During today’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, Apple’s VP of Technology, Kevin Lynch took the wraps off watchOS 3, the next generation of the company’s operating system for its wearable device. Available today as a developer preview, and scheduled for public release in the fall, watchOS 3 will significantly enhance the speed at which favorite apps load and update information on the device. The update also features other notable UI changes such as the removal of Glances in favor of a new “Dock” that users can access from the side button to access favorite apps with live previews of each. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen in watchOS 3 will now display a Control Center instead of the prior Glances view, and watch faces can be switched by swiping left to right from the edges of the screen.
The Messages app in watchOS 3 has also been enhanced to allow for faster responses, omitting the “Reply” button in notifications and providing users with direct access to canned quick replies. A new “Scribbles” feature will also allow users to manually enter text in both Chinese and English. New apps have been added, including Reminders and Find My Friends, the latter providing background update support to provide quick access to friends’ locations, and three new watch faces have been added, including an Activity face, minimalist “Numerals” face, and Minnie Mouse face, which also includes colors to match the standard Sport watch bands.
Activity and Workouts have also been improved, adding the ability to share Activity progress with friends, along with features and optimizations for wheelchair users — replacing “Stand” goals with “Roll” goals, for example, and customizing techniques to accurately track the type of motion activity used in a wheelchair. A new Breathe app has also been added that will guide users through deep breathing exercises to relax and reduce stress, providing notifications when it’s time to breathe (similar to “Stand” notifications), and visual or haptic feedback. Activity Sharing also provides Messages integration to allow users to not only see Activity rings for family and friends, but send canned messages of encouragement or challenge.
A new “SOS” feature adds the ability to quickly and automatically place a call in the event of an emergency to the appropriate emergency response services via the connected iPhone, while also notifying a set of predetermined contacts of the user’s location and medical ID from the Health app. Developer enhancements in watchOS 3 include in-app Apple Pay support, the ability for workout apps to update in the background, improved graphics support, native event support from Digital Crown and touch gestures, embedded audio and video, and Game Center and CloudKit support for apps.