Apple event 2020 recap: Apple Watch 6, iPad 8, iPad Air 4 and everything you missed

Apple Watch Series 6
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's Time Flies Sept. 15 event is in the books, revealing what's next for the iPad and Apple Watch. The event was spearheaded by the Apple Watch 6, which delivers an improved display and blood oxygen monitoring, as well as the iPad Air 4, which brings big A14 power and a totally revamped design to the thin tablet series.

But there's much more than that for Apple fans to look forward to, including the affordable Apple Watch SE and the long-awaited iPad 8. Here's everything you missed from today's Apple event; be sure to also check out our archived live blog below for our reactions to every big announcement.

Biggest Apple event announcements

  • Apple Watch 6: The new flagship Apple watch delivers blood oxygen monitoring, an improved display and tons of new color and band options for $399.
  • Apple Watch SE: Starting at just $279, this affordable Apple Watch promises twice the power of the Apple Watch 3. Check out our Apple Watch 6 vs Apple Watch SE comparison to see how the two stack up.
  • iPad Air 4: Apple's most advanced iPad Air yet, this tablet offers blazing A14 speeds and a seamless Liquid Retina display with fun color options for $599.
  • iPad 8: The newest version of Apple's most popular tablet just got even more powerful thanks to its new A12 processor. Read our iPad 8 vs. iPad Air 4 comparison to see how the two tablets compare. 
  • Apple Fitness Plus: This new fitness service allows you to enjoy a variety of workouts on any screen and see real-time metrics via your Apple Watch starting at $10 per month.
  • Apple One: This subscription package bundles together Apple services such as Apple Arcade, Apple TV Plus, Apple Music and iCloud starting at $15 per month.
  • What about the iPhone 12? Apple didn't show off any new phones at this event — that'll be happening at a separate showcase in October. But iPhone owners can look forward to iOS 14 releasing tomorrow, as well as iPadOS 14, tvOS 14 and watchOS 7.

Apple Event live blog

All times ET - refresh for updates

2:02 pm: Back to Tim to take us home. There might not be new iPhones, but iOS 14 is still dropping tomorrow, as are iPadOS 14, watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. 

Even with no new iPhones, this was probably one of my favorite Apple events in a while. Straight and to the point, just an hour long and slickly produced with some nice segways, this virtual showcase felt mercifully compact compared to the sometimes sprawling stage shows we've seen in the past. While the global pandemic has forced these kinds of things to happen, I can see pre-recorded shows being the norm even when things are back to "normal."

1:57 pm: Another rumor confirmed -- iPad Air 4 will use USB-C! It's about time. You'll also get a 12MP camera in the back that can shoot 4K video with improved stabilization. You can also expect Wi-Fi 6 support and 10 hours of battery life. The tablet starts at $599, and will be available next month. Looks like those rumors about the price bump were true.

1:48 pm: Time for the main event: iPad Air 4. Just like the leaks suggested, the iPad Air 4 looks a lot like the iPad Pro, but comes in a variety of fun colors including sky blue, green, rose gold and silver. The bezels are way slimmer than before, and you'll get a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with 3.8 million pixels. More colorful gadgets seems like a big theme of this show, and I'm all for it.

You'll get Touch ID built into the home button, which allows the bezels to remain slim even without Face ID. And the tablet packs the blazing A14 Bionic chip, which has a 5nm process to deliver big power in a compact design. You can expect 40 percent better performance over the iPad Air, and 30 percent faster graphics. Apple says the iPad Air 4 has twice the graphics performance of a top selling Windows laptop.

This chip will almost certainly power the upcoming iPhone 12, which means you can expect Apple's next flagship to again be among the speediest in its class. We're now getting a montage of how the iPad Air 4 will handle apps such as AAA games and photo tools like Pixelmator like a pro.

1:40 pm: Here we go — get ready for new iPads. Cook reminds us that it's the iPad's 10th anniversary, and that 500 million iPads have been sold around the world. 

First up is the iPad 8. After a flashy zoom to Ted Merendino from the iPad team, we're getting a recap of why the 10.2-inch iPad is Apple's most popular. The new iPad 8 is getting upgraded with the A12 Bionic processor, which Apple says is up to two times faster the top selling Windows laptop and six times faster than the top selling Chromebook. The iPad 8 will work with a variety of keyboards in addition to Apple Pencil, though a few of us in the office are bummed that there's no Pencil 2 support. You can pick it up this Friday for $329, or $299 for education users.

1:38 pm: It's Apple One time. As previously reported, Apple One packs iCloud, Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, Apple News Plus and Apple Fitness Plus into a single monthly service. 

