I’m taking the Apple Watch 2 very seriously — and you should too
OPINION Andy Vandervell is convinced the Apple Watch 2 will make or break Apple’s smartwatch ambitions
Modern Apple is defined by great sequels. Sure, the original iPhone and first iPad set the tone, but the iPhone 3G and iPad 2 were the runaway successes. That’s why you should take the Apple Watch 2 seriously, even if you think the first one was a failure.
If it was a failure, then it was a funny kind. According to Financial Times, estimates suggest Apple sold 12 million Apple Watches in its first 12 months, double the number of first-gen iPhones it sold. It already owns 47% of the smartwatch market, albeit down from a ridiculous 72% this time last year.
What it didn’t do is meet the industry’s expectations or nail the formula for a good smartwatch. The first is easy enough to dismiss. Analyst estimates and predictions are a fickle business and I don’t care if Apple’s share price goes up, down or discovers a whole new dimension in space and time. It’s the second bit I care about and, by this measure, the failure tag sticks pretty firmly.
In typical Apple fashion, it nailed the look and feel. The range of straps and sizes was fantastic. The square vs round camps can debate all they want, but the Apple Watch looked great. It just wasn’t great to use.
The first incarnation of WatchOS was a weird mishmash of ideas with no real focus. What was the Apple Watch for? I used one for two months and couldn’t work it out. Parts, like walking directions, showed promise, but getting to the good stuff was too much fuss to be useful.
WatchOS 2 was meant to improve things, particularly the iffy performance, but didn’t. One of the key additions was third-party support for ‘complications’ — a name inspired by an old watchmaking term, but which sums the watch up perfectly. “Yup, here’s more complicated stuff. You work it out.”
But, if Max’s Parker’s impressions of WatchOS 3 are anything to go by, it looks as if Apple’s finally found its way. Hilariously, Max found an app opened on WatchOS 3 loaded seven seconds faster than on WatchOS 2 — a great improvement on ageing hardware that illustrates how poor it was before.
Max also praised the new app switcher, which means you can largely avoid the horrendously confusing homescreen, and the renewed focus on the health and fitness side of things. Above all else, he reckons it’s a “good update for what it takes away, rather than what it adds”.
For a company often accused of not listening to its customers, it feels like Apple has finally unclogged its ears and fixed a number of key problems. I’m encouraged by the progress.
And if the iPhone and iPad prove anything, it’s that Apple’s second-gen hardware always hits the right notes. Where the first iPhone had some weird limitations, such as the recessed headphone jack, the iPhone 3G fixed that and added a vital key feature: 3G. For the iPad, a slimmer, lighter design and serious performance improvements made it a convincing upgrade.
What about the Apple Watch 2? Well, if a recently pulled Nike Run Club app update rings true, built-in GPS could be the killer feature. I’d wager versions with and without is more likely, especially given that other leaks suggest no GPS, but an Apple Watch that’s also a serious running companion seems like a good selling point to me.
Beyond this, a repeat of the iPhone 3G trick — i.e. a much cheaper, but also better, entry-level option — would do wonders. Whatever happens, history proves Apple gets it right second time around.