18 months has raced by since the very first Apple Watch appeared on hipster wrists the world over, and now Series 2 has hit the company’s long, wooden sales tables. I really loved that first version, and posted a super in-depth review of it HERE on a trip to the Maldives – which as an aside, remains the most breathtaking place I’ve ever been on this planet! Since that review was one of the most read articles I’ve ever published on this blog, today’s post is a timely addendum, bringing up-to-date my views on the latest iteration of this much-hyped techy timepiece. At the outset, I must declare that I have received no compensation from Apple for either this or the previous review; these are my authentic and impartial personal views, so please take them as such. The essence is that they’ve crammed a whole lot more essential kit into this version, and as a result, I’ve noticed the conversation shifting away from ‘ooh you have one of those?‘ to ‘ah, how are you using & customising yours?’ I think we’re on the cusp of getting to serious grips with the data on offer, so read MORE to get the full set of observations on my Apple Watch Series 2.0. (Pictures shot on Santa Monica beach)
To the naked eye, it might look as though the designers have been asleep for 18 months, as to behold, there’s little besides an almost-imperceptibly-thicker and more bevelled case to set Series 2 apart from its older brother. And there’s even a strong chance that I’m imagining that. But I maintain that this is a proper development to the product, and the aesthetic similarities hide vast differences in capability; today’s skis might look similar to the retro 1980’s planks, but the technology contained within is incomparable, as are the feats they can enable.
I went for the entry-level Sport version, with 38mm aluminium case, in space black, with matching black rubber strap, priced at £369.00. So what do I like about the new one? Here are 8 of my favourite elements…
1) Activity Tracker – I get awesome encouragement along the way, telling me how much further I have to go; Apple Watch speaks to me wirelessly or vibrates alongside a supportive message if I’m not connected by wireless headphones. Previously, since I’d never set it up as such, my old watch didn’t do that for me – but I really like the tone of it; not too preachy, insistent, or holier-than-thou, but genuinely well pitched and encouraging.
2) Sport specific optionality – you can now choose modes of exercise in a more specific way. The old version always had indoor/outdoor running, indoor/outdoor cycling, rowing, stair-stepper, indoor/outdoor walk etc. The two new workout modes are ‘Pool Swim’ and ‘Open Water Swim’ which have been introduced now that Apple Watch is swim proof. This added breadth is far more realistic and practical for someone like me who enjoys mixing up the types of physical activity I undertake. It also feels as though the accuracy of the measurements has been refined and improved.
3) Take it underwater – it’s water resistant to 50 meters which is good enough for casual, normal swimming. It’s likely to function just perfectly down at 50 meters too, so I’d be more than comfortable tracking my occasional scuba activities with it. The swim workout feature is great too, as it auto-detects whether you’re doing butterfly, breaststroke, front crawl etc. Different swim strokes burn calories at different rates, and combined with the number of lengths, total distance, it can intelligently calculate your total calorie burn and track your heart rate through the exertion. The water lock stops the screen reacting to water swiping over it when swimming so you can keep capturing your swim stats uninterrupted. That’s all a big advancement on the previous version, for me.
4) GPS module contained within – so bringing my iPhone is no longer required. The watch can pinpoint me without 3rd party help, which means I need only bring my keys with me! The fewer props I need to have on me, the more hassle-free my run, and the more liberating the whole experience. The transponder tracks my route and maps it, even when in water. It all syncs up automatically when I’m back at base.
5) I can see the display better! Series 1 was hard to read in some bright light conditions. Series 2 is way easier, is twice as bright, and gives me a display experience I’d compare to my iPhone. Much better. Likewise, the battery capability seems much better able to cope with full use through the day, but I still have to charge it every evening next to my phone.
6) Customisable: I love that I can change the functionality and layout of my bespoke watch face. At first I went all functional, with ‘Activity Rings’ for my main display and ‘Workout / Battery / Day-Date’ complications… but then Mickey won my heart! He adorably speaks back the time when I press him, a function invented originally for visually challenged Watch owners.
7) Sleepy time: I can monitor my sleep. I’ve done it a few times, and I like being able to do so, but I need to charge the watch overnight, so there’s only limited value in this function for me, quite yet.
8) …And Breathe! One of my favourite features is that Apple Watch reminds you once an hour to take a little breather, but you can set the reminder-interval to your taste. The combination of the breathing graphic and the gentle, swelling vibrations helps to regulate your breathing rhythm nicely, and makes an immediate, perceptible difference to the way you feel. Then, thereafter, you can tie that feeling in with the readout of your heart rate. I totally love this feature, as it introduces a little mindfulness to your day in a personal, but subtle way.
SO THE VERDICT…
– Inbuilt GPS is my favourite feature. Going for runs is when I want to use the watch the most, as well as one of the times I want to put my phone aside and just have an hour of dedicated ‘me’ time; to have to faff around with a phone is somewhat of a headache, even if just on the arm. I just want a water bottle and my keys. This gives the flexibility to switch off from the phone, zone into the run, not carry too much around and still get all the data and instruction you need.
– Waterproofing is awesome as now I can track my swims and get submerged data which I’ve lacked so far. Afterwards, I can just jump in the shower and not have that moment of abject panic when I realise my watch is with me, and about to rust!
– I really love the mindfulness component of ‘Breathe’. Tat’s not just fluffy stuff, but has scientific linkage to wellness. Afer the breathe, it’s good to see the heart rate instantly linked to your post breathe relaxation. You see that the activity immediately has an effect on your heart and sense of wellbeing.
– There’s a certain ‘Robocop’ feeling that you have everything on your arm.
– Also, it’s becoming a taking point in a different way. Now, Apple Watch is about how people are using the watches, how they customise them, how they engage with them and what they enjoy about them. Rather than just ‘oh look, you have the Apple Watch‘. So far as I can tell, that’s only a good thing when it comes to buddies encouraging each other!
All photographs taken in Santa Monica beach, bathed in the heavenly orange-pink sunset!