Apple Watch still won't track your sleep, but with the new Series 2 version ($369 and up) and watchOS 3, Apple made its wearable an even more compelling activity tracker. Here are three good reasons why fitness and wellness junkies — especially swimmers, hikers and runners — may want to buy the new Apple Watch.
1. Apple Watch Series 2 is swimproof
Unlike the first-generation Apple Watch, Series 2 is waterproof up to 50 meters, so you can wear it in a pool. The new Watch's Activity app lets you record workouts in both the ocean and a pool. The device's many sensors can count laps, track your average lap pace, and auto-detect stroke types to measure active calorie burn.
Of course, Apple isn't the first to market with a swimproof smartwatch. Other models include Pebble Classic, Pebble Steel, Garmin Vivoactive HR, and the upcoming Nixon Mission Android Wear. Some additional wearables that are already available or are coming soon, such as Misfit Speedo Shine and Fitbit's upcoming Flex 2, also offer swim tracking.
However, given the high quality of most Apple products, Apple Watch Series 2 could become the best of breed among swimproof smartwatches.
2. GPS-guided hiking trails on Watch Series 2
Apple Watch Series 2's built-in GPS means athletes, especially those in training, don't need to wear an iPhone to get precise data on distance, pace and speed. Apple also says users can start outdoor workouts immediately, rather than waiting for a GPS connection, because Watch Series 2 uses Wi-Fi, GPS and stored satellite data to identify location right away.
That all sounds great, but a new iOS app called ViewRanger, announced at Apple's big event this week, caught my attention, too. ViewRanger is already available for iOS and Android, and it uses Watch Series 2's built-in GPS to guide you along hiking paths. On your Watch, you can choose a nearby hike based on desired length (say, a 4-mile hike versus an 8-mile one), get route guidance, and receive alerts if you wander off the trail or about sites worth seeing along the route. The app looks like a cool way to make exercise more engaging, a goal that's similar to rival Fitbit's Adventures feature, a new personal challenge in Fitbit apps.
3. A Nike+ Apple Watch for runners
Apple and Nike have worked together for a long time. (Anyone else remember sticking an iPod-compatible sensor in their Nikes?) The partnership has now yielded a special Nike+ edition Apple Watch Series 2 ($369 and up), which comes with perforated sport bands designed to give relief to sweaty wrists, two Nike watch faces that can be personalized, and the Nike+ Run Club app, for daily motivation, run reminders, challenges from friends and weather-related alerts.
Bummer alert: The Nike+ Apple Watch isn't expected to ship until late October, while the Apple Watch Series 2 should ship in mid-September.
Other notable Apple Watch Series 2 features
Apple says the new Watch Series 2 screen will be 50 percent brighter than the first-generation Watch. That could help make it easier to see during outdoor workouts, though the first Apple Watch screen is pretty easy to view under bright skies. A brand new Breathe app is coming to all Apple Watch models with watchOS 3, which reminds you to take timeouts for guided breathing sessions. WatchOS 3 also lets you share workout stats with friends, a la Fitbit's leaderboard.
Apple announced a Pokemon Go Apple Watch app, as well, which will let gamers chase virtual creatures while keeping an eye on their activity stats. Of course, you'll still want to keep an eye on where you're going, too.
Apple didn't reinvent the Apple Watch with the Series 2 update. And some features were already available on other devices. The Watch Series 2 feels like a logical evolution, however, thanks largely to its emphasis on fitness and health.