The last few years has seen an onslaught of fitness trackers and wearables being introduced in the market, with most companies getting their equations right in the form of a balance between functionality and features. But talk about the most hyped wearable out there, and you’ll invariably end up talking about the Apple Watch.
A couple of weeks back, the world was officially introduced to the Apple Watch Series 2, and while it still brings all the sweet, sweet sheen and class which goes hand in hand with all Apple devices out there, the major highlights come to the fore in the form of the functionalities of the watch in terms of fitness tracking.
So, can the Apple Watch Series 2 be touted as the next big thing in fitness wearables – a benchmark of sorts for other companies to compare their innovations with? Or are there bigger players looming in the distance, with more advanced features up their sleeves. Let’s take a deep dive (with our Series 2 watches on?) into all things up and about in the new Apple Watch.
TRACK EVERYTHING ON THE MOVE
Now one of the key highlights that the Series 2 brings to the table is in the form of in-built GPS. The GPS tracker can help record the distance covered by a runner, and can also correlate the data with time to get finer parameters, such as speed and pace. Tracking the location gets a bump in the form of Wi-Fi connectivity and the usage of locally stored satellite data to gain a deeper understanding about the outdoor workout regime.
Now, how is this significantly different? Well here’s the deal with geodata – it’s insightful. The underlying aim of the Quantified Self movement has always been the use of data to gain information which can be later converted into insight, and the Apple Watch does this bit by forming a route map at the end of the run, showing the user exactly where the user might have slowed down or stopped for a break.
This feature basically entails the user to go on a run, keeping the phone at home. Something we’ve seen in the last generation of Apple Watches, a welcome feature this time around as well.
Geolocations, fencing and location based insights has always been at the helm of affairs when it comes to smart contextual interaction, and the Watch Series 2 is simply further evidence that the inclusion of the GPS module within the Watch was a pretty neat idea.
THE WATERBUG’S FAVOURITE WEARABLE
So here’s the thing with wearables so far – most of them prefer to have their target audience as those who like to run, jog, skip or walk. Basically, land exercises. The reason is pretty simple: incorporating a pedometer into a wearable and enabling it to work underwater is a tad bit difficult, since a pedometer relies on accurate gravity parameters as well.
How, you might ask. Well, let’s keep the Watch aside for a bit and see how pedometers – the step counter within a wearable – actually works. There’s a teeny tiny circuit within a wearable which is comprised of multiple accelerometers – usually three, maybe even more. These accelerometers minutely keep a track of the changes in force as the wearable moves around. These changes are recorded and the count is displayed as the number of steps taken.
Simple and easy, right? Not so much when you’re swimming. Here’s where the Series 2 kicks things into action. According to the official release by the company, Apple incorporated over a hundred algorithms into the Watch which can accurately track intricacies of a swimming regime – right from what kind of water you’re swimming in (pool or open water) to counting laps, tracking the average lap pace and auto-detecting strokes.
This data can later be correlated for the usual processing prowess of the Series 2 Watch, namely in the form of calculating how many calories have been burnt by the swimmer. Add 50 metres water resistance to the mix, and you’re looking at a wearable that many a swimmer would like to wear.
SOFTWARE RUNNING THE SHOW
watchOS 3 constitutes the brains beneath the Series 2 watches, and to keep in tune with the advanced hardware (the new Apple Watches pack a second generation S2 chip – having a dual-core processor, a new GPU and overall snappier actions and seamless usability), the software too has a few fitness centric capabilities.
The Breathe app is one of more significance, as it encourages breathing exercises for stress reduction. Gamification is another thing vital for keeping the Quantified Self interested, and in this regard the Activity App brings the user’s family and friends in the midst of things – with the ability to share fitness stats and compare scores. The software can also cook up dedicated workout regimes for disabled and elderly people, thereby checking all boxes when it comes to broadening Apple’s target audience.
BONUS: NIKE’S IN TOWN
Everything is the same, save for the inclusion of coaches. The Apple Watch Nike+ sports an integration with the new Nike+ Run Club and expert coaches, who are enabled to guide a runner to get to a fitter lifestyle in a perfectly quantified manner. The features include reminders for running, guidance and motivation from friends and coaches and alerts about the weather, thereby helping the runner to accurately plan out an outdoors routine.
The other parameters that are recorded by the Apple Watch – heart rate, pace, distance and everything else – are available as summaries. Something like Instant’s weekly reports, but strictly for fitness.
OTHER PLAYERS OUT THERE
Is the Apple Watch Series 2 pioneering innovation, or merely following the trends? Well, take a look at the other wearables that have been launched so far. The new Gear watches from Samsung that were launched some time back, the new Moto 360 range, and even the new watches from Pebble pack some similar features into their devices. Upcoming devices worth looking out for might include a new health tracker by Alphabet, which will pretty much track all kinds of health stats.
But as of today, the Apple Watch gets all things right in the equation – where the bottom line is attaining a balance between fitness features, functionality, style and app integrations and support for third party developers. With the Apple Watch Series 2, Apple is basically proving that fitness shall continue to remain one of the stronger drivers behind wearable innovation.