The Apple Watch is in version 2.0, while the software is in 3.0. This clearly indicates that even Apple wasn’t completely sure how a smartwatch could add value to your life. But they are learning fast, and so are we, as consumers.
Buying a smartwatch has always been about either fitness or about making a tech statement. Sure, a lot of them prance around wanting to be fashionistas, but who are we kidding here, really? The world doesn’t need another fashion watch with a notification bar. What the world needs is a watch that can bridge the gaps between a novelty product, a fitness band and a ‘smart-looking’ watch. In many ways, the Apple Watch 2 addresses all those concerns. It’s perhaps the single biggest version 2.0 launch of any Apple product in recent years, and coupled with Watch OS3, shows how and where it can add real value by being your wrist’s best friend.
Apple Watch Series 2 Design: Beauty from within
The Watch Series 2 looks exactly the same as the Watch, and that’s a good thing since the plethora of bands and bracelets that are out there can easily be swapped or bought without worrying about compatibility.
What isn’t visible immediately is that the new Watch is actually thicker by a millimetre to accommodate for a larger battery and its waterproof innards. It’s a difference you will not ever feel on your petite wrists. In fact, the Apple Watch remains the most comfortable smartwatch out there in any band form - sport or otherwise. Its light weight and perfect amount of tautness allow it to monitor heart rates accurately without ever making you feel held down by a stern nurse. Apple’s own offerings of bands are ever-growing and may well be the best option if you do want a smartwatch for every occasion.
If you want to really make a statement when you’re not near your Bentley, there are the Hermes and Ceramic Editions (₹1,10,900) which look appropriately expensive and exclusive at the same time. They aren’t as versatile though, mind you.
Then there is the Nike+ edition (₹32,900) which I tried out for a few minutes before being politely asked to hand back until its official launch later this month. It too has a supremely snug fit with the added breathability of perforations and pretty rad colour combinations. The Watch OS is tweaked too and has specific watch faces to match the colour of the band, and a Nike swoosh on those faces that take you directly into the Nike+ community where you can brag about your triathlon training progress.
Apple Watch Series 2: Latest and greatest
Obviously, the waterproofing of such a smart device is the biggest headlining feature of the Watch Series 2. It’s no mean feat, mind you, and Apple has sprinkled its magic dust all over it. The Workout app now gets its own Pool Swim (Lap counting) and Open Water Swim modes (GPS) to track your exploits as a water baby. Once you’re done, swipe up from the bottom of the home screen and the control panel now reveals a water droplet that seals the watch and locks the screen.
When you’re down swimming, just swipe up from the home screen and a tinkle along with a cool graphic activates the water-eject mode. It plays a tone at a specific frequency which causes the speaker to achieve maximum excursion so as to expel the water that might have accumulated around its drive unit. It’s the kind of simplistic genius that Apple does so well, and really, the other such feature would be the AirPods that can only be appreciated once you have spent some time with them.
The GPS tracking is another big new feature, and again, has been intelligently implemented so that the user doesn’t need to manually switch it on/off. In Run mode, it activates automatically the moment it knows that the iPhone is not on the user. Conversely, it will also deactivate itself if you are carrying the phone with you so as to save battery. The GPS will use satellites to accurately triangulate your position and give you the route feedback, but in case you go under a road pass or through a tunnel, the built-in accelerometer will stitch up the gaps in the GPS signal to still give you an accurate track of your run. Clever. I’m no runner, but a walk without the phone yielded a pretty accurate telemetry of my treks and if you are into cycling or other activities, third party apps can also avail of the GPS and give you more statistics than you ever need.
As before, the sharing and rewards-based system can keep motivation levels high if you are the kid that obeys the digital overlord. Apple is aiming to make a whole generation healthier, if not fitter. Take a look at OS10’s new Bedtime app too. Discipline in routine is key here and the Apple Watch Series 2 has every trick in the book to give you a push.
Apple Watch Series 2: Performance and Screen
With a dual core CPU and a GPU that’s twice as powerful, the Watch Series 2 feels faster from the word go. The original suffered from stuttered responses after being idle for a while, but not here, no Sir. Coupled with the Watch OS3, the experience is super slick and thoroughly enjoyable. You’ll be tempted to leave your phone in your pocket more often than not. Thankfully, since the side button now shows up a dock, often used apps load even quicker and the app screen icons move around with the swiftness of a rabbit in heat.
Speaking of apps, there are a few that still don’t sit well with me, including the Breathe app. Just the other day, I was having an unusually busy morning and suddenly the Breathe app buzzed me, which sort of got annoying in a way you’d use the phrase “Don’t even have time to breathe!”. It may become a habit for some to follow, but I prefer my lungs to be the indicator of when I should be breathing. Viber or BBM never seem to work as advertised either, but these are anomalies that can be overlooked in appreciation of the larger picture.
Airline apps or Wallet seem to help me out the most with the mobile boarding pass QR codes, and many a times I’ve waltzed along the security just my showing my wrists. Similarly, with the new Scribble feature on the Watch OS3, it’s easier than ever to make quick replies to messages on iMessage, FB Messenger or Whatsapp. Speech to text is my favourite tool while driving.
Perhaps the one app with the most potential down the line will be the Home kit that controls your lights, AC, AV system and maybe more. Currently being spearheaded by the Philips Hue range of bulbs, it’s bound to blossom into a more comprehensive ecosystem and the Watch might just be the magic wand you wield when you get home.
The screen has been brightened up to 1000nits which is as bright as HDR screens, without any adverse effect on the battery life! It’s also extremely resilient to nicks and scratches, even with the Ion-X glass, and can withstand reasonable impact.
APPLE WATCH SERIES 2: THE VERDICT
Even if you don’t need a smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 2 makes a strong case for one. Despite all its improvements, it’s not a must-have device, but if you must have a device, this is the one to get. The activity tracker is one of the most eloquent with its information display out there in the smartwatch universe, it’s built like a tank and now that it’s waterproof, it really is a fitness device too.
There are nuances that you will appreciate more if you are locked into the Apple ecosystem, especially the unlock-your-Mac function which magically gets you to your MacBook screen in 2 seconds without ever typing out a password again. Garmin or Fitbit might still be the choice for pro runners, but if you’re not a freak of nature, this is the most you will need. It really is hard to unstrap it once you’ve adorned it.