Apple has cornered the watch market, beating out even Rolex. The Apple Watch, after a rough launch, found a niche as a fitness tool. And now the brand is introducing the Series 3, which might just push the smart watch past being a fitness tool and into being something cool that we actually all want.
The big change is that it’s officially a standalone device with cellular service. That took some creative engineering: The Watch crystal is also a cellular antenna. It’s still tied to the iPhone; your Watch and iPhone share a phone number. And yes, it’ll pair to your earbuds and will work with Apple Music. It won’t blow away your laptop with just a dual-core processor, but it does have Siri enabled to speak. Cosmetically, there’s now a grey finish, and, of course, a giant pile of watchbands.
Apple is still focusing on the Watch as a fitness tool, though, opening their presentation today with a commercial featuring letters from fans talking about how they were more active. The Watch now has training features to help fitness fans complete more workouts, and pairs with gym equipment. Apple is also enhancing the heart-rate app, adding measurements like resting heartbeat, recovery heartbeat, and more data. It’ll alert you when you have an elevated heart rate but don’t appear to be active. Finally, it’s looking at heart rhythm — tuned to watch for arrhythmia, a leading cause of stroke. All of this is ramping up to the Apple Heart Study, which will be tracking Apple Watch data for heart irregularities in a project with Stanford. That’s an ambitious public health project, to put it mildly, and possibly a point of concern for privacy advocates. Either way, Apple Watch is aiming to be a part of America’s health future.
This might, in the end, be a bigger deal than the iPhone. That the Watch can come with you without needing your phone, and can deal with day-to-day problems like rain and wind. Durability just may be the thing that turns the Apple Watch from a cult product to something of genuine use. The idea of having a basic connection tool you can just strap to your wrist has been a dream for decades, and in our ongoing quest to unplug, while staying connected, this might be the device that makes it happen. The fully loaded Series 3 will be $399, or you can get it without the cellular for $299. It’ll be available September 22nd.