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In Depth : The implications of Apple Watch Series 2

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Apple’s September 7th event set the tone for the remainder of the year in technology, and as is often the case during the autumn and into the holiday season, it’s going to be all about Apple.

The company had plenty of interesting announcements that didn’t deal with product releases specifically, but the newly unveiled iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus) and Apple Watch Series 2 are going to be the talk of the tech world, as well as the holiday gift-giving season.

We already got into the specifics of the Apple Watch Series 2, including new games, new exercise tools, different materials and internal specs, and a few interesting apps. But because Apple tends to set trends rather than just release fun products, in this post we’ll look into some of the broader implications of the new watch’s capabilities.

This One Will Get People Interested

Relative to other major Apple innovations—the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad—the Apple Watch didn’t sell that well. That’s not to say no one’s buying it. Tim Cook pointed out during Wednesday’s event that it had become one of the better selling watches in the world, and to be sure the company is making money off of it.

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But it wasn’t anything close to the sensation that we’ve grown used to seeing brand-new Apple products becoming. In fact, a little over a year ago a write-up in Forbes was even titled “Why The Apple Watch Won’t Sell,” with the critique going so far as to say it “misses the point of what a watch is for.” Ouch.

But this time around, it’s a good bet people will take notice. Apple is doubling down on functionality, meaning by some measures it’s still missing the point of a traditional watch—but it’s doing its own thing better. As we pointed out in our recap of the unveiling, this thing will have an “S2 processor” that will make it 50 percent faster than its predecessor with double the graphics performance. In other words, just using it next to the Apple Watch will make the original seem archaic already. That’s not a small thing.

Wait, The Last One Wasn’t Waterproof?

That’s right—not even the sportier Apple Watch with the silicone band was actually waterproof, no matter how readily you might have assumed it was. The key term used in describing the original was “splash proof.” We already made note of that in the initial recap, but it’s important to dwell on a bit because it means something very important: we’re never going back.

This was a big hurdle for the Apple Watch. The device seemed a little bit delicate, frankly, and now users can be less hesitant about where to take it and how to use it. The water resistant Series 2 can be showered with, taken into the pool or into the ocean, or even taken on shallow diving trips. It can be rained on, muddied up, and worn while washing dishes. In other words, the broader implication is this: you never need to take it off. And that brings us to the most significant point of all…

Fitness Bands Just Became Obsolete

Sorry, FitBit. Sorry, Garmin. Sorry, Jawbone. These are the brands that headline Wareable’s latest ranking of the best fitness tracking devices, and they’re all about to be smothered by Apple—and Nike, which was smart enough to partner up for the Series 2 Apple Watch, presumably burying the FuelBand in the process.

Alright, so they might stick around a little bit, given that their price points can be up to a few hundred dollars lower than the Apple Watch. But that’s what they’ve become: cheaper, economy options (which is still fine because they work pretty well). The Apple Watch Series 2 has taken over supremacy in wearable fitness tracking, simply by going waterproof, incorporating Siri as a sort of hands-free workout assistant, and employing new technology to track swimmers’ exercise.

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Here we come back to the idea that Apple could be seen as missing the point of a watch. But while working to perfect the smart watch concept, they’ve almost inadvertently (well, not really) stumbled on the most high-powered fitness-tracking device out there. And that Nike partnership certainly doesn’t hurt, from an advertising standpoint if nothing else.

Welcome, Game Developers

Games have already become fairly impressive on the Apple Watch’s tiny screen, but the introduction of Pokémon Go could spark a revolution. The biggest game in app stores just made its way to Series 2, and while that’s a selling point on its own, it also paves the way for other games with massive followings to find ways to work on the device.

Casino games come to mind as some that might just be simple enough to take their gigantic player bases and move them to the watch. Card games have already worked, but others could be hot on their heels. Gala has taken a straightforward game and made it more interactive through playful themes and live caller options, and bingo certainly seems simple enough for the small watch screen; a live caller could flash on screen before it showed you a small card to fill out. Tiny slot reels and roulette wheels, too, could bring in huge numbers of gamers.

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Or, perhaps even more likely, we could simply see Pokémon Go’s competitors working on new ways to adapt to the watch platform. Other viral games like Clash Of Clans and Angry Birds don’t seem compatible, but developers know that just by employing their characters in any kind of new game they’ll generate a lot of downloads. There’s no reason not to expect something along the lines of Angry Birds Go, for that matter, on the Apple Watch.

The Hiking Thing Could Be Huge

The introduction of a hiking-related app was one of the strangest parts of the Apple event. It came out of nowhere, frankly, but it might have subtly been one of the biggest aspects of the Series 2 that was revealed.

Why? Well, because technology is suddenly playing a very crucial role in getting people to be active and explore the world. Pokémon Go is actually part of that same phenomenon. But Apple has taken a unique step by offering a program devoted entirely to exercise through the exploration of nature. That’s not to say everyone is going to get out and hike (though it’s a good bet many more will). But the question of what’s next is now fascinating.

Could there be an Apple Watch app for rock climbing? What about surfing? What about skiing, wakeboarding, or roller blading? With the hiking app, Apple has made a very interesting decision to blend exercise with hobbies, and that could go a long way.

Hopefully, reading through all of this has helped to give you a sense of why we’re betting the Apple Watch Series 2 is more of a game changer than its predecessor. It’s probably going to end up being a bigger deal that it may have seemed on Wednesday.


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