Apple kicked off its annual developer conference by announcing the latest update to its smartwatch operating system, watchOS 3. Here are the six features we think are most important.
1. Improved performance
Apple says that watchOS 3 will be seven times faster than before, which is good because watchOS 2 was like, really, really slow. In the demo, app loading looked pretty slick, though the background data refreshing could wreak havoc on the Apple Watch’s battery. We’ll have to put it to the test later in the year when it launches in full.
WatchOS 3 is introducing the ability to draw with your finger right on the Apple Watch’s face and have your scrawls converted to digital text, a feature Apple is imaginatively dubbing Scribble. It could be pretty useful, especially if you’re always on-the-go.
3. Dock button
Apple is overhauling the Watch’s side button and rebranding it as the ‘Dock button’. Now, when you press it, your favourite apps will be automatically loaded. A simple improvement (and one that arguably should have been there a long time ago) but coupled with the aforementioned performance improvements, it should make the Apple Watch a much nicer piece of kit to use.
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4. Health and fitness
The Apple Watch’s fitness and activity tracking credentials have been massively bolstered with watchOS 3. You can now set activity faces to show on your watch face, there’s new social sharing functionality, and the next watchOS update will come with an all-new meditation app baked-in called Breathe which will recommend relaxation exercises based on your heart rate.
Apple’s watchOS 3 will come with a built-in SOS button that, when you’re paired with your iPhone on Wi-Fi, will let you call the emergency services with a single tap. Crucially, SOS will be location-aware, so your Watch won’t try to call 911 if you’re being attacked by Russian hooligans in Marseilles.
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Stay tuned for further updates from WWDC 2016 as we learn more about watchOS 3.