Today, Apple announced its second-generation smart watch, called Apple Watch Series 2. The new wearables will feature new fitness capabilities, including GPS and water resistance, improved performance, and a dramatically brighter display.
You can—and should—check out Apple Announces iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2 for my rundown of the news from the event, plus my Apple iPhone 7 Preview. And I hope that you followed along with me on Twitter today, since I skewered the presentation live.
But either way, here’s a quick rundown of today’s Apple Watch Series 2 announcement.
Too much choice. As before, Apple will sell both Apple Watch (Series 2) and Apple Edition versions of the new Apple Watch. The base Apple Watch comes in aluminum and includes a sport band, but you can upgrade to more luxury with stainless steel or ceramic (which is new) materials and various band styles and colors. There are also Apple Watch Hermès and, new to this year, Apple Watch Nike+, versions. It goes on and on and the prices quickly escalate.
Two case sizes, as before. Apple hasn’t really changed the form factor, which was smart as previous straps and accessories will work just fine. So there are still two case sizes—38 mm and 42 mm—available.
GPS. Taking the first step towards a future in which Apple Watch users don’t always need to be carrying their iPhone as well, the new Apple Watch features built-in GPS capabilities, a feature offered on many other wearables, to be fair. This means the device can record distance, pace and speed for outdoor workouts such as walking, running or cycling. This is almost certainly the biggest and most important new feature.
Water resistance. Apple Watch Series 2 can be used for shallow-water activities such as swimming in a pool or the ocean, and it features a new sealed design to accommodate this change. It can also count laps, track average lap pace and auto-detect stroke type while you’re swimming to accurately measure active calorie burn, Apple says.
Brighter display. Apple Watch Series 2 includes what Apple says is “a dramatically brighter display,” but this time it may not be hyperbole. The display is rated at 1,000 nits, making it twice as bright as the previous Apple Watch display and the brightest display Apple has ever shipped. What does this mean to you? You’ll be able to read the screen more easily in bright sunlight.
Better performance. Thanks to a second-generation System in Package (SiP), Apple Watch Series 2 provides a 50 percent performance improvement over the initial version, plus 2X graphics performance.
watchOS 3. While the latest version of Apple’s woeful watchOS doesn’t completely fix the usability issues of what I call the “bubble bath” user experience, it does at least make it easier to find and launch favorite apps more quickly. And it includes a variety of new fitness-based capabilities, which has emerged as the key usage scenario for Apple Watch.
New watch faces. Not my thing per se, but Minnie Mouse, Activity and Numerals will be available now in addition to previous watch faces.
Pricing. Apple Watch Series 2 (and Apple Watch Nike+) starts at $369, while Apple Watch Hermès starts at $1149 and Apple Watch Edition starts at $1249.
Availability. You can preorder Apple Watch Series 2 on September 9, and the devices will become available for sale on September 16. (Just like the iPhone 7.)
Initial Apple Watch is still available. As Apple does typically, it is keeping the first generation Apple Watch in-market, but it is renaming it to Apple Watch Series 1. These devices will be available in gold, rose gold, silver or space gray and start at just $269, which is actually pretty competitive.
This one … I’m not sure. If I do get an Apple Watch Series 2, it probably won’t be immediately, and I’m not honestly sure how review-worthy this is. Let me know if you feel strongly about that either way.