The individual plan starts at $15 a month for Music, TV Plus, Arcade and iCloud, with $20 for a family plan. If you want more, the Premier package adds in Apple Fitness Plus, News Plus and 2TB of iCloud storage for $29 per month. As an Arcade user that's always running out of iCloud storage, I just might give that starting plan a shot.

Apple One price and cost

(Image credit: Apple)

1:30 pm: Now for an update on some Apple Watch software. The company just revealed Fitness+, a workout service designed specifically for Apple Watch. You can use the service on just about any screen, and get real-time on-screen metrics via your Apple Watch as you follow a workout of your choice while jamming out to Apple Music tunes. 

You'll have a variety of workout options such as cycling, running, yoga and core strength, and can see stats such as time, heart rate and calories burned on screen thanks to your Apple Watch. Between this and products like Nintendo's Ring Fit Adventure, working out from home is becoming more and more viable. 

Fitness+ will be $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year and will drop by the end of 2020. You'll also get 3 months free with an Apple Watch purchase. If only there were some all-in-one services bundle that could get people to try this out...

(Image credit: Apple)

1:27 pm: Apple is talking about its steps to help with environmental sustainability, and just dropped the bomb many of us all saw coming -- no more USB power adapter in the box for new Apple Watches. That all but confirms speculation that the iPhone 12 will also ship without a charger. 

Now for a cheeky commercial that shows off just how much the Apple Watch can do, with a series of Apple Watch owners saying "it already does that" as the narrator rattles off a list of futuristic features. I laughed a bit. 

1:25 pm: And here we go: Apple Watch SE is official! It packs the same big display as the Apple Watch 6, complete with an S5 chip for twice the performance as the Series 3. You'll also get key feature like fall detection and Face Sharing. The watch starts at $279, and Apple Card users can finance it for as low as $12 per month.

The Series 6 starts at $399, while the Series 3 will stick around as the cheapest option at $199. That leaves the SE at an interesting middle ground, and several of us in the Tom's Guide office are already wondering just who exactly this watch is for.

apple watch se

(Image credit: Apple)

1:22 pm: A new Family Setup feature lets parents get location notifications when they're children are wearing Apple Watches, while younger users can create Memojis right from their watches. There's also a school mode that eliminates distractions.

1:20 pm: Now here's something new. The Apple Watch 6 will offer a solo loop band, which is a continues rubber watch band that looks ideal for swimming and running. There's also a braided fabric option, as well as a fresh take on the leather band with new colors. Bottom line -- if you're getting a new Apple Watch, you'll have a ton of ways to personalize it to your liking.

Apple Watch Series 6 bands

(Image credit: Apple)

1:17 pm: Let's talk some specs. You're getting a S6 processor with better performance, a brighter always-on display, and an always-on altimeter for checking your altitude on hikes. 

Also: new watch faces! You can look forward to new typograph faces, and a variety of more artistic ones. Memoji faces will let you use your animated mug as a watch face, while new striped faces allow for greater representation for LGBTQIA+ groups. Pretty cool stuff.

1:15 pm: Apple is going over its plans to invest in health research, with partnerships with companies such as the University of California, Irvine and the UW School of Medicine to explore how changes in blood oxygen can indicate a variety of conditions, including those related to Covid-19.

1:13 pm: Time for a dramatic pan over to COO Jeff Williams to talk more about Apple Watch. We're talking watchOS 7 features, including the software's ability to measure VO2 Max to better asses users' overall health. But we're really here for the big reveal: Apple Watch Series 6.

The new watch is dubbed "the most colorful Apple Watch ever," with chassis options that include stunning dark blue and cherry red. And the rumors were true -- blood oxygen (SpO2) tracking is finally here. The sensor uses infrared lights to measure your blood oxygen in seconds, and can make measurements while you sleep.

(Image credit: Apple)

1:05 pm: It looks like Apple Watch is kicking things off. Cook is talking about how Apple Watch goes beyond just telling time, and is instead a seamless gateway to a variety of apps and services. We're also getting anecdotes about how the Apple Watch has saved lives, which is a common theme during Watch events.

We're hearing the stories of several Apple Watch users, including Kate, an aspiring olympian with type 1 diabetes. YJ has high blood pressure and hypertension, and started using Apple Watch to take better control of his health to the point where he no longer needs medication. James was alerted to a high heart rate by his Apple Watch at just 26, which gave him time to get to the hospital to get treated. The bottom line is that Apple Watch continues to change and save lives, and Apple continues to go all in on health.

1:03 pm: We're now getting a cinematic flyover of Apple Park, similar to what we got during WWDC. And here comes Tim Cook to introduce the show (I stand by the fact that product events are better & tighter as pre-recorded virtual events).

