Apple Watch OS 2: Dozens of minor changes to make one major impact


The Apple Watch may be a wee two-months-old, but it’s not too young for a facelift. Various changes and enhancements are hitting the device in the form of an updated operating system, watchOS 2, come autumn. The newest set of innovations and upgrades for the Apple Watch were revealed on Monday at the company’s WWDC 2015 developer conference (which took place in the same space as Google I/O did a mere two weeks ago).

While watchOS 2 won’t be available for some time, it will bring native apps to the device, meaning you can be untethered from your iPhone when using the Watch — an announcement which received uproarious applause from the WWDC audience. And to get the creative juices flowing, the software developer kit became available at the time of the keynote, giving developers a few months’ head start on work.

We’ve compiled the highlights of the information Apple’s Kevin Lynch walked through during the keynote, from complications to Time Travel, Apple Pay, and much, much more.

Timepiece

  • New watch faces: The watch will be capable of handling new home screen settings. Photos and photo albums can be displayed as a solitary image or as a slideshow. There is also a setting for certain cities that will display a 24-hour time-lapse of that city’s skyline or iconic landmark.
  • Complications: Developers can now create their own complications, allowing additional information to be shown on the home screen.
  • Time Travel: With a little turn of the watch’s digital crown, you can go forward or backward in time to see future or past events.
  • Nightstand mode: There will be a specific nighttime display for when your watch is charging at night. This mode will feature a necessary new alarm setting.

Communication

  • Friend circles: You can find recent and favorite contacts much faster with multiple circles of friends.
  • Email: Reply to an email immediately when you receive it on the Watch.
  • Facetime Audio: The Watch now supports a higher quality connection of Facetime Audio.

Health and fitness

  • Workouts: Without having to touch a button, Siri can now start workouts for you based on past experience, time, amount of calories to burn, etc.
  • Badges: When you reach goals or accomplish exercise objectives, you will receive badges that are shareable with people in your networks.

Apple Pay

  • With the help of the new Wallet app, Apple Pay will be featured on Apple Watches with the goal of making payments even easier. Store and loyalty cards will be supported.

Transit

  • This new addition to Maps will allow users to see other options of transportation right on their wrist. Whether you commute by train, bus, subway, or ferry, Apple says the Transit app will get you to your destination much faster.

New apps

  • HealthKit: This app will allow users to see their health data in real time. Now when you’re working out, you’ll be able to see streaming information like heart rate and progress.
  • HomeKit: Even though this was breezed over, this app is a total game changer. Come this fall, you (with the help of Siri) will be able to control HomeKit devices from wrist; change the temperature, lock your doors, and even turn off your faucets.

Everything else

  • Audio/Video: Both can now be played back on your watch screen.
  • Microphone: This can now be accessed to record what you hear or what you say.
  • Accelerometer: For those who play golf or need to record speed, the Accelerometer can now record your tempo while you play.

Overall, there are many little updates that are going to put Apple miles ahead of their competitors. Now — will the added capabilities will be enough to keep the future market interested in buying the device? Only time will tell. (Pun irresistibly intended.)

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