Rod Chester reviews the Apple Watch: Series 21:05
Rod Chester reviews the second series of the Apple Watch, focussing on it's two major new features of fitness tracking and water resistance.
September 14th 2016
6 months ago
Rod ChesterNews Corp Australia Network
THERE is a sure sign the Apple Watch has just got a lot better. For the first time since the Apple Watch was launched, I’m only wearing one watch.
There has been a lot of changes to the Apple Watch since Tim Cook first unveiled it with the distinctive wheel of apps and the ability to send your heart rate to anyone else wearing an Apple Watch.
The problem with the design version was that those apps took an age to open from the wheel and some of the features, included the heart rate message, were a bit of a novelty whose shine wore off quickly.
There were enough features to keep me wearing it every day, including an activity tracker with the three wheels of standing, 30 minutes of exercise and calorie burn. But it had enough limitations that the Apple Watch was on my left wrist and a Garmin sports watch was on my right.
With Apple Watch Series 2, Apple has not only made the Watch a whole lot better, they have also changed the focus.
From the start, the Watch was about exercise. But now it’s truly an exercise Watch. In the past four days, I’ve worn it running the equivalent distance of a marathon and swum 2km in a pool and its performance has been impressive.
SPEED OF THE APPS
The first thing you notice about the Watch is speed. You hit a button to open an app and they open. Just like that. No more standing staring at your Watch screen or giving up and reaching for your iPhone.
Part of that extra speed is because of the hardware change. On the outside, the Watch looks the same. Inside there is a new dual-core processor that is up to 50 per cent faster. But part of it is also due to the new operating system, WatchOS 3.
The software, which is also available today for existing Apple Watch owners, makes it easier to open apps quickly.
When the Watch was first launched, the side button was used to open a circle of contacts.
Now the side button takes you to a dock of open apps — like double tapping on the home button of your iPhone _ and you can control which apps are in your dock and rearrange the order.
Apps kept in the dock or in complications on your watch face are kept in the memory so that they launch instantly.
You can now change watch faces just by sliding left or right on the screen, or through the Watch app on your iPhone, where you can also see which apps support complications for each watch face. Starting a run on the old Watch was the rather slow process of opening the app wheel, hitting on the icon (something which is not always easy with clumsy fingers) and waiting for it to open. Now I hit on the exercise icon that is a complication on my preferred watch face and it opens straight away.
Put the Watch Series 2 next to a Watch Series 1 and you won’t notice much difference but there are major changes you don’t see in a glance. It is water resistant, it has GPS, it has a brighter screen and there are changes across the range, most notably being the Apple Watch Edition where instead of being super expensive gold watches there is now a rather expensive white ceramic watch.
There are new watch faces, but not that many and no third party ones as yet. You can share your activities, if you want to let your trainer know you did the workout as promised or you just like to brag.
You still need to charge the Watch overnight, which means while it’s great as an activity tracker it still is not the best choice to track your sleep.
There were limitations to the Apple Watch Series 1 as an exercise watch, first of which was that it wasn’t something you could wear swimming or during other water sports.
As a running watch, it also had specific limitations because rather than having its own GPS it relied on the GPS in the iPhone. That was fine for basic information on distance travelled and overall speed of a completed run, but the information on your running pace at a particular moment was not accurate.
To a casual runner, that’s not a big deal. To someone trying to stick with a particular pace in a race, that was a big deal.
So, what’s the Watch Series 2 like?