Thanks to college tuition and a hefty mortgage, and the need for every Mincey child living where the rent is free, I’ve had to curtail my early adopter status. Nope. Won’t get that new MacBook Pro. I put myself on the iPhone Upgrade Program just to stay within budget. And I decided to wait for Apple’s second Watch version, the Apple Watch Series 2, which became a holiday gift to myself thanks to Nike.
OK, I’m not much into running marathons or 10K but tracking steps and heart rate seems like a good idea, and I admit that I’m not using the Nike app at all. How did I come about getting the Nike version of Watch?
What I wanted was the Watch Series 2 with the black case and band but that model had a few weeks delivery time online, and every time I checked one of the two nearby Apple Stores they, too, were out of stock. Until the last time. I asked the Apple associate to check on the black and black Watch Series 2 and was told the same thing. Not in stock now. But they did have a 42mm Nike version. Same price. Ugly band.
Amazon Prime got me a couple of decent Watch bands; one similar to the Milanese Loop band that Apple charges $150 to grace your wrist, and another almost suede leather band seemingly the equivalent of Apple’s leather buckle band. Both for less than $30.
So, what’s Apple Watch Series 2 like? It’s what you want in Watch. The 42mm battery life is easily beyond 48 hours. It’s fast. The screen is so bright I changed the settings. It’s more than double the nit brightness of the original. In many ways, Series 2 reminds me of what came after the original iPhone and original iPod and original iPad. Improvements. It’s water resistant up to 50 meters so I don’t worry about removing it to take a shower after a run.
The way Watch Series 2 pushes out water from the few holes is remarkable. Open Control Center with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen, press the water drop button, and Watch pushes sound through the openings. I read that Series 2 is a bit bigger than the original, but it’s not as big as many watches you’ll see around. RAM is the same but the CPU is dual core. Series 2 also has GPS so mapping a run is doable even without carrying the iPhone.
How does Watch Series 2 feel?
It is lighter than expected but less conspicuous than expected. Not one person has asked me what it is or, if they know it’s an Apple Watch, how I like it. It also reminds me much of the original iPods with the white earbuds. You knew iPod was a hit when you started to see more of them in the wild. That’s the case with Apple Watch. They’re not everywhere yet, but they’re visible and growing in number.
I understand that navigation is easier in watchOS 3.x than the original. Just like iPhone, swipe down for Notification Center, swipe up from the bottom for Control Center. Tap the button button on the side to invoke the Dock, which displays a limited number of apps that reside in memory so they load to the screen instantly, so you swipe left or right to find the one you like.
Even better is a trick I picked up from reading the interwebs. Complications. That’s watch talk for small segments of the Watch face which can display additional information and be used to launch an app. I chose the Modular Watch face because it contains the most complications. Then I added multiple additional Modular faces with different complications on each. Changing from one Watch face to another is a simple swipe from the right of the screen to the left (and then the other direction to go back). New face color, more complications, and that’s actually easier to use than the Dock.
The fluoroelastomer band that comes with Watch is acceptable and better than expected, but all I could get was the black and green Nike version in 42mm, but there is a gray and all black. The black and green gives Watch a decidedly sport flavor which contradicts my decidedly non-sport physique, hence the Amazon Prime order for additional bands. Watch bands are easily interchanged. Because the 42mm battery lasts so long, I charge it in the early evening before going to bed so it also captures heart rate while sleeping. Check out the Cardiogram app.
Apple provides plenty of basic apps for Watch, including Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Clock with alarms, Maps, Messages, and Music, among others. What I added includes Cardiogram, Dark Sky, Due, HeartWatch, iTranslate, PCalc, Pedometer ++, Spark email (this is an email app you’ll like), theScore, Things, and Wunderground (weather).
Watch does take some trial and error, but it’s no different than the effort we went through for a few years after the iPhone App Store debuted. Watch is great at exercise tracking, heart rate tracking, alerts and notifications, and it’s damned good at making and answering phone calls and text messages without having to fish for an iPhone buried in the pocket.
Apple got Watch right. Finally.