Apple has announced a new version of the Apple Watch at its Special Event in San Francisco on Wednesday. The new Apple Watch will stay virtually identical in design, but have a big overhaul in terms of specs such as a faster processor, brighter screen, GPS, and now waterproofing up to 50m.
Like its partnership with Hermes for the fashion focused watch wearer, Apple has teamed up with Nike to create a fitness focused watch. But can it turn the Apple Watch into a fitness device? We had a preview of the new watch and a chance to see some of the dedicated Nike features at in the demo area after the main event.
Apple Watch Nike+: Designed to be sporty
The Apple Watch Nike+ is based on the company's Sport edition with a few tweaks - mainly that you'll get two specific Nike watch faces with dedicated buttons, and an exclusive option of four different straps that will only be available with the Watch Nike+.
Those straps use the same design language Nike used when it partnered with TomTom to create the Nike Sports Watch, and it's nice to see it reappear here some 5 years later.
The Nike Sport band is crafted from the same strong, flexible fluoroelastomer material as the original Apple Watch Sport Band, but now it’s perforated, presumably for better ventilation and sweat management. It also means the straps are a lot more flexible.
The band is available in four vibrant, two-tone colour combinations that are unique to the collection including our favourite a neon yellowish colour striking out from beneath a dark greyish strap.
It certainly looks the part. The bold lettering on the Nike app and Nike watch face ties in nicely with Nike's design aesthetics and it has a real sense of motion and movement about it. It says: I run, rather than I just like to keep moving.
The beauty here, unlike the original Nike Sports Watch from TomTom is that you can change the straps to something a little more "boardroom" if you aren't trying to show off your fitness credentials.
Apple Watch Nike+: Better app integration
Beyond the funky looking strap, Nike has worked with Apple to create a better fitness experience and in particular a quick way to access runs or other activities.
There are two new watch faces, a bold digital number one and a more refined traditional clock face, but both offer quick access to the Nike+ app.
Not that you need to press anything, it comes with support for Siri so you can tell it it's time to go running.
Once you're in the app it will count down the start and then you are off. The display gives you time, distance, pace, and BPM and you can jump through the relevant details at the press of a the screen.
At the end the watch spews out your data to see, and because of the now included GPS, you'll also get given a route of where you went including elevation.
Better still, because you've got the on board GPS, you don't need to worry about carrying your phone with you. Peace on the open road at last.
The app looks really good, and like the bands, is very reminiscent of the TomTom Nike Sports Watch, a watch that for a long time was the Pocket-lint go to running watch.
Beyond the running tracker and timer, Nike and Apple have also included in the Nike+ Run Club to try and push you further within the community.
For those that need it, the Nike+ Run Club app offers daily motivation through smart run reminders, challenges from friends and even alerts informing when the weather is right to get outside.
When you do get out for that run, the training data, including pace, distance and heart rate can then be shared to troll your friends by allowing you to send fist bumps to each other right from the wrist. Yes, that's supposedly going to be a thing.
Apple Watch Nike+: More than running, swimming too
The other major new feature Apple has added beyond the GPS is that the Apple Watch Nike+ is also waterproof upto a depth of 50m.
The waterproofing, which apple likes to refer to as "swimproof" means that you'll be able to jump in the pool or the lake to track your session.
We weren't able to test this in the desert of the demo room at the Apple Special Event, but it certainly looks interesting. There are two swimming modes, indoor and open water, and for the indoor you can set things like pool length so you can track your laps. Swim outdoors and the GPS will track your movement in the lake too.
We are certainly looking forward to getting it wet to see how it works in greater detail.
Apple Watch Nike+: Still an Apple Watch
The good news is that Apple hasn't taken anything away from the new Apple Watch Series 2 with the Apple Watch Nike+. You still get the new WatchOS 3, you get the ability to change straps, and you get the processor speed bump that is afforded to the new model. The screen brightness is certainly noticeable and that should prove handy on those gruelling sunny runs you've got planned.
The Apple Watch Nike+ looks great, has a really sporty feel, and feels really comfortable on the wrist. We like the design language of both the strap and the app, and are looking forward to giving it the full review treatment when it comes out in October.
We do have plenty of unanswered questions though that we are keen to find out. What's the battery life like when you're both running and using the GPS? How effective will Siri be in giving me data? Will it be able to give you audible alerts, how quick will it be to give you the data mid run, and other things like that.
What is clear, is that Nike and Apple look to have produced something that has the potential to make the Apple Watch a device that you would consider taking on a run, and considering the running experience on the first Apple Watch outing, that's a massive improvement.