The Apple Watch 2 has (1) a faster processor, (2) waterproofing, and (3) a much brighter display. The first is an unquestionable win. The first watch screams out for a faster processor. Even with watchOS 3 simple apps like Streaks are slow to launch and slow to react. The waterproofing seems less essential. The original watch is pretty well water resistant. However, I’ve found that swimming (and even showering) with it tends to trigger screen activations and taps, so it’s better to take it off for swimming anyway (though I wonder whether this was fixed on the new hardware?).
The brighter display seems totally unnecessary. I have my original Apple Watch screen on its dimmest setting, and I never have trouble seeing it, even in direct sunlight. In fact, the main problem I have with the display is when I accidentally trigger it at night: it’s too bright. Actually, the one feature I was most expecting from Apple Watch 2 was an ambient light sensor. This is what allows the screen on an iPhone to automatically adjust its brightness so it’s always readable but not blinding.
In day-to-day use, the constant screen brightness is one of the few things that keeps the watch from feeling completely natural and refined. Perhaps the next watch will have an ambient light sensor incorporated directly into the display.
In the patent, there are a few configurations through which Apple could execute the technology. One showcases the light sensors — which help the iPhone detect the ambient light in a room or outside — integrated directly above the touch-sensitive layer of the display (figure 6), while another has the sensor placed next to the touch-sensitive layer without intersecting it (figure 9).