The Apple Watch has only been on the market for a short while, officially launched this past April. However, it’s already due for a software overhaul as Apple announced the new watchOS 2 during its Special Event last week. Along with some new cases and bands, the new operating system for the Apple Watch was the key highlight.
While the wearables market is still relatively small (sales are in the tens of millions compared to the hundreds of millions smartphones being picked up each year). Nonetheless, the growing market should not be overlooked, as the compact designs and on-the-go functions of wearable techs holds a popular place in the landscape of interactive digital mobile devices.
Although the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus stole the show during Apple’s event, the watchOS 2 wasn’t far behind. At first glance, the model’s exterior is same as its predecessor. Its new operating system seeks to improve the watch’s overall usability, but what’s the margin? We take a closer look at it for you and tell you what we enjoyed.
The Watch boasts a new Nightstand function that allows you to continue using your watch even when you’re clocking out for the day. By placing the watch on its side connected to the charger, you’ll activate the new mode that acts like a traditional alarm clock. Tapping the face or Digital Crown in the night will illuminate a new digital display, and alarms can be turned off by clicking the Crown.
The Watch’s face also features a new function, called Time Travel. By turning the Digital Crown on the Watch face, you’re now able to “travel” through your schedule — in the past and the future. This offers a much more intuitive and useful function to the Digital Crown. This will allow you to check what the weather will be like in a few hours, or what happened a few hours ago.
watchOS 2 is introducing more faces, the first thing you see when you flip your watch. Our favorite is the improved ability to see what you want on your Modular watch face with Complications. Complications will allow other apps to show what’s important right on the watch face, for example, breaking news, upcoming flights, world time zones. This allows the watch to complement your life with what you need and want to see — streamlined to your needs.
Additionally, there’s also something new for those who don’t need to see everything right away. Time-Lapse faces include a selection of beautiful videos shot over a 24-hour period, depicting cities around the world. You now also have the option to choose your own photo or album to use as a face.
Better Applications with Native Support
Wearable technology is still considered a superfluous accessory, but its full range of capabilities have definitely not come to fruition yet. Despite this, the device holds boundless potential, and this lies mostly within its software capabilities.
How does improved software capabilities shine? In its range of applications, of course. Much like your smartphone, apart from its general functions the phone’s true range of abilities are a result of stellar apps that complement and benefit one’s life, offering much more than just a phone. Similarly, the Apple Watch is made better through apps that are truly necessary and complementary to one’s life.
Admittedly, the first watchOS of the Apple Watch was mediocre, at best. The watch itself was an impressive device, convincing many who were skeptical of wearables to at least give it another look. However, its novelty quickly wore off, because there wasn’t much about the watch that made it a necessary addition. Apart from its fitness tracking capabilities, the apps available to the watch were redundant — who really needs to check Instagram on it? Quickly, glances at the Apple Watch reverted back to picking up the iPhone, where applications were much more useful and streamlined.
watchOS 2 will further allow for the creation of better and more useful apps, as developers are now able to create native apps. Previously, all apps were tied to the iPhone, and thus, restricted the range of possibilities. Coupled in with the tiny amount of real estate on its interface, developers lacked the incentive to create cutting edge apps due to so many factors hindering their creativity.
Additionally, developers will be able to take advantage of the Taptic Engine, Digital Crown, accelerometer, heart rate sensor, microphone and speaker. This allows for an entirely new range of possibilities that were not available in the first watchOS. For example, newly developed native apps such as Ping uses the accelerometer to measure the speed of your golf swing, while Insteon lets you use the Digital Crown to control your houselights, and Strava uses the heart rate sensor for data during workouts.
Now, we’ll be able to see many more innovative applications covering all areas which has the potential to completely overhaul the way we use the Apple Watch.