Until a few decades ago, many certified divers still wrote down their dive tables with pen and paper. Handwritten algorithms tracked depth and time, ensuring these underwater explorers knew how to dive — and surface — safely.
The advent of dive computers in the late 1980s made such calculations unnecessary, and soon the majority of divers around the world had the “unattractive, chunky gray case” strapped to their wrists, Dive Magazine wrote.
Now divers can get all of these features from the Apple Watch Ultra.
On Nov. 28, Apple launched the Oceanic+ app and claims it turns the tech company’s powerful watch into a “fully capable and easy-to-use dive computer,” the press release said.
Apple worked with Huish Outdoors to design the app for its new Watch, which was discontinued this year. The Apple Watch Ultra already comes with a depth gauge and water temperature sensors, and remains waterproof up to 40 meters.
By pairing it with the Oceanic+ app, users benefit from advanced features, such as dive planning and a complete post-dive experience.
“There is now a companion that communicates clear and timely information to divers,” said Andrea Silvestri, vice president of product development and design at Huish Outdoors, in the press release.
Silvestri, who spearheaded the creation of the Oceanic+ app, said “there has never been anything like this in scuba diving before”.
Design and features of the Oceanic+ app
After extensive testing, Silvestri said the Apple Watch Ultra was as intuitive as a dive computer. This makes it easier to focus on the experience instead of clicking complicated buttons or doing mental calculations.
Apple Watch Ultra is certified to WR100 and EN 13319, an internationally recognized standard for diving accessories, including depth gauges, the company said. Apple also clarified that its screen remains bright and visible in water.
Wearers can customize the watch’s Action button to launch the Oceanic+ app on the pre-dive screen. During a dive, pressing the Action button will mark a compass bearing. In the app’s dive planner, users can set surface time, depth and gas. Then the app calculates their no-decompression (no-decompression) time – a metric used to determine a time limit for a diver at a certain depth.
A long list of functions continues from there. According to Apple, the dive planner shows dive conditions, such as tides and water temperature. It also gives up-to-date information from external sources, including visibility and currents. Once the dive is over, users can view a collection of data about their experience, from a map with GPS entry and exit locations to other graphs of depth and temperature changes.
Silvestri highlighted the app’s haptic feedback, which uses vibrations to “tap” users on the wrist to send notifications.
“We made the experience very personal,” he said. “It’s like a little nudge to guide you.”
Oceanic+ app: price and availability
Interested in trying the app? It is available for download on the App Store.
However, you’ll need an $800 Apple Watch Ultra first, though, if you don’t already have one. It should also work on watchOS 9.1 paired with some iPhones (not older than iPhone 8, for example).
The app’s basic functions, such as depth and time, are free. But for the more serious ones – decompression tracking, tissue loading, location planner and unlimited logbook capacity – you’ll have to pay a subscription.
It will cost you US$10 per month, or annually for $80 per year.