How to fix the Watch Sport in version 2 (Hint: GPS and Nike integration)

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Concept mockup: will Apple Watch 2 focus on runners needs?
Concept mockup: will Apple Watch 2 focus on runners needs?
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

Rumor has it that Apple Watch will get an update next year. There is already plenty of speculation about what cool new features Cupertino will add.

Personally, I’m hoping that the new watch will focus on fitness, so I’ve created a mockup concept to show what I’d like to see in the next generation of Apple Watch. I call it the Apple Watch GPS, Nike edition.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a mockup for Cult of Mac. I produced these visuals entirely using Adobe Illustrator. I have absolutely no insider knowledge, so this is all just idle speculation for fun.

Rebooting the Nike+ Apple partnership

Apple inspired me to get fit back in 2006 with the launch of the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. I’ve been a fan of the Nike/Apple partnership ever since. But in recent years, the partnership has dwindled, with Nike embracing Android and Apple opening their ecosystem to other fitness brands.

Recently, Apple has partnered with Hermes to produce a special edition Watch. I’ve never worn any Hermes gear. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say I’m not even sure how to pronounce Hermes. (Is that “s’ silent?) But what I like about Apple Watch Hermes is that it establishes the precedent for a joint-branded watch. A concept that could help to rekindle the old Apple-Nike magic.

Nike could provide band designs, while Apple could add a Nike-branded watch face and tighter Nike+ integration. With Apple’s support, maybe Nike+ could fix the dreaded double-lag that compromises so many third-party running apps.

As part of the deal, Nike could finally retire Nike Fuel, in favor of Apple’s Activity Rings. This would help clarify and provide focus to Nike’s digital strategy, which has seemed confused since the withdrawal of the FuelBand.

Nike’s retail channel, with its flagship Nike Town stores could provide valuable extra exposure and distribution for Apple Watch, driving far greater sales volume than Hermes could ever deliver.

Apple are always slimming their products
Apple are always slimming their products
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

A thinner watch body with more screen real estate

I’ve show the watch in space gray aluminum, because this seems to be the most popular finish. The body is 12% thinner than the current Apple Watch, which seems like a reasonable guess – Apple are always slimming down their products.

With less rounded edges, the screen can be a little larger (44mm instead of 42mm), without affecting the overall size of the watch. A larger screen is useful for runners, because it can be hard to see your stats when you are jogging along.

Concept mockup: If Nike made bands for Apple Watch
Concept mockup: If Nike made bands for Apple Watch
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

A Sport Band that looks sporty

The Sport Band is designed to compliment Nike sportswear. I think the current fluoroelastomer Sport Band looks a little fussy, so I simplified the shape with straighter lines, less tapering around the watch and less detail around the pin-and-tuck closure. Overall the band is slightly wider, and the pin shape I’ve changed to a lozenge.

Currently, the space grey Watch only comes with a black band, so I wanted to explore other color combinations that would work. These band designs each feature color contrasting fronts and backs – which is a tip of the hat to Nike’s classic SportBand, while the watch face resembles the Nike+ SportWatch GPS.

One band concept features a color blend from blue to black. This kind of graduated color is a trend I’ve picked up on in a lot of Nike’s current designs. I’m guessing Apple could produce it using the same molding process they developed for the Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power iMac back in 2001.

GPS and faster Bluetooth – all crammed into a smaller watch

I know it’s very easy for me to say I want more features in a smaller space. It is one thing to draw it. Quite another thing to build it. But hey, this is my fantasy Watch concept here, so let me have my fun.

Many people have predicted Apple will add more health sensors to their second generation Watch. But Tim Cook has recently made it clear that he does not want to have to put the Watch through FDA approval, and personally I think this would add less value for fitness users than simply adding GPS.

As I’ve previously argued, Cupertino’s wearable is currently not a good choice for serious runners. The built-in workout app lacks accuracy without an iPhone, and third-party apps suffer from a double-lag when you want to check your stats.

By adding built-in GPS, Apple Watch could leap ahead of the competition, offering 3D maps in the Activity app using Flyover, which could let you relive past glories by following your route in 3D on your iPhone.

Upgrading Bluetooth to the latest specs could also help to speed up communication between iPhone and Watch, which is currently holding-back some third-party running apps.

How this could slot into the overall product lineup

The strange thing about the current Watch lineup is that the most popular model is the Apple Watch Sport. This is presumably not because most people are using it for sport, but rather, because it is priced as the entry-level model.

It would make sense to rename the entry-level model simply “Apple Watch”. This could retain the design and specs of the current Sport model.

Apple Watch GPS could then be introduced as a tier above the Apple Watch, targeted at people wanting to use it for running, or those simply attracted to its slimmer design.

Personally, I’d scrap the “Edition” line, because it just doesn’t feel Appley. Which would give you a simple choice between an entry level Apple Watch and a premium Apple Watch GPS.

The mass market holds out for second-generation Apple products

Who knows what Apple really has up their sleeves for Apple Watch next year. (“Up their sleeves”… you see what I did there?) But if the iPhone and the iPad are anything to go by, it is usually when Apple launches the second generation of a product that things really get interesting.

iPhone really took off when the second generation model added 3G data and GPS. While the iPad 2 became a smash-hit with the addition of cameras and smart covers.

A lot of buyers are probably holding out on buying until Apple Watch 2 comes out next year. For those of us who have already spent serious money on a first-generation Watch, it would take a lot of convincing to upgrade so soon. But if Apple Watch 2 is anything like what I’ve described above, I’d get out my credit card in a heartbeat.

Deals of the Day

  • erivera

    Nike just needs to update their app and make it native on Apple Watch, Nike just got lazy and now there are plenty of better options out there.

  • Michael

    Apple could buy Nike (a la Beats) and use the Nike brand to design/sell smart clothing. That would really be something.