Apple has finally unveiled its second generation smartwatch, with the Apple Watch Series 2 arriving at its annual Californian hardware event. Many had expected this smartwatch to be named the Apple Watch 2, but Apple has shied away from this rather predictable branding, suggesting that the Apple Watch name will be retained a long way into the future.
This is a logical move, as Apple must wrestle with the reality of creating an exciting new product for consumers, while also ensuring that it doesn’t jettison the existing Apple Watch completely. From a psychological perspective, retaining the Apple Watch name for this second generation model is a sensible decision.
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Apple Watch Series 2 – Design retained
So what is new about the Apple Watch Series 2, and how does it move the Apple smartwatch brand forward? Well, the first thing to note is that Apple has made very few tangible design alterations to the Apple Watch Series 2. The square, customizable face associated with the original Apple Watch is retained, with Apple resisting the pressure to produce a circular version of the smartwatch. It is natural for Apple to attempt to establish the design of the Apple Watch as an iconic image, much as has been the case with the likes of the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
The single digital crown from the original Apple Watch is also retained, enabling consumers to scroll and zoom information as required. It is also notable that the single-day battery life from the original Apple Watch has not been improved; something that was widely anticipated by analysts. This will certainly be something of a disappointment for fans of the smartwatch series, and those seriously considering purchasing one for the first time.
However, there are two big changes to the capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 2. The first is the introduction of a water-resistant shell, which was naturally strongly promoted by Apple during its keynote presentation. This will make the second generation Apple Watch a considerably more flexible performer, with Tim Cook in San Francisco indicating the belief of the corporation that it would be particularly beneficial for swimmers and divers. No doubt that Apple will be looking to hook up with some professionals in due course.
In addition, Apple has also included a GPS chip in the Apple Watch Series 2, opening up the device to a wide range of new functionality. While the waterproofing of the second generation Apple Watch was almost ubiquitously predicted, analysts experienced more disagreement over this second new aspect of the smartwatch. Indeed, just weeks ago it was reported by credible sources that the Apple Watch Series 2 would not feature GPS connectivity due to technical issues.
However, this has proved to be ultimately unfounded, and the GPS incorporated in the Apple Watch Series 2 will enable the device to perform mapping without any attendant iPhone. Nonetheless, despite the fact that this is undoubtedly a welcome feature, it will also drain the battery in the Apple Watch rather rapidly, so it will be interesting to see how it performs in real-world conditions.
This also impacts upon the feature set that Apple included in the Apple Watch Series 2, with several useful potential applications of the smartwatch unfortunately excluded. Although the Apple Watch Series 2 now has the ability to provide information on geographic location, it does not have the capability to receive notifications, make calls or send text messages. Again, this will be something of a disappointment, as it does rather indicate that the Apple Watch user will still be somewhat reliant on a tethered iPhone, at least to perform activities which are considered everyday by most people.
In order to ensure that the Apple Watch Series 2 runs like clockwork, Apple has upgraded the processor in the device, branding it the S2. The dual-core processor that the Cupertino-based company has included in the second generation smartwatch is 50 percent faster than the original Apple Watch processor, while a new GPU also doubles the potential graphics performance of the unit.
Apple has also improved the display of the Apple Watch Series 2, with the screen now capable of 50 percent more brightness than its predecessor. What this effectively means is that utilizing apps and manoeuvring through the interface of the Apple Watch has been made considerably slicker, especially with the software-side upgrades provided with the watchOS 3 operating system. A tie-in with Nike, and a special Nike+ edition Apple Watch 2, was also discussed in California.
Whether this will be enough to ensure that the Apple Watch Series 2 is the impactful success that Apple is hoping for remains to be seen. But the California company did reveal the price of the device at launch, with American consumers asked to shell out $369 to purchase this wristwatch.