Cook is going over the usual talking points — supporting people working from home, innovating, etc. And we have confirmation: This event is all about Apple Watch and iPad

1 pm: The Apple stream is now live! We're seeing the same morphing Apple Watch logo from the Time Flies invite while some chill music plays in the background. Not gonna lie, I kind of miss watching members of the press fill into Steve Jobs theater while top 40 radio plays during the pre-show.

12:50 pm: 🤔

12:45 pm: Okay, last-minute predictions time. Our editor Henry T. Casey predicts a $249 iPad (possibly called the iPad SE). I personally think Apple One will get some decent time on stage, complete with some major new content announcements from Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade.

"The iPad Air will be the most popular 'computer' this holiday season. A14 fast, supports Magic Keyboard and modern design for affordable price," says our editorial director Mark Spoonauer. 

Also, apropos of nothing, but can Super Mario Run get a sequel already?

12:28 pm: While we probably won't see the iPhone 12 today, we will get a preview of its power. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman claims that the new iPad will be Apple's first with the A14 processor, which will likely also come to the new iPhones.

12:09 pm: Not everyone is jazzed about the Apple Watch SE's potential price, including our editorial director Mark Spoonauer.

11:36 am: The event is less than 90 minutes away, and excitement and speculation is reaching a fever pitch online. Our office assistant Marie isn't very enthused though.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

11:20 am: In other Jon Prosser related news... (is it bad that I kind of hope this happens?)

11:00 am: And it looks like we have a price for the Apple Watch SE, thanks to frequent leaker Jon Prosser. Like we said before, don't expect new iPhones (or the AirPods Studio). A $279 Apple Watch is compelling, but how much better will it be than the $199 Apple Watch 3?

10:45 am: The last-minute leaks keep on coming, as the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE were both spotted on B&H's website. Meanwhile, Investment bank Wedbush expects these new products to serve as the "drumroll" for Apple's October iPhone event.

10:30 am: Despite fervent rumors and anticipation around the iPhone 12 making an appearance at today's event, you should keep your expectations in check. Here's why.

9:30 am: With only a few hours to go until the big show, here's what the folks around the virtual Tom's Guide office are hoping to see.

Kate Kozuch, staff writer: "Let's get these new Apple Watches. The Apple Watch SE is gonna totally shake up the cheap smartwatch category."

Henry T Casey, editor: "Make Amazon scared. The Fire Tablets need a real competitor from Apple." 

Kate: "Actually take that back, let's see a new a Homepod!"

Marshall Honorof, editor: "Could they at least mention how Apple TV+ is doing? either to announce a worthwhile show or just to reassure people that it still exists."

Kelly Woo, staff writer: "I’m curious how much the Apple One bundle is. If it’s cheap enough, I could be tempted to extend my Apple TV+ trial."

I'm personally hoping for some updates around Apple Arcade, especially if the service is becoming part of Apple One. Arcade has seen some great releases lately including Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time and The Last Campfire, but what's the killer app that will get new players to subscribe?

8:51 am: While the Apple Watch 6 and iPad Air 4 are garnering a lot of headlines, the Apple Watch SE could be the most exciting reveal of the whole show. Here's our breakdown of the watch's leaked specs, which point to an Apple Watch 5-style device with similar internals and a lower price. That sounds a whole lot like the iPhone SE we got this year, and we're totally on board.

8:31 am: Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has chimed in to set some last-minute expectations for the Apple Watch 6. If you're expecting a massive revamp, you might be let down. .

8:05 am: Now this is neat. Tweets with the #AppleEvent hashtag have a custom Apple Watch heart animation when you click the like button. Try it out on the tweet below.

8:00 am: Like clockwork, the Apple Store is down for maintenance. This typically happens during event days and signals the arrival of new products.

(Image credit: Apple)

7:40 am: It just wouldn't be an Apple Event without a flurry of last-minute leaks. One of those came from veteran tipster Evan Blass, who seemingly confirmed the specs of the iPad Air 4, iPad 8, Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE.

7:20 am: Here's a quick rundown of what to expect today:

Apple Watch 6: Apple's new flagship watch is expected to bring blood oxygen monitoring (SpO2) into the mix, as well as sleep tracking via watchOS 7.

Apple Watch SE: A lower-cost Apple Watch that could borrow the Apple Watch 5's key features while coming in at a more affordable price.

iPad Air 4: A new iPad Air with an iPad Pro-like design and a snappy A14 processor with USB C.

iPad 8: A sequel to Apple's most popular iPad with A12X power.

7:00 am: We're all seated for the big show! Turns out it's a lot easier to find a spot for a virtual event.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.