Apple has released the newest update to its watch, the Apple Watch Nike+. The new timepiece, in 38mm- ($369) or 42mm-wide ($399) models, is the latest innovation in the long line of running-related apparatus that Nike started producing in 2006, when runners could connect iPod playlists to devices embedded in their shoes.
“We have been working on this project in some way or another since day one,” said Stefan Olander, the head of Nike’s Digital Sport division.
The Series 2 is notable for its minimal design around a steel gray aluminum case and clean graphics on the small black mirrored face of the watch. It is markedly pared back in look and less complicated to use than other running-oriented watches.
“The other devices that are out there are pretty techy and geeky—so we wanted to remove everything that was a distraction and keep it clean, elegant and also let it be a delight to use,” Olander said. “We were looking at the aspiring runner and thinking about how can we design something that looked like an invitation to run.”
This next iteration includes all the same functionality as the Series 1 but adds a twice-as-bright display on the screen, plus extended water resistance to 50 meters and water-lock, which prevents false taps on the screen while washing dishes or swimming. It also has a series of weather updates, messaging, and health-monitoring enhancements along with updated routing maps for swimming and other off-road endeavors. One new program runs through a series of breathing exercises much as the type yogis use during meditation.
You use the Nike+ Run Club app to set the watch specifically to compare your weekly mileage against friends who have the same watch or to set alerts that tell you when to run, and how far, to reach fitness goals—the main idea being to give runners a sense of community even if they typically train alone. You can even activate little soundbite recordings from Nike’s current pet running ambassador Kevin Hart encouraging you along your run.
“One of the things that comes back loud and clear from feedback from our runners is that it’s not that easy to stay motivated—a lot of people need a little extra push,” Olander said. “Traditional watches are one-way interactions. They don’t really communicate with you. But we wanted to make this feel like a running partner.”
That part is certainly true, as I discovered on a four-mile jog along Manhattan’s East River this morning: Apple Watch Nike+ has built-in GPS system that tracks pacing, distance, heart rate and routes even if you don’t have your iPhone with you. (The two are synced in a lengthy process—too lengthy in my opinion; it took me 30 minutes—when you first buy the watch.)
Apple Watch Nike+ is the fourth version of the Series 2 Apple watch. It follows the Standard, Hermès, and Apple Edition versions that were launched earlier this year, and it is available in four color combinations involving black or white rubber sport-band style straps and gray aluminum cases, each with Nike trademark “volt” yellow or gray highlights. Buy it online or at Nike and Apple stores.