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watchOS 2 – WWDC 2015

watchOS 2:

Apple's watch hasn't even been out for six months and it's already receiving a substantial update. The new functionality it will gain will make it an even more desirable product, all thanks to watchOS 2.

The Watch Face

With watchOS 2, Apple has added even more watch faces, including time-lapse views of famous cities and the ability to use your own personal photos as backgrounds. The time-lapse watch face allows you to pick a city such as London or Hong Kong and see what that city looks like at whatever time of day it happens to be. Glance at your wrist to see it’s 10:00 and get an accompanying picture of Shanghai at 10:00 as well. No interest in cityscapes? Choose a photo album to be your watch face and get a different picture from that album each time you look at your wrist.

apple watch time-lapse

Another addition to the watch face is the ability for developers to make custom complications. Complications are little informative additions to the watch face. The sunrise/sunset complication for example, gives you the added information of knowing what time sunrise/sunset will be. Until now, this ability has been limited to Apple itself. Now we can have custom complications that show us flight info, the charge status of an electric vehicle, or a button to open your garage door, all from your watch face itself.

The last addition to the watch face is time travel. Using the digital crown you can move time either forward or backward, and consequently, the information your complications display will also progress through time. This way you can not only see your next calendar event, you can see what’s coming up after that. Quite handy.

Native Apps

apple watch complicationsThe biggest complaint about the Watch is usually related to speed. The lag or delay between opening an app and getting a response is sometimes so great, the watch app is unusable. This is due to the fact that the processing and gathering of information happens on the iPhone itself. The information pulled from the phone then must travel via bluetooth, to the watch, then to your eyeballs. This makes things slow. Especially if the app has anything to do with location. In order to remedy this, Apple is allowing developers native access to the watch. This means that third party apps can run directly on the watch itself, instead through the iPhone middle man. This will significantly increase the speed of apps on the watch.

Apple is also opening up the hardware to third parties. Previously developers did not have access to the digital crown, haptic engine, accelerometer, heart rate sensors, speaker or microphone. With watchOS 2, this will not be the case. This alone will make the watch infinitely more functional. Allowing developers to access the watches full potential will finally provide the “killer app” the Watch desperately needs.

Notable Mentions

Before, you could read email on an Watch, and now with watchOS 2, you can reply to mail through dictation as well.

Apple Pay also receives it’s respective upgrades, including the ability to store rewards cards, so you can pay for your Starbucks and earn points for it as well.

Lastly, and most importantly, watchOS 2 includes activation lock. If your watch is lost or stolen, it will lock itself and will require your Apple ID username and password to unlock. Essentially the watch will be worthless unless activated, hopefully deterring prospective thieves.

I believe many of these features should have come with the watch to begin with, but beggars cannot be choosers. At least Apple is kind enough to open up the watch to developers who will really take advantage of it’s full potential with watchOS 2.

apple watch activation lock

-Daniel

-Shatter Buggy, Denver