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The Apple Watch 2 Review: Lord Of The Rings Of Activity

Apple Watch 2 is an expensive but super combination of a fitness tracker and a smartwatch.

26/10/2016 3:02 PM IST | Updated 27/10/2016 1:27 PM IST
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How many times have you seen an ad for a fitness tracker or a music player, featuring joggers? Many times, right? And, mostly in these ads, the music player is in the jogger's pockets or strapped on to their arm.

Also, many of us have tried running with our phones, either clutching them in our hand or carrying them in our pocket. The experience can be a bit of cumbersome. The Apple Watch Series 2 changes that.

For the last 15 days, I have been using a black aluminium Apple Watch Series 2 and boy, I like it. I am more couch potato than fitness enthusiast, but the Apple Watch has already managed to change some of my habits for the better.

It is true that buying an Apple Watch in India is not a light investment. But if you are an iPhone user who is thinking about buying a fitness tracker. Think no more, just get the Apple Watch. There are plenty of things to say about the best-selling smartwatch in the world.

I personally own the Moto 360 and, having used round analog and smartwatches, I was skeptical of the looks of a rectangular smartwatch. But the Apple Watch threw my speculations in the bin. The version I am using has a 38 mm screen with the black and silver woven nylon watch strap. I have another caramel coloured woven nylon strap and a gray rubber sports watch band. Even without the sports band, the watch can be worn comfortably during a run, or in the shower or when one is out and about.

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Unlike many Android wear smartwatches, which look like accessories for a comic con cosplay, the Apple Watch looks and feels like a regular watch. The waterproofing is effective and, thanks to the IP67 protection, you can go for a swim, take a shower, or cook in the kitchen without having to worry. The latest version of the watch also has a brighter screen which lights up to a 1000-nit level
(equivalent to the light of a 1,000 candles).

Setting up the watch is easy and once you have followed the couple of steps displayed on the watch and the iPhone screen, you are good to go. You can always control the watch from the app on the phone.

The Apple Watch Series 2 has the WatchOS3 operating system, which means that there have been many changes in its ecosystem. It takes a day or two to get a proper feel for the modified system. The 'friends menu' (basically, the contacts list) is gone and now pressing the button on the side of the watch opens up an app switcher that is similar to the dock in the Macbook.

It holds some of the pinned apps, as well as the recently used apps. The apps can be changed using the Apple Watch app on the iPhone. Long-pressing the side button will take you to the power and emergency menu. The watch also has on-screen buttons to switch it off or send an SOS to your emergency contacts.

The famed digital crown on the side also has newer functionalities. Press it once and the beehive like app conglomerate appears. Press and hold it to call for the services of Siri, the personal assistant. Switching watch faces has also become very easy now. You just have to swipe left or right on the default watch face to toggle between available options. There are some nifty commands included in the watch faces, with shortcuts to activity, music, the breathe mode, and more. On any screen, you can swipe up from the bottom of the watch to open the quick setting menu which has options such as the waterproofing mode, mute, airplane mode and more.

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Now, let's look at the area where the watch excels, fitness. I have used fitness trackers and smartwatches before and, mostly, accessing my data has involved a lot of fumbling about. When you are setting up the Apple Watch, it will ask you to set your daily goal of burning 'x' number of calories and doing 'y' minutes of exercise.

The watch has three activity rings -- the outer red/pink ring represents how much you have moved or, in other words, how many calories you have burnt; the green ring in the middle indicates the number of minutes spent exercising on a given day; and the innermost blue ring records the total number of hours or minutes that you remained standing on a given day. When you meet your daily target, the rings will be fully filled. You can access the activity screen from the watch face or the dock. Swiping up from the rings will open up the activity graphs, giving a break-up of the exact figures and hours devoted to each activity.

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For recording the data for any exercise session, you can go to the activity menu from the dock and select an activity such as an outdoor run, an outdoor walk, or a pool swim. If you choose to engage in an activity that is not listed, then only the duration, heart-rate and calories spent will be recorded by your Apple Watch.

I mostly took outdoor walks and runs, and the watch does a fantastic job. Firstly, since the watch has internal storage, I can sync it with Apple Music and run without my phone, listening to music through the Bluetooth headset. Secondly, the inbuilt GPS helps in tracking the movement and the vital stats. Post workout, you can see the map in the activity app on the phone. The way the GPS works is by pinging the satellite after a certain number of seconds. As there are no radically random movements during a run, this approach helps in saving the watch's battery. The activity app has achievement badges as well and one can think of them as trophies in Snapchat, but for exercising.

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While I haven't gone for a swim wearing the Apple Watch, it works without any hiccups if you wear it in the shower or wash your hands in the sink. Although, you must remember to switch on the waterproof mode from the quick toggle menu before any such activity. You can switch the waterproof mode on by pressing the drop icon. Essentially, the watch has only a single outlet from where water could seep in and that is the mic. So, when you switch to waterproofing mode, the mic port is partly closed.

To switch back to normal mode, you have to spin the digital crown until you hear a sound that reminded me of R2D2 in Star Wars. The reason behind this sound is the mechanism which has been designed to push out any water in the watch at a certain frequency in the audio spectrum.

Apple Watch also handles notifications quite well. You can't see whole emails as in Android wears but you can see a brief description. There are plenty of options to reply to emails including voice, emoji, scribbling a message or sending a pre-defined template. The voice detection is pretty accurate and I'd suggest that you stay away from scribbling unless you want to pull your hair out. For cleaning all notifications, you have to 3D touch the screen or, in other words, press the screen long and hard.

The watch's performance is top-notch as Apple has implemented a new version of the processor chip named S2 for the second edition. It has also modified the watch's internal design to accommodate more battery power.

On an average, the battery has lasted a day and a half for me, with an average of 20 minutes of GPS tracking usage. With GPS tracking off, it could last for up to two days. The magnetic charger which comes with the watch can bump up the battery percentage in mere minutes. You can also switch to the low-power mode if required, and the watch will only be able to display the time.

Overall, Apple Watch is a great device for fitness enthusiasts but it is quite heavy on the pocket, with the second edition starting from ₹32,990. If you are okay with not having GPS tracking, you could opt for the older version, which has now been updated with the new chip, and is priced at ₹23,990.

Apple Watch Series 2 Review


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