WatchOS 3 Preview – 13 Reasons To Love The New Apple Watch OS
WatchOS 3 was recently made available to developers for beta testing, and that means that the third instalment of Apple’s watchOS operating system is well and truly upon us and is coming off the shelf sooner rather than later.
The announcement of its imminent release was made at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC 2016) back in June, and, as suggested on Apple’s website, the software could be available in fall this year, around the same time the iPhone 7 comes out.
Unlike iPhone 7, however, which is purportedly (almost honestly) a renamed 6s Plus, the WatchOS 3 on paper is a complete overhaul of the WatchOS 2, which was launched in September 2015. You’ve probably heard that it’s going to be seven times faster in app-launching, but that’s just a fraction of what’s is on the stocks for your Apple Watch.
We are going to take you through an in-depth review of the operating system, hoping you will find some time to tell us what you think about Apple’s new product and also get the chance to hear from those who have already installed the beta in the comment section at the bottom of the page. We are going to particularly home in on the new features.
So what’s new?
Price when reviewed: $399
1. WatchOS 3 Speed and Performance
Two times faster than WatchOS 2 would already count as impressive. But this is seven fold, and it’s befittingly earning the talking point award for this new product. And just in case you’re a little distrustful (which is absolutely plausible, by the by, considering how much lied to we have constantly been by these manufacturers) the beta version is proving the bold statement right; the speed has massively increased, and third party apps are launching as fast as in-built ones.
The system will basically come with a functionality that will have apps and information preloaded in the background such that booting will be instant the moment you tap on them.
2. The New Dock
How effective do you find the hexagonal grid in finding recently and frequently visited apps on your watch? Well, the new dock is making that quicker and a lot much better. Just by severally pressing the side button – which is currently used to display the friends’ list – you get to switch between up to ten of the apps you opened recently or have been using frequently. That’s more like every app that’s useful to you.
3. Watch Faces
With WatchOS 2, switching your Apple Watch faces is incontrovertibly quick and seamless. But still, it has nothing on the WatchOS 3 with which you can switch watch faces with a single swipe on the screen. The popular Minnie Mouse is being added to your face options too together with such elements as the weather which you can tone it up with.
4. A Refashioned Control Center
The control center has undergone a thorough refurbishment, which to all appearances comes as a constructive one. The new Dock means there will be no use for Glances and, consequently, the ‘swipe up’ gesture, which has now been dedicated to the Control Panel. Such functionalities as Find My iPhone, AirPlay, Airplane mode, silent mode, do not disturb etc. have been brought a few clicks and swipes closer with the switchover.
Apple have also introduced a new safety feature called SOS through which you can call 911 in less than ten seconds by holding down the side button. The call will take place through your phone’s cellular connection or the watch’s Wi-Fi if mobile data isn’t available. According to Apple, the functionality has been designed to memorise the correct emergency numbers for all countries in the world without the need to adjust settings.
Information automatically reaching the authorities will include your current location, age, allergies, weight and other medical information that you may be willing to share.
6. New Apps
You have probably heard about the new app Breathe, which we are going to discuss more about below, but there is more to the updated app compendium. Find My Friends has been watch-optimised and will now let you pry into your friends’ and families’ whereabouts at any given time even without your iPhone or tab. Reminders has also been included, and this, just like on your phone, keeps you posted on your to-do items by displaying them and letting you check them off.
7. What’s WatchOS 3 Breathe?
Like the name suggests, Breather is an app that has everything to do with breathing. It guides you through relaxation breathing exercises with the help of the same wrist taps the watch uses for notifications. Once you’re through with a session, the app displays to you your heart rate and relaxation time in summary form, just to prove it works.
The new app can be accessed through the home screen, the Dock or Reminders.
8. Activity Tracking… and Sharing
Albeit virtually fully equipped, Apple Watch is not considered by many as the ultimate pick for fitness tracking. Instead, the more specialized Jawbone and Fitbit lines of products are preferred, plausibly thanks to their activity sharing capabilities. Mark you, these manufacturers are beginning to encroach facilities typically bracketed under smartwatches, and that poses a legit threat to Apple Watch and its chief stronghold.
In retaliation, Apple have also been on a constant dig into their rivals’ space, and that has been underscored with the inclusion of Activity Sharing in the WatchOS 3. You can now let your friends and family in on how you’re faring apropos fitness as well as be able to view their headway on your watch. It only needs a right swipe on your activity ring, and there you can choose whom you would like to share your data with.
The communication is enabled by yet another enhancement which sees the Messages app integrated with the new operating system. This sure brings Apple Watch a few light years closer to Fitbit who are busy out there setting the pace.
Activity tracking for wheelchair users has also undergone a major reconstruction with “time to roll” alerts replacing the “time to stand”. With WatchOS 3, your watch can track your pushes in different ways all of which will be displayed in the activity rings.
