During Monday’s WWDC 2016 keynote, Apple took time to unveil the latest version of the Apple Watch software – watchOS 3.0. Along with making the entire experience faster and easier, it also solves some notable problems with the wearable device. We’re highlighting some of the top features of the software.
Any apps in the Dock launch instantly.
By far the best new feature of the software is the Dock. Instead of the useless Friends Ring, pressing the side button now brings up a grouping of some of your favorite and most used apps. Just like with the now-extinct Glances, you can select exactly what remains in Dock using the Apple Watch iPhone app. Quickly scrolling through the Dock will show a snapshot of each app. Since each app in the dock is saved in the watch’s memory, a quick tap will launch it immediately. The layout is akin to the app switcher in iOS and on the Apple TV, and should be familiar to many more potential watch users.
Even apps that don’t stay in the Dock are loading substantially faster for me. And that is likely to get even better after more beta versions of the software are seeded and as third-party developers fully optimize their apps for the new software.
Instead of viewing Glances with a swipe up gesture, users will now see the Control Center that offers a nice amount of handy information like battery percentage and the ability to switch the watch into Airplane Mode or ping an iPhone.
More watch faces and customization options
Switching watch faces is much easier with a swipe gesture from the edge of the screen.
The number of watch faces and customization options are also growing. Some of the new faces include Numerals and two faces dedicated to highlighting your Activity information. Some of the other familiar faces, like Motion, Timelapse, and Photos, are also getting a needed boost with complication support. There are also a number of new Apple-produced complications.
Quickly switching between faces is now much easier. Instead of a Force Touch, simply swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to scroll through all of your face options.
I’ve stuck with the Modular option in most instances on my watch, but now that it is so easy to switch between faces, I’ve been rediscovering some of the other choices. While it’s not as great as support for third-party faces, it is a nice improvement that will surely please many users.
There is a new social aspect with the Activity Sharing feature.
Outside of notifications, one of the most popular features of the watch is the activity tracking and workout functionality. And Apple has added a number of goodies on that front as well.
Using the stock Workout app, you can view up to five different stats on the same screen – distance, pace, active calories, heart rate, and elapsed time. During a workout, the app will also automatically pause when making any quick stop on a run and start back up when needed.
The Activity app has also been revamped, and now features a great social element. As the name implies, Activity Sharing will let other users see how you’re progressing toward daily goals. You’ll be notified when friends or family finish workouts or earn different achievements. Using Messages, you can send everyone an encouraging message or talk some trash. Sharing is set up through the iPhone app.
Minnie is here to join her pal Mickey.
- With the companion iPhone Watch app, you can accomplish a number of new tasks like viewing all available watch faces and customzing each to your liking.
- You can now disable the ability to take screenshots
- With iOS 10 and watchOS 3.0, there is a new Find my Apple Watch feature on the iPhone app and iCloud.
- When you touch the Mickey or Minnie face, the iconic characters will tell you the time.
- The Heart Rate tracker is now a separate app.
- The new Home app in iOS 10 is also available through the Watch.
- If you delete a selected Apple app from your iPhone running iOS 10, it will also dissapear from the watch.
- The watch can be used to unlock any Mac running macOS Sierra.
- While not yet active in beta 1, a long press on the side button will automatically place a call to emergency services – anywhere in the world. The SOS feature will also send a message to your emergency contacts.
WatchOS 3.0 will more than likely arrive the same time as iOS 10.
While the first beta version of the software landed on Monday for developers, Apple said it should arrive to the general public sometime this fall – more than likely with iOS 10 and maybe even new watch hardware.
Overall, I’ve definitely been impressed with watchOS 3.0 in just a little more than two days of use. The third time might not be a charm, but it’s close.
Leave any questions you have about the new software in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @BrentDirks, and I’ll try to answer as quickly as possible.