Though critical reception of the original Apple Watch — released just 18 months ago — varied between unfettered adulation and gripes about real daily utility, the product has flown off the shelves and onto wrists with startling speed. So much so that Apple, within eight months of the watch’s release, rose to be the second-biggest watch manufacturer, by revenue, in the world (behind Rolex). People dig it, whether it’s for the Apple Pay functionality, the health monitoring, or the notifications and messaging aides.
The new version announced today at Apple’s big event in San Francisco jacks up the performance and folds in a slew of new features. The biggest news for Apple Watch Series II is a tossup between GPS and water resistance. Both are very big deals.
Watch Is Now Water Resistant
Making the watch water resistant — all the way to an industry-standard 50 meters — was a challenge, Apple’s Jeff Williams explained during the presentation. This is because of the many ingress points, which had to be closed with special new seals. The speaker was a particular problem in particular, so the company developed a strategy of using the pulsing movement of the speaker to automatically eject water from the device once it’s in clear air. All of this means the watch will be able to be work in pools while splashing around but also by lap-swimmers who hit the pool on a daily basis. Additionally, the new swim app will be able to accurately track swimming distance, calories burned, and stroke efficiency.
GPS Comes to the Wrist
Integrating GPS into the Apple Watch will enable runners and hikers to track their workouts with no laggy boot-up and satellite-acquisition process. Just tap and go. The route-tracking will reflect your varying speeds on a run, and will nudge you back onto the trail if you stray while on a hike. Of course, all this will help in daily life, as well, for walkers and anyone trying to get around with the map.
New Processor, Screen and More
A close third in enhancements is the new dual-core S2 processor, which is 50 percent faster than the processor in the first watch and enables the graphics processor to be twice as fast, permitting enhanced detail and frame rates up to 60 frames per second. The display is also twice as bright (1,000 nits!) so it’ll be crisp and clear even in bright sunlight. There’s a new ceramic case, in white, that’s four times harder than stainless steel, and new Hermes bands, as well.
Nike+ Partners with Apple Watch
Finally, a Nike Plus Run Club special edition, with a flexible, breathable, new band selection and an enhanced interface — you’ll be able to just tell Siri to “start run” and then prioritize the data shown on the face: either distance, pace, or a more data-intensive feed. It’ll also work in motivations if it senses you’re not working hard enough or running frequently enough.
Oh, and There’s OS3 System Upgrades
These enhancements are in addition to the Watch OS3 operating system upgrade announced earlier this year, which brings a new dock for accessing apps, easier changing of watch faces, and handwriting recognition for entering messages. (There’ll also be a new Pokemon Go app, for those obsessed with that particular enthusiasm.)
Only Question: The Battery
What’s unclear about the new watch, however, is how the battery will perform. People have complained about it only lasting one day (up to 18 hours is what Apple advertises), and even though that’s honestly pretty good, given the functionality, the question of whether the new processor or the GPS drains the battery with extra enthusiasm was left un-addressed. One hopes there will be no penalty, but using a GPS for any duration can’t be good for your daily charging needs.
The new Apple Watch Series 1 & 2 is available for preorder on September 9, available in stores on September 16. Apple Watch Series 1 will cost $269 and Apple Watch Series 2 will cost $369.
Also, the Apple Watch Nike+ will be available late October for $369.