Apple put sport and fitness at the heart of its launch of the Apple Watch Series 2 last night. Making the smartwatch waterproof to a depth of 50 metres and giving building in GPS tracking, meant the company could promote the launch as the perfect companion for swimmers, cyclists and runners.
Fitness tracking is still the number one function that users of connected wristwear demand, and Apple has delivered two highly desirable features with waterproofing and GPS, which allows people to leave their smartphones behind.
Apple was also joined by sports giant Nike in introducing Apple Watch Nike+, which pairs exclusive Nike Sport Bands with Apple Watch Series 2.
Apple Watch Series 2 also features a dramatically brighter display and a powerful dual-core processor. Combined with the performance enhancements of the watchOS 3 uprgaded operating system, Apple Watch Series 2 makes it even easier to access third-party apps, receive and respond to notifications and use Apple Pay.
Pre-order in the UK tomorrow, September 9, with first deliveries promised for September 16.
“We’re thrilled with the response to Apple Watch and how it’s changed people’s lives. We are committed to fitness and health and think our customers will love the new capabilities of Apple Watch Series 2,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
“With a powerful new dual-core processor, water resistance 50 meters and built-in GPS, Apple Watch Series 2 is packed with features to help our customers live a healthy life.”
Early reaction to the launch from Techradar was unenthusiastic. “The Apple Watch Series 2 is a good watch, but not stunning – there are better out there on the market, and what’s on offer here feels like the stuff we should have had two years ago. That said, Apple’s great at making tech work well in your life – if this is a seamless way to get people fitter, then it’s a great thing,” the online review site said hours after the launch.
The ability to wear a smartwatch while swimming is totemic, and Apple has pressed home the message by releasing apps that can count laps, track average lap pace and auto-detect stroke type to accurately measure active calorie burn.
With built-in GPS, Apple Watch Series 2 records precise distance, pace and speed for outdoor workouts such as walking, running or cycling, without needing to take an iPhone.
The luxury Swiss watch industry might breathe a sigh of relief that the marketing is so heavily skewed towards the fitness market, but there were also design announcements, such as the introduction of an all-ceramic case edition, that show Apple is still keen to become a style leader as well.
But it is millenials and even younger trendsetters that will make or break the smartwatch market, and they were firmly in mind when Apple invited Ninatec Labs on stage to announce that the Pokemon Go game will soon be released on Apple Watch Series 2.
A representative from Niantic Labs said that Pokemon Go has been downloaded over 500 million times since its launch this summer, and people have walked over 4.6 billion kilometers while playing the game. Alerts on a phone when a rare Pokemon is in the vicinity could be the killer app the industry has been waiting for.
Apple Watch is available in two different case sizes, 38 mm and 42 mm. Apple Watch Series 1 will be available in gold, rose gold, silver or space gray aluminum cases paired with a Sport Band and starts at just $269 (US); Apple Watch Series 2 will be available in gold, rose gold, silver or space gray aluminum, or silver or space black stainless steel cases paired with a wide variety of bands starting at $369 (US); and the new ceramic Apple Watch Edition starts at $1249 (US) from apple.com.