Apple Watch Series 2 Doesn't Answer the Biggest Question

SAN FRANCISCO — As an avid runner, the Apple Watch Series 2 is a big upgrade for me. I want one now. With built-in GPS, I'll be able to take the new wearable for a run and not wonder if it will guess wrong when calculating my pace and distance.

But based on my hands-on time at Apple's launch event, I'm not sure the other new features will make those who have been sitting on the smartwatch sidelines change their minds.

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The Apple Watch looks very similar to its predecessor, but the design has changed in two major ways. First, the screen is much brighter. We're talking 1,000 nits, so you should have no problem seeing this screen outdoors. That's key for looking at notifications or tracking exercise.

Second, the Apple Watch is waterproof. You can take this thing down to 50 meters without worrying a bit. Plus, Apple has added new exercises to help track your swimming workouts.

There's also a new Breathe app, which is designed to relieve stress through breathing exercises, and the Activity app now lets you share and compare to motivate friends and family.

However, when you get beyond fitness buffs, the Apple Watch becomes a tougher sell. The watchOS 3 software, set to arrive Sept. 13, is definitely more intuitive. Pressing the watch's side button immediately brings up a dock that makes it a cinch to change apps. It's also easier now to swap watch faces and customize them.

Thanks to a new S2 dual-core processor, the Apple Watch Series 2 definitely feels swifter than before. During a demo of the Night Sky app, which lets you see the constellations above you as you move the watch around, the new watch easily kept up with fluid animations.

What Apple didn't really answer today at its Sept. 7 launch event is why the masses should want a smartwatch. The company calls the Apple Watch 2 "the ultimate device for a healthy life" but a fitness tracker on steroids may not be worth $369 when you have the likes of Fitbit and Garmin stepping up their respective games.

At the launch, Apple also didn't mention the battery life of the Series 2, but buried on its website, the company says its second-generation smartwatch will last up to 18 hours — the same time as the original. However, when using its brighter display and GPS, expect that to be a lot shorter.

The Apple Watch Series 2 also doesn't really look as much like a watch as I'd like. It still has a shrunken down smartphone vibe to it. The stylish Samsung Gear S3 looks more like a watch, and it also offers built-in GPS, though some may be turned off by the larger 46mm size.

So, the Apple Watch Series 2 does indeed impress for those who are passionate about getting healthier. But the platform needs more killer apps to get everyone else excited.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.