The all-new Apple Watch Ultra isn’t your ordinary smartwatch. It does everything Apple’s other watches can do, but it’s also built to handle harsh conditions and is perfect for adventurists enjoying the great outdoors.
While it probably can’t handle extremely cold environments like Apple is advertising, It’s still a rugged gadget with more life-saving features than you probably realize.
Some of the features mentioned below are available on Apple’s other watches we’ve all seen in commercials, while many are exclusive to the new Ultra. Either way, you’ll want to take advantage of them all. So, here’s every Apple Watch Ultra feature designed to keep you alive.
Crash and Fall Detection
For those unaware, Apple added a new car crash detection feature on all iPhone 14 models, the Apple Watch Series 8, the Apple Watch Ultra, and the second-generation Apple Watch SE. For its watches, like the new Ultra, the company developed an improved 3-axis gyroscope and a high g-force accelerometer sensor. These can detect up to 256g forces that occur in a crash.
Thanks to an advanced “sensor fusion” algorithm built off years of lab tests and real-world results, your Apple Watch Ultra can accurately detect when you’re in a crash. When this happens, the phone can automatically alert emergency response teams if you don’t cancel the alert within 10 seconds. It’ll call 911, share your location, and even contact friends and family on your emergency contact list.
If you’re badly hurt or injured and cannot call for help, this nifty feature could save your life. Additionally, the company already had a similar “fall detection mode” that is still available, and they’re both great.
Emergency Siren (SOS)
The Apple Watch Ultra has an upgraded speaker that can blast a loud emergency siren at nearly 86 decibels, and it’s a great idea. Many hikers have whistles for emergencies, but you won’t need one with the Apple Watch Ultra. If you get injured on a trail, lost, or can’t get out of a hairy situation, this siren could be a lifesaver.
There’s a big new customizable orange “action button” on the side of the Apple Watch Ultra, and if you push and hold it down, it’ll activate the siren.
Apple says its new emergency siren has two unique sound signatures with alternating patterns and can go off for several hours if necessary. There’s a distress mode that’s loud and audible, while another that mimics an SOS. Apple says someone can hear it from over 600 feet away.
And while it doesn’t use the international Alpine Distress Signal for hikers, it’s still an excellent feature we wish every Apple Watch had. This could be helpful in daily life situations, like an assault or robberies, too, making it pretty neat.
Compass Waypoints and Backtrack
For avid backpackers or outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll love the upgraded Compass app in WatchOS 9. While it now features more in-depth information and views on a single screen, you’ll love the Waypoints and Backtrack features.
For one, you can now quickly access the Compass Waypoint feature and drop a pin showing your location. You can add more as you go, showing the direction and distance from the previous spot. These location points could even help emergency services find a lost hiker.
Additionally, using GPS data from the Ultra, owners can use the new Backtrack feature. This creates a chronological path of all the waypoints as you hike, camp, travel, or go off-grid. It happens automatically in the background, too. If you get lost or need to retrace your steps to return to camp or civilization, this will give you step-by-step instructions to make it home safe.
Dual GPS for Improved Location Accuracy
Accurate location information is undoubtedly important, but it’s crucial in an emergency. Whether you’re using the Backtrack feature mentioned above, hiking over a mountain ridge, or need improved location data, the Apple Watch Ultra has you covered thanks to an all-new dual GPS setup.
Apple added dual-frequency GPS that’s better than any Apple Watch yet. It uses both L1 and L5 GPS frequencies and improved positioning algorithms to deliver the most accurate GPS signal of any smartwatch on the market.
As you can probably imagine, this is helpful for various situations, from adventures to emergencies.
The regular Apple Watch comes in a standard Wi-Fi model or one with Wi-Fi + Cellular connectivity. The cellular version basically puts the same connectivity as your phone inside your wrist for making calls, sending a text message, or viewing Apple Maps. If you only have the Wi-Fi model, it can’t do those things unless paired with your phone.
Every Apple Watch Ultra comes with cellular connectivity, meaning it’ll work without being connected to a phone. You can go for a run and still make phone calls or send a text, follow map routes during a bike ride, and much more.
If you get stuck in an emergency and can’t reach your phone, lose it, or the battery dies, you could theoretically use the Apple Watch Ultra to make it out safely. Use the Ultra to call for help, send a text message to a family member, view Backtrack mode, or follow a map to safety even when your phone isn’t available.
Remember that you’ll need to pay for an additional line of cellular service from your carrier for this functionality to work.
Water Depth and Temperature Sensors
The new Apple Watch Ultra is also perfect for water sports or scuba diving. The Ultra can handle depths and temperatures the regular Apple Watch can’t. It has a rating of 100 meters under ISO standard 22810, and it’s even certified for recreational scuba diving (EN 13319), which is pretty neat.
When you go underwater, it’ll automatically open a new Depth app that can show the time, current depths (down to 40 meters), water temperatures, and several other stats. It’s basically an underwater computer.
And while this is more of a novelty feature than anything, showing this automatically instead of a diver having to navigate to this critical information could be helpful in certain situations.
Apple claims the watch can survive in temperatures ranging from negative four degrees to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. So whether you’re diving in deep cold waters or hiking a mountain on a warm summer day, the Ultra is up for the job.
Emergency SOS Call
Similar to Apple’s new emergency siren on the Watch Ultra, all of Apple’s watches have an emergency SOS mode that’s readily available and could potentially save a life. This isn’t exclusive to the new Ultra, but it’s absolutely worth mentioning.
Press and hold the button below the digital crown (how you power off the watch), and you’ll find the emergency SOS option. Drag the SOS slider from left to right, and it’ll immediately make a call, alert your emergency contacts, share location data (if allowed), and more.
Or, if you cannot look at and interact with your watch, push and hold the button endlessly, and after 20 seconds, it’ll automatically call emergency services.
While it’s nothing new, Apple’s Medical ID section in the health app on phones and watches is a hidden gem everyone should take advantage of. In the case of an emergency, where your watch detects a fall or crash, as explained above, or you send an SOS signal, the Medical ID can share important health information about you with first responders.
This information includes your blood type, medical history, medical notes, conditions, allergies, and more. You’ll want to open the Health app on your phone, fill out all the Medical ID cards, and then sync it to your Apple Watch Ultra. From there, you can customize when that information is shown, and it’ll even default the medical ID stats on your watch lock screen in a true emergency.
It might sound like a minor feature that’s not worth filling out, but depending on the situation, it could save your life.
ECG and Heart Monitoring
And finally, we wanted to mention Apple’s continued efforts in health with its heart monitoring and ECG capabilities on the watch. Again, this isn’t new or exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra, but it can keep you alive if it catches an irregular heartbeat or other issues.
The ECG app on your Apple Watch can take an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), similar to what you’d find in a doctor’s office. The ECG app can record your heartbeat and rhythm, then check for atrial fibrillation (AFib) or a high/low heart rate.
Remember that Apple’s ECG app can’t detect heart attacks, but it’s still one aspect of the watch that can have big consequences. You can even share results instantly with your primary physician, which is neat. These watches even have a Blood Oxygen sensor to track health, fitness, and wellness.
According to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, the company specifically designed the Ultra for “exploration, adventure, and endurance.” Then, Apple carefully created helpful features that can take advantage of the design, durability, and technology.
When you combine all that, it’s a capable watch that could potentially keep you alive. Most people will wear the Apple Watch Ultra for regular activities, but for outdoor enthusiasts, it has a slew of benefits you can use and appreciate.
If you like what you’re seeing, grab your own Apple Watch Ultra from the link below.