When is Apple releasing watchOS? Will there be a public beta? What are the new apps and features? You have questions; we have answers!
Apple has just unveiled watchOS 3, the third full version of its Apple Watch operating system. It's available for developers now and everyone later this fall. There are loads of new features and goodies to check out, so here's everything you need to know about it!
Hold up, what's watchOS?
OS X is to the Mac, as iOS is to the iPhone and iPad, as watchOS is to the Apple Watch. It's the operating system and underlying software responsible for showcasing your clock face, powering notifications, launching and running apps, and pretty much everything you do on the Watch.
No special naming, like Mt. Fuji or something?
Nope. Apple has been moving toward a uniform naming of all of its operating systems, like tvOS, iOS, macOS, and watchOS. Oddly enough, the new macOS is called macOS Sierra. So Apple's not quite done with the nicknames.
So when are we getting it?
watchOS 3 will be available to the public on September 13.
We usually get new iPhones with a new version of iOS. Are we going to get new Apple Watches with watchOS 3?
As a matter of fact, we are. The Apple Watch Series 2 was also announced at Apple's Fall event. The biggest change is that the newer model is waterproof (like for swimmers) and there is now a ceramic white model. But, there are lots of great new features to get excited about
What about new bands? I want more pretty things!
There is are new Hermés bands that will launch with the Apple Watch Series 2: a single tour band with a deployment buckle and a double-buckle cuff.
Apple has teamed up with Nike for an exclusive Apple Watch Nike+, which has a perforated band and a case made out of lightweight aluminum
I've heard that watchOS apps will launch faster now. How is that possible?
It basically comes down to this; Apple held back on using up too much memory with earlier versions of the Apple Watch operating system until enough testing was done in the field. Now that the company has a better idea of how much memory apps need, memory is being freed up for important things.
Apple is using some of that extra memory to cache your most-used apps and extra battery life is being rerouted to background app refresh. That way, apps will load much faster when you open them.
What are some of the apps that can take advantage of the new watchOS 3 features?
Washington Post and Major League Soccer will launch instantly with information already up to date to keep big news front-and-center when you need it.
Field Day takes advantage of the advanced graphics tools in watchOS 3.
Sweat with Kayla and P90X have access to real-time heart rate information.
Ping will take advantage of the Apple Watch's gyroscope to help you perfect your swing.
ViewRanger GPS will take advantage of Apple Watch Series 2's GPS feature so you can track your hikes, even while you are off the grid.
Pokemon GO! That's right, Pokemon Go is coming to Apple Watch. You will receive notifications right on your wrist. You can combine your daily walking routine with catching Pokemon. If this doesn't get you out and walking, nothing will!
So I hear there are some new clock face options?
Yep! Minnie Mouse has her own Apple Watch face now, and you can customize her clothes to match your band of choice. There's also a new Activity watch face that can show you all your activity information at a glance. And last, but not least, Apple showed off the Numerals watch face, which it describes as "simple and elegant."
You'll also be able to add your favorite clock faces to a special dock and simply swipe to change them instead of having to firmly press to switch from one to another.
We'll be getting more complications for clock faces, including the ability to add weather complications to the Photos face!
Did Apple do something useful with the side button?
Goodbye, Friends. Hello, Dock! In watchOS 3, you'll tap the side button to bring up the Dock. You can swipe through the Dock to get at all your favorite and recently used apps, y'know, the ones that Apple says will launch instantly now. Sweet, sweet instant apps.
The side button is also where you will be able to access the SOS, emergency connection. SOS is a new feature coming to watchOS 3 that aims to assist people in emergency situations by giving them a way to easily contact emergency services and their emergency contacts. To use it, you will press and hold the Side button for a few seconds.
When you activate SOS, you will be directly connected to local emergency services. Additionally, a notification will be sent to emergency contacts that you have designated with your current location.
And what about all the new ways to communicate?
You'll learn a whole lot more about all the new ways to communicate in iOS from our iOS 10 FAQ, but specific to watchOS, you'll be able to scribble out words, letter-by-letter on the Apple Watch display and it'll be turned into text (incidentally, the feature is called "Scribble"). Also, Smart Replies are now included below a new message notification.
Similar to the iPhone, you'll be able to "tapback" on others' comments, view animated backgrounds, and use fun stickers.
My Apple Watch is my favorite fitness tracker. What new goodies does Apple have for me?
You're finally going to be able to share your Activity data with your friends, so you can compete and trash-talk as much as you'd like. Apple Watch features a leaderboard so you know who you have to beat and by how much.
When you're working out, you'll be able to see way more data. Be it distance, calories burned, heart rate, pace, or more, you can keep track of up to five data points at once.
Breathe in, Breathe out. watchOS 3 features a brand new guided-breathing app called Breathe. On-screen animations or Taptic taps — your choice — will guide you through the exercise. And much like stand notifications, you can set up Breathe reminders to stay zen throughout the day.
Apple worked with leading organizations to provide fitness data optimized for wheelchair users. Wheelchair pushes contribute to Activity data and wheelchair users are alerted with a "time to roll" reminder.
Someone was shouting on Twitter about "Auto Unlock" what's that?
AUTO UNLOCK AUTO UNLOCK AUTO UNLOCK. YES YES YES YES YES YES! #WWDC2016— Mikah Sargent (@mikahsargent) June 13, 2016
That's right. Your Apple Watch will be something similar to a fingerprint scanner, in a way. When you are using a Mac running macOS Sierra, you'll be able to use your Apple Watch to unlock it. It is more secure than traditional Bluetooth Trusted Objects, because once your Apple Watch leaves your wrist, your Mac will lock back up.
You'll need an iCloud account with two-factor authentication set up in order to take advantage of Auto Unlock for additional security.
Apple also announced that Find My Friends will be on Apple Watch and the Reminders app is coming to our wrist, complete with the ability to check things off.
That's everything you need to know about watchOS 3. What are you most excited about? Let us know on any and all of the socials.