long tip makes this connection proprietary.

The microphone is omnidirectional, but records only in mono.

Source: Radio Museum

iPhone Stereo Headset (bulk packaging, 2007)

The iPhone Stereo Headset were the headphones that shipped with the first two iPhone models, the original iPhone (2007–2008) and the iPhone 3G (2008–2010). The headphones used a similar enclosed design as the later EarPods, and the right earbud included a control button with a microphone on the wire. The button is controlled by a squeeze and it can be set for a variety of tasks: answer/end calls, advance presentation slides, play/pause music/video, or capture photos. A double-press also allowed the user to skip to the next music track.

Note that the controller did not include the + and – option for volume and/or other controls, a feature now taken for granted in many headphone designs.

iLounge described these headphones as, “familiar and inexpensive, with very good earbud and microphone quality.” They also praised the bass response, warm sound, and the quality of the microphone.

This example is in Apple’s bulk packaging. I remember receiving the headphones when I attended an Apple Education professional development opportunity that required attendees to have a microphone. These were never unpackaged because I had brought and used my personal headphones.

Sources: Wikipedia, iLounge

EarPods (with 3.5 mm Headphone Plug, 2012)

The EarPods design replaced a previous Apple headphone design with a circular earphone design. The product description states that, “Unlike traditional, circular earbuds, the design of the EarPods is defined by the geometry of the ear. Which makes them more comfortable for more people than any other earbud-style headphones.”

EarPods also included a remote and microphone on the right EarPod wire. The remote allowed the user to pinch the thickened cord to control volume, play/pause music and video, and answer or end a call.

The same wired EarPod design was used in the EarPods with Lightning Connector product when Apple removed the audio connector from the iPhone. Both the 3.5 mm Headphone Plug and Lightning Connector options were sold at the same time since both ports were still used in Apple products.

This product was sold in a variety of packaging. This is the same packaging that shipped inside iPhone models and also available as OEM replacement parts from some online retailers.


Apple PlainTalk Microphone (transparent, unopened, 1999)

This was Apple’s second PlainTalk Microphone product. This version was introduced with the AV models of the Macintosh Quadra series in 1993 and sold separately. This microphone was designed to be placed on the top of a CRT screen. The long connector was used to power the microphone.

This version of the Apple Plaintalk Microphone was cast in transparent plastic to match the G3 Blue & White tower. This microphone was included with a G3 Blue & White tower and was never opened.

The following Macs supported the PlainTalk Microphone according to Apple: Quadra 605,630,660,840; Centris 660; LC 475, 605, 520, 550, 575, 580, 630; Performa 475, 476, 520, 550, 560, 575, 577, 578, 580, 588, 630, 631, 635, 636, 637, 638, 640, 5200, 5210, 5115, 5220, 5260, 5270, 5280, 5300, 5320, 5400, 5410, 5420, 5430, 5440, 6110, 6112, 6115, 6116, 6117, 6118, 6200, 6205, 6210, 6214, 6216, 6218, 6220, 6230, 6260, 6290, 6300, 6310, 6320, 6360, 6400, 6410, 6420; Network Server 500, 700; Workgroup Server 6150, 7250, 7350, 8150, 8550, 9650; G3 Server 233, 266; G4 Server 500MHz; PowerMac 4400, 5200, 5260, 5300, 5400, 5500, 6100, 6200, 6300, 6400, 6500, 7100, 7200, 7215, 7220, 7300, 7500, 7600, 8100, 8115, 8200, 8500, 8515, 8600, 9500, 9515, 9600; PowerMac G3 Beige Desktop & Mini Tower, G3 Blue & White; Twentieth Anniversary Mac; iMac G3; and PowerMac G4 PCI, AGP, GE.


Microphone (1990)

The Apple Microphone shipped with Macintosh LC computers and could be purchased separately. The package included a microphone and a holder with a self-adhesive back. The Microphone was an omnidirectional condenser microphone with a frequency range of 100 Hz to 10 KHz. The cable terminated in a 3.5 mm stereo plug.

The Microphone is known as a PlainTalk Microphone. The following Macs support the PlainTalk Microphone according to Apple: Quadra 605,630,660,840; Centris 660; LC 475, 605, 520, 550, 575, 580, 630; Performa 475, 476, 520, 550, 560, 575, 577, 578, 580, 588, 630, 631, 635, 636, 637, 638, 640, 5200, 5210, 5115, 5220, 5260, 5270, 5280, 5300, 5320, 5400, 5410, 5420, 5430, 5440, 6110, 6112, 6115, 6116, 6117, 6118, 6200, 6205, 6210, 6214, 6216, 6218, 6220, 6230, 6260, 6290, 6300, 6310, 6320, 6360, 6400, 6410, 6420; Network Server 500, 700; Workgroup Server 6150, 7250, 7350, 8150, 8550, 9650; G3 Server 233, 266; G4 Server 500MHz; PowerMac 4400, 5200, 5260, 5300, 5400, 5500, 6100, 6200, 6300, 6400, 6500, 7100, 7200, 7215, 7220, 7300, 7500, 7600, 8100, 8115, 8200, 8500, 8515, 8600, 9500, 9515, 9600; PowerMac G3 Beige Desktop & Mini Tower, G3 Blue & White; Twentieth Anniversary Mac; iMac G3; and PowerMac G4 PCI, AGP, GE.

I have two different versions of the packaging for these microphones. The white box is from 1990 and the brown cardboard box version is from 1991. The part number on the box is 699-5103-A.


HomePod (white, 2017)

Apple described the HomePod a “breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers amazing audio quality.” HomePod can be controlled using Siri, “with an array of six microphones…users can interact with it from across the room, even while loud music is playing.”

HomePod’s features include an upward-facing woofer, a custom A8 chip, seven beam-forming tweeters (each with an independent amplifier), automatic room-sensing technology to optimize sound, and a six-microphone array with advanced echo cancellation. When Siri is in use, a multicolor waveform appears on the top of the HomePod using a round 272×340 display. In addition, touch controls are also available on the top of the HomePod.

The HomePod was available in white and space gray. Inside, the HomePod was powered by a 1.4 GHz Apple A8 processor and used 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0.

The device runs an operating system that Apple refers to as audioOS (based upon iOS). The audioOS is specifically designed for the HomePod to play audio, run Siri, and control the custom round screen.

When the HomePod was announced in February 2018, multi-speaker support was demonstrated, but the feature was not released until September 2018 along with AirPlay 2. The September 2018 update also added support for multiple timers, Find my Phone, Siri short-cuts, phone calls (while in proximity to iPhone), and music search by lyrics.

I am a fan of the HomePod. I use two in my living room as my primary way of accessing Apple Music and controlling smart home devices. I also added a single HomePod to my bedroom.