eXtensions - Friday 21 October 2016

Cassandra: Apple Watch Series 2 Launches in Thailand

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Today the Apple Watch Series 2 goes on sale in Thailand and I have been looking at the device. The new lineup has the older Watch called the Series 1: same case but new insides; the Series 2 with new waterproofed cases in aluminium and stainless steel; and a ceramic version to replace the expensive gold versions.
In the year or so that the Apple Watch models have been on the market, Apple has learned some lessons which have been taken on board with improvements both to the hardware and the WatchOS. A lesson has perhaps also been learned about high end watches: their exclusivity is as much a part of the attraction as the investment price.

Functionality has been improved along with performance and their are added features for those who make use of the health and fitness applications on the Watch and the iPhone.

The original Watch used the S chip and the S2 now used in all versions has a dual core and enhanced GPU features, giving twice the speed for graphics. An early complaint had been the slowness, particularly when starting an app, but Apple feels they have dealt with this now. With some 18,000 apps now available for the Apple Watch, the device has far more possibilities.

Apple Watch Series 2

I was shown an example of how the graphics excel with an app Night Sky 4 that also uses the GPS that is new in this latest Apple Watch as well as the accelerometer. The screen shows the stars in the direction the user is facing (even during the day): the display is sharp and clear with twice the brightness compared with the original Apple Watch, at a claimed 1,000 nits (candlepower).

WatchOS 3 has added to the new feature set, for example with the Dock (the idea was taken from MacOS). This uses the button that had accessed Friends: now found in MessageKit. Several other additions, like SOS. An emergency call is made from the Watch and the number will change if you move country. This also sends a message to 3 friends. A particular value could be for older people who may be subject to falls: the iPhone may not be in reach, but the watch is on the wrist.

Apple Watch Series 2

Health and Fitness apps have been developed and many more are now available, allowing users to monitor their own performance and in some cases to compete with friends or family. As privacy is important, anyone (say a team manager) can opt out of sharing data, while monitoring team members.

As a way to reach out to more users and help them keep fit, a special function for wheelchair users is now available to make sure they stretch and move regularly. I am grateful for the reminders to stand and to breathe that are available to me. Cyclists and swimmers are also recognised and the activities apps can be set up to recognise these different types of exercise.

With 8GB memory the Watch can store local map data so users are able to ascertain their locations quicker than waiting for internet downloads. The route map available for workouts is colour-coded: green, red for slow pace and black dots when GPS is not available, such as when in a tunnel.

Swimmers of course, need water. The original Apple Watch was splash-proof: safe for me to wash the dishes, but the Series 2 Watch is swim-proof with water resistance up to IPX7 levels. That is good enough for 50 metre depths: the bath, snorkelling and shallow submersion, but not for scuba diving.

Apple Watch Series 2

Apple has a neat trick connected to the water proof features. To work, speakers need air; but the holes let water in. So a user sets the scene with a settings change - this also makes sure water splashes are not recognised as taps on the screen - and when the immersion is over, a short sound burst clears the water from the speaker housing.

Apple Watch Series 2

Prices in Thailand are:

    The Apple Watch Series 1 (with S2 chip) starts at 10,500 baht

    The Apple Watch Series 2

    • Aluminium starts from 13,900 baht upwards
    • Stainless Steel, from 20,500 baht up
    • Ceramic - only available in white - 47,500 baht up
    • Apple Watch Bands - prices start at 1,900b aht

As well as the new watches, Apple has sneaked in some new bands, so there are now more than 50 available now. I was told that local manufacturers of leather goods, could register with Apple and acquire the proper lugs so would be able to produce their own straps.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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