The first major software update for the Apple Watch, watchOS 2, will be available this September and includes new watch faces, native third-party apps, and new communication capabilities in Mail, Friends and Digital Touch.
Developers can now take advantage of the hardware features of the Apple Watch, including the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine and heart rate sensor, along with software APIs to build new app experiences.
“We are thrilled with the feedback we’re getting from Apple Watch customers, and after just a few weeks of availability we’re excited for developers to start building native apps for watchOS 2,” says Kevin Lynch, Apple vice president of Technology.
“We think Apple Watch users will love being able to see information from their favourite apps right on the watch face, and enjoy the many new experiences developers will dream up now that they have access to even more innovative features of Apple Watch.”
Developers have already created thousands of apps for Apple Watch. WatchKit gives them access to key hardware. New software APIs enable audio and video playback and animation, and with the ClockKit framework, developers can represent their data as complications on the watch face.
watchOS 2 lets users turn a photo into a new watch face or view pictures from a favourite photo album. With the Time-Lapse watch face, users can choose from a selection of time-lapse videos shot over 24 hours in iconic locations including New York City, London or Shanghai.
A new Time Travel feature allows users scroll with the Digital Crown to explore events in the future (and past) including upcoming meetings or activities, the temperature for the week, and information from third-party apps, such as upcoming flight information.
The latest Apple Watch software provides more creative ways to communicate. With Mail, users can respond quickly using dictation, Smart Replies or emoji.
Users can create multiple Friends screens, each of which can hold up to twelve friends, and new friends can be added directly on Apple Watch.
Digital Touch allows users to draw and send sketches with multiple colours on the same canvas, giving them more tools for creative sketches.
Additional watchOS 2 features include:
- Nightstand Mode, which transforms Apple Watch into a bedside alarm clock
- The ability to use merchant rewards and store-issued credit and debit cards with Apple Pay, which can be added to Wallet (note: Apple Pay is not yet available in New Zealand)
- Support for Transit in Maps to view detailed transportation maps and schedules
- Workouts from third-party fitness apps contributing to Move and Exercise goals
- Siri to start specific workouts, launch Glances and reply to email
- Activation Lock to secure an Apple Watch with their Apple ID
watchOS 2 will be available in September as a free update to Apple Watch.
Apple Watch requires iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2 or later.
The iOS 9 SDK beta including WatchKit for watchOS 2 is available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com/watchkit.
Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.