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New wearable tech features waterproofing, enhanced GPS capabilities, and cord-free earbuds.
Is a standalone fitness watch a thing of the past? Apple’s betting on it. At its event in San Franscisco today, the tech giant unveiled its Watch Series 2, designed with the fitness-conscious techie in mind.
Though the original Apple Watch could be utilized as a fitness tool (using basic activity trackers and heart rate monitors), it fell short in providing the detailed data provided by dedicated fitness watch companies such as Garmin, Timex or Suunto. In designing the newest incarnation of the Apple Watch, designers set out to create “the ultimate device for a healthy life,” said Apple development chief Jeff Williams during today’s press conference.
Triathletes will be most excited to learn the newest watch is waterproof, allowing for workout tracking in both pools and open water. After years of failed attempts to create a watertight watch without eliminating the speakers (an easy entry portal for water), the company designed a successful module that ejects water from the speaker opening, keeping internal electronics dry.
With new beefed-up GPS capabilities, the Watch Series 2 claims to connect more quickly to satellites than other fitness watches. Along with the embedded GPS, the new product touts a faster processor to record metrics such as time, distance, pace, and heart rate. Upon completion of a training session, the Watch can sync with other Apple products, such as a laptop or tablet, to download workout data for analysis. External workout apps, such as Strava, can easily be downloaded to the watch.
Finally, the Watch Series 2 connects to Apple’s new cord-free earbuds (called AirPods), eliminating the need to carry an iPhone for access to music playlists and audio navigation during training sessions.
Of course, the watch will still serve its original purpose: phone, text, e-mail, and social media apps are all accessible on the watch, making it easy to stay connected on the go.
For a limited time, Apple will offer a special-edition Apple Watch Nike+, touting all the attributes of the Series 2 plus features connected to the Nike+ Run Club app, including coaching, virtual training partners, leaderboard challenges, and social sharing.
Both the Watch Series 2 and Nike+ are set to retail for $369, putting the price at a mid-to-high price point for GPS watches with multisport capabilities. How will the user experience of the Watch compare to dedicated multisport units? We’ll find out soon enough. The Apple Watch Series 2 will be available beginning Sept. 16, while the Apple Watch Nike+ will hit stores in late October.