9. The Workout App
With WatchOS 3, you can start a workout without setting a goal using the Quick Start button. Also, the screen force touch option to pause, end or resume a workout has been replaced with an easier left swipe. As regards display, it’s hard to tell whether the update is an improvement really or just an unnecessary alteration (we would like to hear your opinion about this). The distance, speed, calorie and heart rate metrics are now visible on one screen, unlike on WatchOS 2 where they are displayed in fragmented screens you have to swipe through.
For the workout buffs, there is even more; you no longer need to run your sweaty fingers over the screen to pause or resume the app during, say, a jog. There is a new feature that does that automatically the moment you go inactive or resume running again. And if you raise your arm to view your progress, the watch will automatically light up to display the stats of the active fitness app.
10. Third Party Fitness Apps. Will They Be Easier to Launch?
Like we stated earlier, you will barely notice a difference between built-in and third-party apps. What happened is that Apple made all of its sensors open to third party developers conceivably after realizing that there are quite a host of competent apps out there that users would fancy over Apple’s own products. In the fitness department, favourites such as MapMyRun, Runkeeper and Runtastic can now utilise the accelerometer, gyroscope etc. to bring you real time stats on heart rate and other data.
On a slightly different note, third party developers are also allowed access to Apple Pay, which means they can provide you with in app purchases courtesy of Apple’s system.
11. Complications Ameliorated
Complications were first tried out in WatchOS 2 to let third-party developers perk up your watch’s screen with petty additions such as your iPhone’s data usage, weather updates and news alerts. They were full of flaws though. First, they were limited to a bunch of watch faces. Secondly, they were too slow to the extent that thinking about launching an app from them was a rash idea.
In the WatchOS 3, they can be added to a few more watch faces including Extra Large, Timelapse, Motion and Photo.
The Messages app has been made better and more efficient with quite a range of changes in WatchOS 3. Hitting the reply button is no longer mandatory when you want to reply to a message.
You can tap on the microphone icon to do it verbally or just scroll down to respond with one of your prewritten smart messages. You can also tap on the smiley face for a quick emoji reply or the heart icon (exclusive to WatchOS 3) to share your heart rate.
If none of those suits you, then Scribble – a new reply option – is the only other resort. This one lets you handwrite your message on the screen, and tap ‘send’ after it gets converted to text. It comes in quite handy when you are in the midst of an activity such as running or are committed somewhere but still want to send a short message reply.
Also, when you are in a public place and can’t dictate some messages out loud, Scribble makes for a perfect deputy. You may however find it unhelpful with sentences and longer replies.
Messages on WatchOS 3 will overall be near identical with their mobile version in iOS 10 with large emoji, confetti, stickers and Invisible Ink among the new additions. Invisible Ink, for the record, lets you compose and send a message which will be disguised in distorted display on the recipient’s gadget until they swipe over it.
13. Unlock your Mac Using your Apple Watch
The feature allows you to sync your watch with your Mac such that you can unlock a Mac, display information and authorise payments directly from your watch right from your wrist. The only problem with this feature is that it has not been introduced in the Mac yet although there is a chance it could be available before the official launch of WatchOS 3.
How to Install WatchOS 3 beta
To download the latest update, WatchOS beta 4, with the beta 3 already installed, just visit Watch app on your iOS 10 beta 4 iPhone and follow the instructions. If this is the first beta you’re laying your hands on, you must install a certificate on your watch first before proceeding to download the software to your iPhone whence you can transfer it to your watch. The certificate can be found at developer.apple.com.
With the certificate installed, your iPhone – via the Watch app – will automatically detect the availability of WatchOS 3. Reboot your watch if it doesn’t.
Once it’s detected, follow these steps:
- Launch the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap on the My Watch tab;
- Click on General;
- Tap on Software Update;
- Tap on Download and Install;
- Enter your iPhone Passcode ; and
- Agree the terms and conditions.
I noticed an improvement on the installation part too; you can set about the whole procedure without necessarily caring about your watch’s battery percentage. Also you don’t need to have the watch connected to its magnetic charger to start the installation. We have not yet confirmed if this is so for everyone but you can share your experience with us in the comment section if you already have the software in your Apple Watch.
WatchOS 3 is an implicit admission by Apple that WatchOS 2 was a near fail. Virtually every feature has been bettered and its fitness tracking capabilities are now catching up with Fitbit’s. Of course as a smartwatch, Apple Watch had provided us with what we would term us unprecedented features but its price always made the whole thing somewhat of a rip-off.
The WatchOS 3 seems like that answer every Apple Watch user has been looking for. And for starters, we have not talked about the price because this is just a software update which will be made available for free once the official launch takes place. Only the beta is available now.
There is a rumour that the Apple Watch 2 will be available in stores around the same time the WatchOS 3 is launching. You may want to wait for that if you haven’t bought an Apple Watch for yourself yet. It sure must be optimized to bond well with this new software.
Feel free to leave your comment below, share your observations and add whatever you feel we may have left out. You can also leave your question, and we will get back to you pronto!