Apple had some rather sedate announcements for both OS X (El Capitan) and iOS (iOS 9) earlier today, and with the exception of Split View for iPads, nothing was really groundbreaking. That same sentiment carries over to Apple’s newest operating system: WatchOS.
WatchOS was first shown off last year at the iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus keynote, and Apple is already looking to its second iteration of the Apple Watch's operating system: WatchOS 2. The biggest addition to WatchOS 2 is the support for native apps. For anyone that’s used an Apple Watch, you know that third-party apps can sometimes be a chore to endure as they are basically running on your iPhone and beamed over to the Apple Watch. That leads to often sluggish performance. Native apps eliminates the need for iPhone processing, and allows developers to directly tap into the Apple Watch’s hardware as Apple’s own apps can.
WatchOS 2 also brings a wealth of new functionality including the ability to set any photo as your watch face (why this wasn’t in the original release is still a mystery), third-party app info can be displayed on your watch face, and you can twist the Digital Crown backwards and forwards (up to 72 hours) to see past and future events using a feature called Time Travel. Another new feature turns your Apple Watch into an alarm clock when it’s docked, sitting on your nightstand. It will display the time and can even be set to wake up with an alarm — the Digital Crown sees as a snooze button, while the side button can be used to shut off the alarm completely.
Other new features include the ability to draw on the screen using more than one color, multiple screens for your oft-contacted friends, reply to emails directly from your wrist, commanding Siri to start/end a workout, query transit data introduced in iOS 9, and chat with friends using FaceTime Audio.
Developers can already start delving into WatchOS 2 to get their apps up to speed while Apple Watch owners will have to wait until fall for the public release.