The Apple Watch was destined to be a disappointment when it launched in 2015. Many prophesied that it’d usher in a golden age of wearables, much like the iPhone did for smartphones. But that didn’t really happen. Maybe the Apple Watch Series 2 can change the narrative.
To kick things off, Tim Cook spent tons of time lauding Apple’s first try at the smartwatch, and Apple’s Jeff Williams walked through watchOS 3 updates revealed at WWDC earlier in June, including that dubiously scientific Breathe app.
Next up was app developer Niantic, which announced that its hit game Pokémon Go would be coming to the Apple Watch. However, this isn’t just a port of the mobile game to the watch, which would suck horribly. Instead, the watch works with your iPhone to incorporate the step counter seamlessly, so you don’t have to keep the app open.
Then, finally, came the new hardware. The Apple Watch Series 2 is completely “swimproof” with water resistance up to fifty meters. Apple redesigned the speaker system to help eject water from the watch after you take a plunge.
On the more geeky specs side of things, Apple introduced a 50-precent faster processor along with better graphics. It also comes with the brightest display Apple has ever made. It’s 1000 nits, which is really, really bright. For a comparison, most displays don’t go much further than 400 nits.
But Apple Watch: Part Deux’s marquee feature is GPS, which helps make the Apple Watch somewhat less dependent on your iPhone—at least for maps and fitness apps. During today’s presentation, Apple spent quite a bit of time on a new fancy hiking app that’s only possible with Apple Watch’s new GPS abilities. But all of this is hardly new—many Android Wear smartwatches have GPS already.
With a brighter display and added GPS, Apple hasn’t yet made any mention about upgrades to the Apple Watch’s battery, though previous rumors have said that the new Watch comes with a 35 percent bigger battery. However, with GPS added, it may all come out about equal.
Aside from new sensors, Apple also introduced a new ceramic model—it’s most durable model—as well as a Nike specific model that’s being marketed for all the runners in the world (of which I am not one).
Apple Watch Series 2 will start at $370. The original Apple Watch, now called Series 1, will stay and come with the new processor. It starts at $270. Series 2 goes on sale September 16 while the Nike watch will arrive in October.