Starting today, Apple Watch Ultra owners can download the tech giant’s new diving app Oceanic Plus to turn its newest wearable into a recreational dive computer.
The Watch Ultra already has the Depth app, which can tell you the depth and the temperature of the water. Oceanic Plus displays the same information, but if you want to take diving more seriously, you’ll need something more. The app houses a no-decompression timer to set limits on how deep you can dive and for how long so users don’t suffer from decompression sickness. Its user interface (UI) displays brightly color-coded indicators to let you know when it's okay to dive deeper, stop, or slow down. It appears the UI was a key focus for the developers as typical dive computers can be tough to understand, especially for newcomers.
Planning out dives
Present on the app is a dive planner where you can see what conditions, such as the tide and currents, are like for the day. You can also create a surface time for when you have to return. Once you hop out of the water, you will be given a brief post-dive summary report displaying how far you dove, among other things. For a more in-depth report, you can download the iPhone version to tell you the exact speed at which you dove and even record any local wildlife you might have seen. Some reports do claim the iPhone app “needs a little bit of work” due to some “graphic inconsistencies” like text misalignments.
Notifications from the planner are sent via vibrations powerful enough to penetrate wetsuits 7mm (around 0.27 inches) thick. According to the announcement, haptic feedback was chosen because sound propagates more underwater. If you’re diving with someone who has a dive computer that beeps, it can be difficult to determine where a sound notification is coming from. Oceanic Plus also reconfigures the Action button so the app can be used even if you have a wetsuit on. Pressing the button before diving launches Oceanic Plus into a predive screen. Pressing mid-dive marks your location.
Before downloading the app, you need to make sure your Watch Ultra is running watchOS9.1 and it’s paired up with an iPhone 8 or later. You can, however, use a second-generation iPhone SE or later with iOS 16.1 installed. Oceanic Plus is free, but for $9.99 a month, new features can be added like “decompression tracking [and] location planner…” The base app has “common dive functions” such as a timer and depth indicator.
It’s important to reiterate that Oceanic Plus is more for recreational diving. The app only works up to 40 meters (130 feet) underwater. Also, it can’t keep track of a scuba tank's oxygen level as other diving computers can.
We highly doubt Oceanic Plus will see release on other Apple device as it was specially made for the the Watch Ultra. In fact, the device is WR100 and EN 13319 certified. The former means the Watch Device can survive depths to 100 meters (although Apple recommends don’t go more than 40) while the latter means it’s “internationally recognized” as a diving accessory.
With an $800 price tag, the Watch Ultra can be more expensive than typical dive computers which can range from a couple of hundred dollars up to $1500, according to our research. But given the Watch Ultra’s utility and more friendly UI, Oceanic Plus could possibly set a new standard for recreational divers.
If you’re in the market for a new wearable device, be sure to check out TechRadar’s recently updated top 10 smartwatch list.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.