Let’s call it what it is: a fitness tracker.
The Apple Watch Series 2 is exactly that. It’s what Apple had resisted calling its wearable for the past year and a half, even declining to categorise it as such when citing industry rankings, opting for the “smartwatch” category instead. It is, definitely, still a smartwatch. But the Watch now has focus, and that’s a good thing.
From the first Apple Watch, which came out in April of 2015, Apple learned that lots of people were using it primarily for health and fitness-tracking purposes. They had been groomed by years of Fitbits and Jawbones and Garmins and Polars and “smart” scales and the whole notion of the quantified self, which promises self-betterment if you could just get a handle on your personal data. Apple learned that people will pay for technology that promises an escape from technology, even if only for 30-minute sweaty increments of time.
The first Apple Watch was a traditional first-gen Apple product: elegant in its design, but lacking key components; a more intuitive interface than a lot of its competitors had to offer, but glitchy and with slow-to-load apps. But Apple is rich and influential enough that it can miss once and still get a do-over, something not every tech company gets. Apple can afford to iterate. And it has.
The Apple Watch is now both more and less of the things it was trying to be. The addition of GPS and better water resistance make it more of a fitness tracker. The new, distilled software means it doesn’t have ambitions of acting like a “smartphone replacement,” and instead it feels more like a useful accessory. Is it as essential as the smartphone? No, it may never be. But it now makes a little more sense as part of the Apple ecosystem.