At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference today, the company announced watchOS 2, sporting a number of new features for Apple Watch, as well as a new Watch SDK that will allow third-party developers to build native apps that run directly on the watch, rather than as an extension of a paired iPhone app. Developers will now be able to write their own complications to effectively design custom watch faces that provide an ability to quickly glance at app-specific information. A new “Time Travel” feature will allow users to rotate their digital crowns to quickly and easily view time-based information on their Watch face, such as a future weather forecast or upcoming appointments. “Nightstand Mode” will allow the Watch to display the time and other information in a sideways orientation when the device is plugged in and charging, including adding an alarm clock feature and using the side button as a snooze button.
Additional enhancements allow friends to be added directly on the Watch’s friends list, and Digital Touch drawings can now be done with multiple colors. Emails can be replied to, and FaceTime Audio support is being added so users can place and receive phone calls right from the user’s wrist. Native third-party fitness apps will also now be supported, with the ability for workout data to contribute directly to the built-in activity monitoring apps. Siri has also been enhanced in watchOS 2, allowing users to start workouts by voice, control HomeKit devices, and request specific glances. The mass transit feature in iOS 9 will also come to watchOS 2, allowing users to get departure times for nearby stations at a glance, and step-by-step walking directions to get to a nearby transit station as part of the overall transit routing.
The watchOS 2 SDK will be available to developers today, while the Apple watchOS 2 update will be released in the fall as a free update for all current Apple Watch devices.