Apple previews watchOS 2 for the Apple Watch
Apple has just previewed a brand-new OS for the Apple Watch. Just six weeks after the launch of the Apple Watch itself, watchOS 2 packs in tweaks and performance enhancements in every area of the operating system.
“We are thrilled with the feedback we’re getting from Apple Watch customers, and after just a few weeks of availability we’re excited for developers to start building native apps for watchOS 2,” said Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of technology. “We think Apple Watch users will love being able to see information from their favourite apps right on the watch face, and enjoy the many new experiences developers will dream up now that they have access to even more innovative features of Apple Watch.”
Apple’s new OS gives users even more choice when choosing a watch face. Apple Watch owners can now choose between a static photo, a cycling photo album or even a time-lapsed, location-based image.
With the release of ClockKit, Apple has also opened up the Complications of watchOS 2, so developers can now place their own, dedicated widgets directly onto the Apple Watch’s face. During Apple’s WWDC event, an Apple Watch was shown running a Complication from Volkswagen alongside airline and temperature widgets.
Apple has also introduced Time Travel to watchOS 2, and it provides a whole new way to check your schedule. Rather than simply notifying users about current events, Time Travel allows users to fast-forward, and check events and weather in the future – all by using the Digital Crown.
The new operating system also changes how the Apple Watch acts when it’s not on your wrist. Nightstand mode displays the time in a landscape format when the Apple Watch is on charge, and can even act as an alarm clock.
watchOS 2 also improves the communication capabilities of the Apple Watch. Friends can now be sorted into groups, and Apple Watch owners can now use more than one colour in Digital Touch – the Apple Watch’s doodling tool. Of course, Apple has also crammed in more productive features. The new OS allows users to reply to emails directly from the Apple Watch, and FaceTime Audio calls can now be taken from the wearable too.
Health and Fitness
Thanks to watchOS 2, the Apple Watch now enjoys greater synergy between third-party health apps and Apple’s own HealthKit API, so calories burnt on more specialist apps will now be automatically imported to HealthKit. What’s more, Siri is now able to start workouts by voice command, so users won’t have to fiddle with their wrist before a run.
Many of the improvements already announced for Apple Pay are about to be carried over to the Apple Watch. As well as contactless payments in the UK, the Apple Watch now features Wallet – Apple’s rebranded app for everything contactless. This means owners will be able to store loyalty cards and debit cards on the Apple Watch – and collect reward points using their wrist.
Siri also benefits from new innovations shown across Apple’s ecosystem. The digital assistant can now use Apple’s improved Maps service with public transport, and control elements of Apple’s new HomeKit API – allowing users to control compatible products in the home with their voice. Siri in watchOS 2 will also show specific Glances, with commands such as “Siri, show me the Instagram glance,” taking users directly to the Instagram app.
New to watchOS 2 but present on iOS for the past few years, Activation Lock makes the Apple Watch less of a target to potential thieves. Although it’s still possible to easily wipe an Apple Watch, it can now only be restarted with the correct iCloud details. This makes it less of a target for thieves who want their own Apple Watch, and will also keep your data safe.
watchOS 2 also offers some significant changes for developers. Thanks to the latest WatchKit, developers now have access to key parts of the Apple Watch’s hardware. As a result, future apps will be able to take advantage of the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine, heart-rate sensor, accelerometer and microphone. What’s more, the new WatchKit also features new APIs that allow third-party software to take advantage of audio and video playback on the Apple Watch.
Unlike current apps, which use the iPhone for the “logic” or heavy-lifting of apps, Apple’s new OS also allows developers to give the Apple Watch processing duties instead. These apps will work even when the Apple Watch isn’t near an iPhone – as long as it’s connected to a known Wi-Fi network.