Preview at WWDC likely in June, followed by September launch.
Apple Announces watchOS 2 With Native Apps, Third-Party Complications, and More
With watchOS 2, Apple Watch apps are going to see some major improvements. Developers will be able to build apps that run entirely on the Apple Watch, speeding up launch speeds, and they're also getting access to a whole host of Apple Watch features.
Developers have access to the Taptic Engine, to build haptic notifications into third-party applications, and they're also getting access to sensors like the accelerometer and the heart rate sensor. That means third-party apps will be able to track your movement and heart rate, contributing that data to the Activity app on the Apple Watch. Apps can also now access the microphone and play videos.
Apple is introducing new watch faces, with the ability to turn a photo or an album into a watch face. When you select an album, you'll see a different photo from that album each time you raise your wrist. Apple's also debuted a new Time Lapse watch face, which shows iconic locations around the world shot over 24 hours when you look at your watch. With the London Time Lapse, for example, if you look at your watch at noon, you'll see London at noon.
Third-party Complications are also a major new feature, letting developers build Complications for watch faces that allow users to quickly get quick looks at information like flight times, sports scores, the charge level of an electric car and more. Additionally, users can now spin the Digital Crown to access a new feature called Time Travel, which allows users to see future Complications information like what the weather will be like later in the day.
WatchOS 2 is gaining a new Nightstand mode that can be activated while the watch is charging, which displays the time and includes alarm clock features. New communication features include the ability to add more than 12 friends and the ability to send sketches in multiple colors. It'll also be possible to reply to Mail messages using dictation, and FaceTime Audio is supported.
Siri's gaining some improvements, including the ability to start workouts with commands like "Go for a 5-mile run" or "Go for a 300-calorie bike ride." Siri can also bring up glances for users now in watchOS 2, and can access Transit directions.
Some of the new updates to iOS 9, which include Transit directions and store credit and debit cards in Apple Pay are reflected within watchOS 2 as well, and the Apple Watch will gain a major iOS feature with watchOS 2 -- Activation Lock. Activation Lock on Apple Watch will prevent another user from wiping or activating the Apple Watch if it is lost or stolen.
WatchOS 2 will be available for registered developers beginning today, allowing them to begin building apps with the new features. It'll be available to the public in the fall alongside iOS 9 and will be a free update.
Update: The first beta of watchOS 2 is now available for registered developers.