The Apple Watch is definitely a popular wearable device. Apple’s watchOS is also pretty good at what it does, especially compared to Android Wear. At Google’s I/O, the search engine giant gave their wearable OS a big overhaul that featured a whole bunch of new features.
Now, it’s Apple’s turn to strike back. Here’s what they’ve been up to with watchOS 3.
First off, Apple is giving the Watch a performance boost. According to them, the applications will launch 7 times faster than it would on watchOS 2. Currently, apps from our Apple Watch launch pretty quickly, the only thing slowing it down is the internet connection. Based on Apple’s demo, it looks like they’ve found a way to speed that portion of watchOS up too.
WatchOS 3 is really all about speed. Apple is introducing a brand new way to navigate between your applications on the Watch. It’s called Dock and it looks kind of like a recent apps or multitasking drawer that you can access by hitting the side button which is now also called the Dock button.
The difference is, you can decide what apps go on the Dock. Apps on the Dock are also live, so you can quickly glance through some of your favourite applications without needing to launch the application.
Apple is also packing in more familiarity to watchOS 3 with the addition of the Control Centre similar to that on other iOS devices. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the Watch and you will be greeted with toggles for stuff like notifications and flight mode.
With watchOS 3, Apple is letting you easily swap between watch faces. Simply swipe from edge to edge to switch to a brand new watch face in an instant.
Text input with wearable tech has always been a pain and it seems both Google and Apple think the best way to do it is with swipe controls. WatchOS 3 will come with a reply function called Scribble that lets you swipe out an entire message right there on the watch. We’re still a little uncertain that this is the right way to go, though.
Alongside the easier watch-face-swapperoo feature, Cupertino is also including two brand new watch faces — Numerals and Activity.
Activity is pretty self-explanatory as the watch face lets you keep track of your activities such as heart-rate and steps via activity rings. The overall watch face looks pretty sleek with colourful activity rings that let you easily identify what needs more work.
Numerals give you a more minimalistic look with a clean display featuring a more elegant design.
With the new Activity watch face, Apple is also giving the activity app Activity Sharing which lets you share your activity metrics with friends and family of your choice. Simply swipe to the right of your own activity rings and you can see the activity rings of your friends and family. From there, you can sort based on whatever metrics you want and even message your friends directly from the app.
WatchOS 3 is also more inclusive with better algorithms to track fitness for those that are confined to wheelchairs with more accurate movement tracking. Apple has also included a new emergency contact feature called SOS which will immediately contact emergency services when you hold down the Drop/Side button.
The best part about SOS is that it works internationally so no matter where you are, your Watch will know what number to dial. The only caveat is that you must either have your smartphone (with cellular connectivity) nearby, or have your Watch connected to the WiFi for it to work.
Apple has added a bunch of new APIs to watchOS 3 including support for Apple Pay on the Watch, allowing fitness apps to run in the background, Speaker audio and much more.
This update to watchOS is coming this fall and will be rolled out as a free upgrade to all Apple Watch devices. The company says that when the update comes, “it’ll feel like a whole new Watch”. Big claims, we’re excited to see if that’s the case.