Not to be outdone by wearables from likes of Asus, Motorola, and even Pebble, Apple has a brand-new smartwatch to beat back the encroaching competition: the Apple Watch Series 2. It may not look all that different from last year’s Apple Watch, but the biggest changes are under the hood.
There’s a new variant of Apple Watch geared specifically toward runners: the Apple Watch Nike+. Nike’s President of Nike Brand Trevor Edwards introduced at Apple’s even in September.
The aesthetics are a bit different than other models of Apple Watch. Most noticeable is a specially perforated band that Apple described as “light,” breathable,” and “lightweight.” And on the software side, the interface is “distraction free” — a shortcut takes you straight to run tracking, and basic metrics like calorie count and steps are a tap away. “It’s just what you need at a glance,” said Edwards. “It’s simple, fun, and easy to use.”
“Motivations” on the Watch Nike+ encourage you to remain active throughout the week, as do regular updates on your friends’ and families’ latest workouts. And there’s an element of peer pressure: Apple and Nike will hold coordinated events involving users around the world. The first, “Just Do It Sundays,” will coordinate a weekly fitness activity.
The Watch Nike+, as you might expect, ties into Nike’s existing Run Club software. It’ll deliver personalized coaching, recommend fitness gear, and provide access to nearby fitness events via the watch.
The Apple Watch Nike+ starts at $370, same as the Series 2, and will debut on October 28.
Waterproof hardware, a powerful new processor, and a super-bright display
You’d be forgiven for mistaking Apple’s new Watch Series 2 for last year’s Watch. It has the same thickness, after all, and the same curvy, rectangular shape. But it’s faster, lighter, and more robust than its predecessor in subtle ways.
The Watch Series 2’s body is entirely waterproof, first off. You can safely submerge it in up to 50 meters of liquid — a feat which Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, called an engineering marvel. Every nook, cranny, and crevice has been hermetically sealed to prevent leakage, and the speaker is specially designed to eject water every time the Watch peeks its face above water.
Apple put those hydrophilic features to good use. The Series 2 can track swimming like the Misfit Shine and some other wearables, but it does so far more precisely. Apple said it analyzed the strokes of more than 700 swimmers for “multiple years” up to “weeks at a time” to build a system that can accurately measure calorie burn, swim laps, and distance in real time. And all the more impressive, Williams said the Watch Series 2’s software learns your habits over time, “tailoring” its measurements to you.
At the heart of the Watch Series 2 is a powerful array of silicon: a cutting-edge processor, a vibrant new display, and a new sensor. It packs what Apple’s dubbed the S2, a cutting-edge processor that comprises dual cores, a GPU that’s twice as powerful as the previous wearable’s chip, and a new display that’s twice as bright as the first Watch’s panel. Williams said the Series 2’s screen is the “brightest that Apple has ever shipped on any product” at 1,000 nits — around the same level as high dynamic range (HDR) televisions.
Apple’s new stunner of a watch also has GPS on board. Just like the global positioning features of Samsung’s Gear S3, the Series 2 can lock onto nearby satellites to track location. In other words, it’s no longer reliant on a phone for location data — which, by extension, means you don’t have to bring an iPhone along if you opt for a quick jog or walk around the neighborhood.
The other pillar of the Watch Series 2 is its software, of course, and it’s a significant one. Apple’s latest is appropriately running Watch OS 3, the newest version of the company’s mobile operating system. It debuted in beta on the Apple Watch earlier this year, but the final version debuting on the Series 2 has a higher level of polish.
Apps now launch nearly instantly, for one. And they update with information in the background — tap on a mail app and it’ll pop open with your newest messages, for example.
Better performance isn’t the only improvement Apple’s made to the Watch’s efficiency. A new launcher dock provides quicker access to apps and games. And swapping watch faces is now as easy as swiping inward from Watch’s bezel.
Messaging is much better now, too. You can quickly reply to texts by tapping twice in quick succession. New animated stickers and full-screen effects allow you to express yourself “more visually.” And you can write custom replies with a scribble, even in Chinese.
That’s not all. There’s activity sharing, which lets you share your fitness goals and achievements with friends, and Breathe, a wellness feature which reminds you to take periodic rests throughout the day. And there’s a built-in safety feature that lets you program an SOS message to be sent in the event of an emergency.
Availability and pricing
Perhaps the Apple Watch’s greatest strength was its wealth of available accessories and configurations, and the Watch Series 2 is no different. It’s available in a wide array of styles, materials, and colors. Stainless steel and aluminum finishes are still available, same as last year’s Watch, plus a new model: ceramic. Of the latter, Williams said it’s four times harder than stainless steel.
If you’ve got the cash, there’s hot collaboration that’s worth your consideration: the Hermès. The luxury accessory maker is debuting two new leather straps alongside the Series 2, one with a single silver buckle ($1,399) and one with a double buckle design ($689).
The old Apple Watch isn’t quite going away. Apple’s packed it with the new dual core processor, reduced the price to $270, and renamed it: It’s now the Watch Series 1.
Article originally published in September. Updated on 10-14-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news that the Nike+ model will debut on October 28.