Apple Announces watchOS 3 With ‘Instant Launch’ Apps That Open 7 Times Faster

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Apple exploded onto the smartwatch market with its Apple Watch, but one of the biggest knocks against platform were the slow apps that had to stream via Bluetooth from your iPhone. Apple helped somewhat alleviate this problem with native apps with watchOS 2, but many apps were still incredibly slow to open.

Apple has finally addressed this problem once and for all in watchOS 3, with Instant Launch apps. Apps can now reside in memory, with background refresh for data (just like on iOS). This allows apps to launch “seven times faster,” but according to Apple’s Kevin Lynch, “it feels like a million times faster.” Apple showed the app Onefootball loading on both watchOS 2 and watchOS 3, and the difference in performance/loading was like night and day.

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The user interface has been revamped, giving you quicker ways to access your apps with a swipe. Recently used apps are accessed by pressing the side button, which launches the Dock. A quick swipe will then scroll through recently used apps. In addition, the UI now includes Control Center, which can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (also, just like iOS).

Apple has also included a new text input method called Scribble, which allows you to quickly spell to a word one letter at a time, if the preprogrammed responses don’t match with want you want to reply back to a message. It’s quite similar to what’s been available on Android Wear smartwatches.

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There are also little additions here and there that will further the Apple Watch experience, including a new Activity watch face (available in both analog and digital variants), a Minnie Mouse watch face, and the ability to quickly change your watch faces by swiping the screen. You’ll also find an SOS feature that allow you to quickly dial 911 (either through your iPhone’s cellular connection or over Wi-Fi) by holding down the side button. This feature is location-aware, and will dial emergency services based on what country you’re currently located.

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watchOS is going to make your Apple Watch feel “like a whole new watch” and will be available as a free update this fall.