Apple Watch Series 2 & WatchOS 3 Review | A Lethal Combination
The result of some hardware upgrades and a major system update, the long-awaited Apple Watch Series 2 was launched last month. While the first Apple Watch hits the mark in a lot of ways, it also has a few shortcomings that many hoped would be addressed with the new generation. Having been using the Apple Watch Series 2 regularly for a few weeks now, I can safely say that it’s everything the original watch should have been. Kudos to Apple for improving upon the first iteration’s weak spots so well, and then some. This is all thanks to the lethal combination that is the watch itself and the new WatchOS 3 operating system. Together, the two components have been made to be one of the best wearables on the market right now.
Apple Watch Series 2
Though the designs are nearly identical, rest assured quite a lot has changed between the first Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 2. The only visible difference is that the newer version is about 1mm thicker than the last due to the GPS chip. Visibly it’s not that noticeable but you do feel it when you initially put it on your wrist.
Being a runner, the GPS feature on the Apple Watch Series 2 was something that was at the top of my wishlist for the new piece. The other thing on the top of my wishlist was for it to be water resistant, and now it is. In fact, for up to 50 metres. Apple redesigned the speakers in the watch so that they actually expel excess water from them once you get out of the pool, ocean or shower. I’ve worn mine to do a few laps in the pool and also to relax in a hot spa at least a couple of dozen times. It’s so good not to have to worry about taking it off. The watch also has a water lock function to stop the screen from randomly changing when the water splashes on it.
Another improvement worth noting is that the screen of the Apple Watch Series 2 is double the luminosity of the first watch. Measuring at 1,000 nits, Apple boasts that it’s their brightest display yet. For a product that’s designed to be used outdoors a lot, this is an excellent upgrade. It makes it way easier to see all the info you need when you’re in the sun.
A common complaint with the first iteration of the Apple Watch is that it was rather slow. Thanks to a second generation S2 chip with a dual-core processor in the Series 2 it’s now twice as fast. This makes a world of difference to usability.
The upgraded operating system in the new Apple Watch Series 2 is WatchOS 3. Faster and with more functional features, its addition allows the product to really reach its full potential.
Alongside the new messaging features in iOS 10, WatchOS 3 has also had some super nifty improvements. My favourite is being able to reply to a message with Scribble, which is basically handwriting recognition on your watch. This means you are no longer restricted to replying using a set list of pre-determined texts or having to dictate your message to the watch which can be rather inaccurate when it’s noisy. While this is certainly useful in some situations, I almost always feel a little too, Dick Tracy, using voice to text – especially in public.
The upgraded operating system features the Breathe app, designed to prompt you throughout your day to take a moment and focus on your breathing. Though initially skeptical, I’ve actually found it to be pretty cool. The idea is similar to the ‘stand up’ reminder that tells you to get up and move every so often if you’ve been sitting down for a while. It’s a great way to remember to de-stress and experience a moment of calm when your day is getting really hectic.
WatchOS 3 makes it easy to switch between various watch-faces. I had always wanted the ability to use more Complications than offered from one watch-face and now I can with a simple swipe. This has really enhanced the the device for me and cemented it as the watch for every part of my life. I have three different watch faces that I cycle between; one for work, one for exercise, and one for social occasions.
For work, I use the Modular face, which I’ve set up to display the temperature, date, battery, next-event calendar, and a shortcut for the countdown timer. This is all the information that’s vital to me in my day-to-day work life. The countdown feature comes in quite handy, allowing me to make meetings more efficient by limiting the amount of time spent in them. Having the calendar displayed on the watch-face is a clear reminder of what I have coming up so I can prepare and ensure I’m on time.
For exercising, I use the Activity Analog face. From here I can easily activate the stopwatch or countdown for timed exercises or launch the Workout app. The Workout app itself is pretty extensive and can hold its own against other fitness apps. Having said that, you can use an extensive range of third party apps with the watch too such as Runkeeper and Zova.
After hours I switch to the Utility watch-face for a less businessy look. On this watch-face I’ve set up quick access to my messages, find-friends app, and my social calendar.
The Apple Watch Series 2 and WatchOS 3 combo has really helped Apple leap-frog its competitors in the wearables market. Water-proofing to 50m and inbuilt GPS has given the watch greater autonomy and given us less of a reason to take it off. Apple has definitely taken the learnings from previous WatchOS versions and delivered a much more well thought-through operating system. While you could argue that there are better ‘sports’ watches out there in the market, the Apple Watch Series 2 is going to be hard to beat as an all-round wearable with superior sports features.
Head over to apple.com for more info on the Apple Watch Series 2.