Apple Announces watchOS 2 With Native Apps, Third-Party Complications, and More

At today's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple detailed some major changes coming to watchOS, the operating system that powers the Apple Watch. New features in watchOS 2 include support for native apps, third-party complications, communications improvements, better health and fitness performance, new Siri capabilities, and more.

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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.

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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.

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Top Rated Comments

Chatter Avatar
119 months ago
For me, this is a really exciting part of today's stuff. I am really enjoying the watch and these new enhancements/apps/complications are welcome.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannys1 Avatar
119 months ago
I was at my local store this afternoon and then iPhone had the most people looking, along with some browsing iPads and Macs. Guess how many were at the watch table? Nobody.
Most pointless post ever.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NotSafeForWork Avatar
119 months ago
No third party watch faces :(
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
doelcm82 Avatar
119 months ago
No, you're right. It doesn't have it.

The face of the watch is just too small - I think that's the problem. Plus the fact that it's not fully functional apart from a iPhone.


Fitness and Health? YES

General Purpose? NO
The days of the Apple Watch as a desktop replacement are not yet here.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jamesjingyi Avatar
119 months ago
Seriously? The Fall? Glad I sold mine.

Is this what it feels like when a major Apple launch disappoints? It's so depressing.
That's what usually happens, they release the actual thing later after they have ironed out bugs and given the devs a chance.. It's happened with OS X and iOS for ages now.. Thought you'd be used to it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Slash366 Avatar
119 months ago
Not at all.

He's confirming several reports from people all around the world that have stated a dearth of people around the watch tables in Apple Stores, even in busy stores. It means that there is no question that the Apple Watch is, indeed, a failure for Apple; all that remains is to see the size of the failure. Is it a hobby, like the Apple TV used to be, or is it a Newton-sized pull-the-plug failure?

No mention of Apple Watch numbers by Cook; if they were stellar, we would certainly have heard them by now.
Several people!? Around the world you say?! Good lord didn't realise it was that bad. I best sell mine whilst it still holds some value in that case. Definite failure.

P.S I note every negative post in these forums is followed by a 'Benjamin Frost likes this'. Cheer up.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)