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Technology

Apple and Singapore to reward health-monitoring smartwatch users

New gadget gauges blood oxygen, but 5G iPhone still no-show

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the company's first all-virtual fall product launch event on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Apple) 

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Apple announced a series of new hardware and software at its fall launch event on Tuesday, though its mainstay product -- the next-generation iPhone -- was missing as the development and manufacturing of the handset was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

But there was plenty of new offerings at what has become an annual rite of the season for techies around the world. Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the event by introducing the new Apple Watch Series 6 and a partnership with Singapore.

"This fall, Singapore will become the first country to leverage the benefits of Apple Watch by offering incentives for people to use it to stay healthy and active," Cook said.

The initiative by Apple and Singaporean government, named LumiHealth, is a two-year program aimed to encourage healthy activity and behaviors using any series Apple Watch. Starting next month, Singaporeans and residents will be able to download the LumiHealth app and complete weekly activity goals.

Participants can earn up to 380 Singaporean dollars ($278) in rewards over the two-year duration of the program by completing goals. An Apple Watch is necessary to participate in the program, as is downloading the LumiHealth app from the App Store, according to the announcement.

"Even as all of us around the world are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, we must keep investing in our future. And there is no better investment than in our own personal health," said Heng Swee Keat, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister in a statement. "This partnership between Singapore and Apple will enable Singaporeans to lead healthier lives, but equally important, it will contribute valuable insights to improving the health of people all over the world."

The Tuesday event was livestreamed from Apple's headquarters in California and was the company's first all-virtual fall product launch. This high-profile event was usually reserved for the company to unveil its next-generation iPhones.

However, due to COVID-19's disruption on Apple's design process and supply chain, the highly anticipated first 5G iPhone was missing from this year's event and is expected to be unveiled later this year. The company started initial production of its 5G iPhones this month, narrowing the production delay to just weeks instead of months, the Nikkei Asian Review previously reported.

Meanwhile, the company unveiled the Watch Series 6, which has the ability to monitor blood oxygen levels and starts at $399. A budget version of the gadget, Apple Watch SE, was also launched and starts at $279. Along with the smartwatch, the company introduced a new subscription service called Apple Fitness+, which provides guided personalized workout classes for watch users.

Apple also launched the eighth-generation iPad and a new iPad Air on Tuesday, items that have grown in popularity during the pandemic as more people work and study from home.

Meanwhile, the tech giant made another push into the software business by introducing Apple One as it tries to diversify revenue and reduce dependence on the iPhone. Apple One is a subscription bundle that includes Apple Arcade, Apple TV Plus, iCloud, Apple Music, and other services, which will be available to users this fall.

Apple shares were slightly down 1% in midday trading after the launch event.

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