The Apple Watch Series 2 is finally going on sale, after 18 months of frenzied anticipation. The smartwatch contender had been predicted and expected for a long time prior to its unveiling alongside the iPhone 7, and already the early verdicts are rolling in on this smartwatch competitor.

Apple Watch Series 2

Apple Watch Series 2 fitness focus

There is no doubt that Apple has placed a greater fitness focus on the Apple Watch Series 2 than in the previous generation of the smartwatch. The two new major features of the Apple Watch, GPS and waterproofing, are both focused on delivering improved health-tracking functionality. Ironically, Apple has removed the sport labelling from the last generation of the Apple Watch, but the reason for this is quite clear; every version of the Apple Watch Series 2 is intended to be sporty.

Already the swimming and running applications of this new smartwatch have received favorable reviews, and it seems that the Apple Watch Series 2 will be successful in terms of being a companion to athletes. Whether this will be enough to ensure that the new smartwatch is a commercial success remains to be seen, but Apple can at least be pleased that the consensus of opinion is that they have achieved a significant health-tracking victory.

apple watch series 2 photo
Apple Watch Series 2 by cchana, Flickr

Interface

The performance, controls and interface of the Apple Watch Series 2 have also been improved with the release of watchOS 3, and this has drawn early plaudits from critics noting the improved performance of the smartwatch.

Swimming and water resistance

The water resistance included in the Apple Watch Series 2 is also interesting, with the smartwatch having the ability to resist water pressure at depth of approximately 50 meters. This means that it is possible to wear the Apple Watch Series 2 while swimming; obviously opening up the smartwatch to a whole host of possibilities with both amateur and professional swimmers. The watch also includes a water-lock feature which even enables you to wear it in the shower.

One of the pleasing aspects of the new operating system is its ability to work smartly. For example, the watchOS 3 operating system is able to detect whether a swimmer is utilizing freetroke, breast stroke or the butterfly, and count strokes and laps automatically on this basis. The Apple Watch Series 2 can also make phone calls via Wi-Fi, and send messages that you handwrite on the screen, showing a nifty smartness which is pleasing.

But the ability of the watchOS 3 operating system to integrate with other Apple devices has been especially praised. In particular, the watch has the capability to integrate with the iPhone’s new OS 10 and the new Sierra OS for the Mac. This makes it possible to turn on a MacBook by utilizing the Apple Watch Series 2, while there are also fascinating smartphone possibilities as well. Home devices, such as spotlights, can also be connected to the Apple network, and controlled remotely via the Apple Watch Series 2 smartwatch.

Performance

The general performance of the Apple Watch Series 2 has been improved, with the smartwatch featuring the brightest OLED display available in this niche. The dual-core processor included in the smartwatch has significantly improved the performance of the unit, and this is certainly a slicker and more powerful device than its predecessor.

Apple Watch Series 2

Software improvements also ensures that performance is fast and fluid, and Apple has announced that this software will also be migrated to the original Apple Watch as well. Nonetheless, there have been reports that Apple is experiencing difficulties with some of the applications on the Apple Watch Series 2, and this is slightly concerning, considering convenient operability is one of the most important aspects of this smartwatch. Hopefully any teething problems will be ironed out early in the lifecycle of the device.

GPS focus

But the critical community has particularly focused on the new GPS system included in the Apple Watch Series 2, which ultimately defines the identity of the smartwatch. This device is ultimately viewed by most critics as a fitness-tracking device, with the GPS central to this process.

One problem with the GPS is that the battery in the Apple Watch Series 2 only lasts for five continuous hours while pulling down a signal. While this is problematical enough in itself, there are also some technical difficulties for the smartwatch according to reviewers. When utilizing the GPS system in outdoor workout mode, the Apple Watch Series 2 does not give any indication that it is being utilized. This poses two difficulties; on the one hand it is not entirely clear whether or not the GPS system is working, and then on another hand, the battery can be drained rather rapidly without users realizing that GPS is in operation.

water resistant watch photo
Apple Watch Series 2 by pestoverde, Flickr

Accuracy

But the accuracy of the Apple Watch Series 2 in GPS mode has been praised by reviewers. Testing the second-generation Apple Watch on walking, running and cycle routes have found that recorded distances are extremely accurate in comparison to smartphone systems. This is reassuring, and means that the device can be utilized by professional athletes as a valuable training companion.

Features

While Apple has included its fair share of new features in the Apple Watch Series 2, it is also worth noting that many remain rather similar to the original Apple Watch. Indeed, the optical heart rate sensors are exactly the same, and daily activity is still displayed in a series of multi-colored rings both on the Watch itself and in the compatible iPhone app.

Verdict

However, despite all of the positive aspects of this new Apple Watch Series 2, and the fact that the critical community believes that it has significantly improved on its predecessor, there are still question marks about this device. Above all else, the feeling persists that this is simply not an essential purchase, and ultimately does little which cannot be achieved with an iPhone; while not achieving true independence from the Apple smartphone. Apple still has some way to go with the Apple Watch to prove that this can become a mainstream device range.