Apple Watch 8 Ultra Dive Computer
In dramatic fashion, Apple rocked the dive world when it unveiled the Apple Watch Ultra along with two other lesser models (the SE and the Series 8). The Ultra made such a splash because it’s also a dive watch, designed to appeal exclusively to recreational divers.
While there’s plenty to be said about the Watch itself as a rugged, outdoor device (such as some of the best waterproof watches), we’ll leave that to others and stick to the “Apple enters the scuba diving industry” subject.
The crux of the Apple Ultra is that it has the hardware–waterproofing–to dive down to a max depth of 328 feet (100m). But the onboard sensors only have gauges that measure depths down to a maximum of 131 feet (40 meters). That’s the max depth to which recreational divers are certified to descend.
While there is a depth app designed to work for snorkeling and free diving, Apple didn’t develop the software to run the Ultra’s dive sessions. Rather, they turned to Huish Outdoors, owner of Oceanic scuba equipment and producer of dive computers, to develop the diving software.
The result is Oceanic+, an iPhone app for scuba diving, freediving and snorkeling. It’s a comprehensive program that will provide extensive real-time information as well as resources for dive planning and it will package all of the data into a shareable dive logbook.
There’s a caveat to all this though: a subscription is needed to use the Oceanic+ app for scuba diving. In other words, only an Apple Ultra with the Oceanic+ app and subscription is a dive computer. Otherwise, it’s merely a dive watch. No matter what, the depth gauge will work and–we hope–previous waterproofing issues with Apple Watches is a thing of the past.
Apple Watch Subscriptions for Oceanic+
$4.99 per day
$9.99 per month
$79.99 per year
$129.99 per year for a whole family of 5
Obviously, both Apple and Huish are planning and hoping for widespread adoption. The more users there are, the more info will be available to other divers.
On the dive dashboard, water temperature, currents, tides and visibility will be shown to help plan the dive and to provide good info for the brief.
The planner will also make all safety calculations, including max depth, surface time and No Fly Time.
Specifically designed in collaboration with Apple, Oceanic+ will have the following features at a diver’s disposal:
- A variometer to measure and display the level of descent and ascent
- A depth gauge
- Real-time safety stop information
- No Decompression Time
- Decompression stops
- Minutes remaining, time to ascent to surface
- An amazing compass
- Optional Nitrox integration into planning
All of these features are shown on a square screen (the brightest Apple Watch screen yet) with haptic alerts. Additionally, there’s a night viewing mode that comes in handy during night dives.
How the Apple Watch Ultra Works
To function easily, and in typical Apple fashion, the Ultra has simple buttons. Rather it has an “Action” button and a scroll wheel that can be customized to a diver’s needs. In practice, we can see that scrolling through menus or options on the screen and pressing the action button will be sufficient to navigate through Oceanic+ during a dive or, primarily, before and after.
Speaking of post-dive, the dive dashboard will automatically sync with the iPhone.
According to the Huish press release,
This data automatically appears on iPhone users’ devices and can be saved in the Cloud, where Oceanic+ app users can see a summary of their dive profile, sort and search past dives in their logbooks and instantly share their adventures with family and friends, as well as the community.
That makes this a social watch, providing crowd-sourced data much like Paralenz does with its Vaquita camera.
As neither the watch nor the app has been tested by anyone in the industry, all we can do is wait, holding our breaths (despite knowing we should never do this) to see if this is a revolution.
Whether over-the-air updates will add features like wireless air integration remains to be seen. But it adds to the anticipation.
Like us, Garmin will be also paying particular attention. For now, the Mk2 and Descent G1 are sitting atop the Smartwatch dive computer market in terms of performance with Shearwater keeping stride too.
Frequently asked questions
The release date of the Apple Watch 8 Ultra is in September, but the release date of the scuba diving app that turns the Ultra from a dive watch into a dive computer is later in Fall 2022.
There have been some issues with previous Apple watches leaking and getting damaged. The Apple Watch 8 is designed to dive to maximum depths of 131 feet. It has a scuba rating that technically confirms this and its waterproofing. It is, technically, a dive watch. Only with the Oceanic-plus app is it a dive computer.