The nascent smartwatch market still has yet to really take off, but that's not stopping Apple from spearheading the movement. The company has unveiled the Apple Watch Series 2, the successor to last year's Apple Watch (now called the Series 1).
The Series 2 maintains its predecessor's styling cues with a rounded-rectangle case that has a crown and a single button on the right side. That's roughly where the similarities end, though. Apple has revamped almost everything in the Watch's innards, starting with the screen. The new panel is incredibly bright—Apple claims it can shine at up to 1000 cd/m², potentially making the watch readable in direct sunlight.
The CPU inside the Watch Series 2 is now a dual-core model, and its companion GPU should be twice as powerful when compared to the previous model, too. The new Watch now includes a GPS receiver of its own, opening up new ways to use the device that don't rely on a companion iPhone. For example, some third-party hiking and running apps no longer require the user to keep an iPhone in their pocket. Japanese Series 2 Watches are further improved by the addition of support for FeliCa, Japan's take on NFC. FeliCa support in the Watch Series 2 and iPhone 7 means that Japanese Apple fans will get Apple Pay there starting in October.
Those aren't the only new big features, though. The Watch Series 2 is fully waterproof up to a depth of 50 meters, making it possible to swim while wearing it. In fact, sports and health are apparently two big focuses for the new device. Apple says the Watch's health tracking gear and algorithms have been improved, especially in the water, and it's also entered a partnership with Nike (which I today found out is apparently pronounced Ni-Key) to produce a sports-oriented version of the Watch Series 2 with a custom wristband and Nike-designed running apps.
Finally, the Series 2 runs Apple's watchOS 3, which should offer better performance on new and old devices alike, as well as improved notifications, messaging, new watch faces, and finger-writing recognition. Prospective buyers can get their wrists in the Apple Watch Series 2 on September 16 for $369 and up. Pre-orders will open in September 9. The Nike version will be available in late October for $369. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 1 will be retro-fitted with a dual-core CPU, and it'll sell for $269 from here on out.