Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2016, 08:30
Category: Apple Watch, Developer, News, Software, Watch OS, Wearables
Amidst the hubbub of yesterday’s announcements, Apple unveiled watchOS 3, its upcoming operating system for the Apple Watch.
The new operating system seems to focuses on addressing comments made about the speed and responsiveness in previous versions of watchOS, including background loading of data, a quick-access Control Center, and new uses for the side button.
During the demonstration, watchOS head Kevin Lynch showed off the speed factor and explained that favorite apps will be kept in memory, background updates will pre-cache data, and apps will launch instantly.
Lynch showed off a third-party app on watchOS 2, then demonstrated how it will launch about seven times faster with watchOS 3.
The new operating system incorporates new functions for the side button, allowing quick access to apps through a new dock as well as when scrolling through the dock, apps are presented live, so they can be previewed without actually being opened.
Apple is also making it easier to change settings and access quick links on the Apple Watch with a new Control Center, borrowing the swipe-up gesture already found on iOS.
The new operating system allows for quicker access to text messages directly from the Apple Watch, with a series of quick responses instantly available. A new feature called Scribble also allows users to draw the characters they want to send for a message, and a text can be composed from a user’s wrist. Scribble works in both English and Chinese.
Apple is also planning to launch a series of new customizable watch faces in watchOS 3, including a fitness-focused one that presents activity rings in a large size, and a new Minnie Mouse option. watchOS 3 also makes it easier to switch between watch faces with a swipe.
WatchOS 3 also includes a new emergency feature called “SOS”, which can be invoked by pressing and holding the side button. Doing this can call 911 or emergency services over cellular or Wi-Fi. This will also notify emergency contacts with a map of the user’s current location.
Activity rings within watchOS 3 can also be paired with social functions, allowing users to share data such as step counts, calories burned, exercises and more from native and third-party apps. Activity tracking in watchOS 3 has also been updated to help users in wheelchairs in a more specialized manner. For example, the “Time to Stand” hourly alert on Apple Watch can be changed to “Time to Roll.” Movement tracking for different types of wheelchair mobility has also been programmed into the operating system.
Finally, Apple announced it is working on a deep breathing and meditation app called “Breathe” that will be included within watchOS 3. The app can track heart rate data and offer prompts to help users relax.
watchOS 3 was released to developers on Monday and will be available as a free update to all Apple Watch users this fall.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.