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Over the past few years, Apple wearables, including the Apple Watch Series 8, have received a water resistance rating that more or less guarantees their survivability in water down to 164 feet (50 meters). This makes it a great companion for tracking your pool laps or for the occasional scuba dive.
However, until recently, scuba diving with an Apple Watch was a sure way to ensure you return to the surface with an expensive paperweight strapped to your wrist: the hardware is simply not designed to withstand the pressure. on it at recreational diving levels – from 10 to 130 feet.
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But Apple Watch Ultra – yes. The Ultra is designed to survive up to 328 feet (100 meters) underwater. In fact, Apple was so confident in the underwater capabilities of its new watch that it teamed up with one of the biggest names in underwater technology, Oceanic, to turn the $799 wearable into a full-fledged dive computer.
How well does it perform compared to a regular dive computer? Since I’m the most qualified writer on Reviewed, to find out, I decided to… find out.
Why should we listen to you?
Because in addition to writing for Reviewed, I am also a Master Diver Training (MSDT). I have over 20 PADI certifications and at least 600 dives under my weight belt. I have worked as a divemaster in the beautiful blue waters off the coast of Costa Rica and as an instructor on Vancouver Island in Canada, certifying divers in the cold ocean.
I know diving and the equipment needed to dive safely.
What’s all the fuss about Oceanic+?
While the Ultra is rugged enough to be worn deep underwater for long periods of time, it’s not ready for use as a dive computer right out of the box.
To set it up as a dive buddy, you first need to download the Oceanic app, Oceanic+, on your iPhone. The app requires a subscription to get the most out of it. (We’ll talk about this in a moment.) First, I think it’s worth mentioning why the fact that Oceanic is involved in transforming the Apple Watch Ultra into a capable dive computer is of such great importance.
Oceanic has a solid reputation in the diving community with years of experience in manufacturing rugged and reliable dive computers. I currently have two dive computers, both made by Oceanic. My oldest, Veo, is 14 years old. I literally trust them with my life.
My only gripe with the Oceanic dive computers I have is that while they work well underwater, they can be frustrating to use once you’ve surfaced. Downloading the data that the computers record for each of my dives is a clumsy process. The software is less user friendly, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to transfer my dive data from Oceanic devices to my laptop.
The thought that the Oceanic+ app could take care of this chore of automatically transferring dive logs from my Apple Watch Ultra to my iPhone got me excited when I first heard about it.
What we like
Diving equipment must be durable, adjustable and comfortable – a difficult combination at the best of times. The Apple Watch Ultra meets all of these requirements (and it’s a beautiful watch, too). My favorite feature that the Ultra offers is one that perhaps many people may overlook: the Ocean Band Ultra.
The ingenious buckle system of this dive-focused rubber strap allows divers to customize the strap hardware to suit whatever they are wearing while in the water, be it bare skin, a wetsuit for extra warmth, or a drysuit. and underwear. The strap hardware is easily adjustable and stays in place after installation.
Automatic dive logging
For those who struggle to keep proper dive records (important for further learning or demonstrating experience at more difficult dive sites), the Ultra’s auto-recording feature is really appealing. After diving, the last thing I want to do is find my logbook and pen, or fiddle around with cables and laptop to transfer my computer’s data. This time should be reserved for talking about what you saw while you were underwater with your mates.
With the Apple Watch Ultra and the Oceanic+ app, all my test dive data was automatically recorded and stored in the app. After a dive, the watch sends recorded dive data to the Oceanic+ app, such as dive location, dive profile (a graph showing time versus depth), time, ascent rate, maximum depth, and minimum water temperature. If I want to add any comments about a dive or make notes about my gear, like how much weight I used during the dive, all I need is my iPhone.
Integration with weather and tides
In shore diving, having accurate information about the diving conditions determines whether a dive will occur. The app makes planning your dives very easy: it provides you with tide and tide forecasts and the weather in the area where you plan to dive.
While the forecast window provided by the app is small (only covering the next day or so), the information provided by the Oceanic+ app is detailed and as accurate as the data provided by the many weather and tide apps and websites I view. when setting up a shore dive. While I was searching for information about conditions for my dive day or a dive due within the next 24 hours, I felt that the information provided by Ocenaic+ was accurate.
We’ve only just begun
At the time I am writing this review, Oceanic is taking pre-orders for their new smart home. An iPhone case designed to withstand pressure from Oceanic+ seems to be just the beginning of a relationship between Apple and Oceanic.
What we don’t like
Additional fee for the Oceanic+ app
Nobody likes to keep paying for what they have. While the Oceanic+ app is free to download, it contains a range of free features to use while diving, such as depth/max dive depth, dive/activity tracking, a limited log, and the ability to look back at how many total dives you done with the app, you need to purchase a subscription to access the dive computer features.
An Oceanic+ subscription unlocks important must-watch metrics such as decompression information, those 72-hour weather, temperature and tide forecasts I mentioned earlier, dive conditions and tissue stress reports that give the diver an idea of how much nitrogen in the body. in their bodies is an important factor in preventing decompression sickness.
Some divers who have already paid for an Apple Watch Ultra may find this extra expense as nasty as a Portuguese warship’s tentacle stretching over your bare leg. Given that other dive computers, including those made by Oceanic, work great without a subscription, the paid app may turn some divers off.
However, Oceanic tries to pay as little as possible by providing several different levels of service to choose from. At the time of writing this review, the app offered several subscription options. Individuals: $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. For those with up to five divers in a Family Sharing group, an annual subscription is also available for $129.
During testing, Oceanic+ GPS logging accurately captured my two snorkeling sessions, marking the beach entrance on a neat map. However, my shore dive, which I started about two blocks down the road, did not pick up the GPS point, which came as a surprise when I returned to my car to test the dive on my iPhone. I’m assuming this was a technical glitch and not the norm.
I would like to think that, given the interconnected world we live in, there would be a way to share dive log information with other divers – telling others about a great dive site is one of the best ways to build community in our sport – or add photographs for a magazine. But at the time I tested the app, Oceanic+ didn’t have this feature.
However, these last two points will be “pleasant” and not the failures of the Oceanic + application.
Can’t do it alone
The Oceanic+ app clearly states that you are not comfortable using your Apple Watch Ultra as your only computer while diving. He advises you to carry a second device during your underwater adventure, or plan your dive using tables. Although I and most divers I know only carry one computer while diving (relying on sensors attached to my tanks and my buddy computers for backup), I can see where Apple and Oceanic came from. While the Apple Watch Ultra is powerful hardware, it is prone to failure just like any other electronic device. Having a backup for the Ultra, or the ability to use the Ultra as a backup for a dedicated dive computer, adds another layer of security that can help you surface safely in the event of an emergency.
The Oceanic+ app cannot replace your dive computer.
Since both Apple and Oceanic do not recommend using the Apple Watch Ultra and Oceanic+ app as your only dive computer, it would be irresponsible and potentially dangerous for us to disagree.
However, with great weather and tide tracking, automatic log syncing between the Ultra and iPhone, and the dive metrics it provides as soon as you hit the water, using one of these in addition to the capabilities of your existing dive computer is an absolute must. victory. . (Besides, it’s also an amazing smart watch on top.)
If you’re a diver who already owns an Ultra or are thinking about buying one, adding the Oceanic+ app to your digital toolbox, even if you have to pay for a subscription, will likely make you happy.
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