I remember exactly where I was when Apple began taking Apple Watch pre-orders in April: on the edge of my seat at my office desk, eyes glued to my laptop, my finger click-click-clicking the mouse button, refreshing the Apple Store webpage. There was a flash of blue, and a ‘Buy Now’ button materialised. Click! My favourite model, the Apple Watch sport 42mm with white band, was in my cart. Click! I had selected my pre-saved shipping address. Click! I had hit the green checkout button, and just like that, in about 10 seconds, I was Rs 26,000 poorer.
I received my Apple Watch on the first day it went on sale. Being an early technology adopter is amazing — you get mad bragging rights if nothing else — but it also means that you often have a product that’s far from mature.
That was certainly the case with the Apple Watch. It shipped with watchOS 1.0 (a customised version of iOS, Apple’s operating system for iPhones, iPods and iPads) that was updated to watchOS 1.0.1 in a few months and boy was it unfinished. You can read email on your Watch, for instance, but you’ll still need your iPhone to reply; you can use third-party apps to track your workouts, but they don’t have access to the heart-rate sensor on the Watch; and any apps you download can’t run on the Watch but, instead, run on the iPhone (the Watch simply displays them), which means they’re so slow they’re nearly unusable.
Luckily, watchOS 2 is round the corner and it promises to make your Apple Watch whole again. Apple will release the new operating system on September 16, and if you’re lucky enough to have an Apple Watch or are considering buying one, here’s why you should be excited about watchOS 2.
Apps will finally be usable
Right now, Apple Watch users spend a lot of time staring at this:
The moment you tap on an app, this annoying symbol spins and whirrs — anywhere from 4 to 10 seconds—before your app opens. Often, it’s faster to just whip out your phone, launch the app there, and get your work done than wait for it to load on the Watch—which kind of defeats the purpose of having the Watch in the first place.
This isn’t the app’s fault. The current version of watchOS doesn’t allow developers to run their app on the Watch. Instead, the app runs on the phone and beams all that data through bluetooth to the Watch, which is what makes it sluggish. No more. With watchOS 2, apps can run directly on the Watch, meaning that they will be way, way faster. They will also have access to the Watch’s heart-rate sensor, microphone, and speaker among other things.
Just imagine: you might finally be able to call that Uber right from your Watch like Apple told us we could — about a year ago.
Email will finally get that one crucial, missing feature
This kind of feels like it should have been there in the first place, but watchOS 2 will allow you to finally reply to email right from your Apple Watch. Third party Watch apps like Microsoft Outlook (yes, Microsoft’s ported Outlook to Apple Watch!) already allow you to do this, but it’s nice to see the feature coming to Apple’s default Mail app as well.
You will be able to select from a list of preset replies or dictate one.
Watch faces will get a whole lot better
watchOS 2 includes 5 brand new watch faces — dazzling time-lapse videos shot in iconic locations around the world, so you can see your Watch face change as your day progresses.
Current locations include New York, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Mack Lake (no India yet, although we think Apple might add something when it launches Apple Watch here).
In addition, you can now set a photo from your camera roll as a watch face. You can even select an entire album of pictures, so you have a new watch face each time you raise your wrist to see the time.
You will be able to see the future
OK, not exactly. But kind of. Right now, the digital crown on the Watch doesn’t really do anything if you spin it while you’re on your watch face, But if you’re on a face that displays lots of information — like Modular, for instance — watchOS 2 will give you a snapshot of your day ahead if you spin it. Like so:
Your Watch will be your new nightstand
Right now, the Apple Watch is kind of useless when you take it off at night and slap it on its charging cradle. But with watchOS 2, you’ll be able to flip it on its side and use it like a really cool nightstand (it will automatically go into nightstand mode if its on its side and you connect the charger). Your display will change to big, green comforting numbers that tell you the time and you can also set an alarm.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, a simple jiggle of a the watch or even your bedside table will switch the display on.
Your Watch will also glow brighter and brighter as it gets closer to your alarm time (kind of useless, since you’ll be fast asleep anyway). Press the digital crown to snooze or the side button to turn off the alarm.
You’ll be no Picasso but you’ll draw better
I suck at drawing on the Watch. I don’t have fat fingers or anything, but seriously, that screen is way too small for any serious sketching. watchOS 2 can’t help you there but it can make things slightly better by allowing you to use multiple colours in a single drawing.
Cool. I guess.
You’ll be able to add more than 12 people to your Favourites
The list of people who I need on my Apple Watch speed dial is..rather limited (hi Mom) but you might be the social butterfly for all I know, so now, you’ll be able to add dozens of contacts to your Apple Watch Favouites. You can even organise them by groups, which is handy.
The best part that you can now add friends directly from the Watch without touching your phone at all.
Siri on the Watch will finally be not dumb
Not get me wrong, I love raising my wrist to my chest and checking the weather or playing a song I like. But the list of things that Siri on the Watch can’t do is embarrassingly long. The shiny new Siri in watchOS 2 will let you launch apps, start workouts, calculate tips, look up words in a dictionary, and a lot more.
Thieves will want to steal your Watch less
Assuming that your average Delhi thug keeps up with this stuff, he will know that cornering you in a dark alley and robbing your of your Apple Watch at knife-point is useless, since there’s no way he will be able to wipe it without your iCloud password, thanks to a new feature called Activation Lock.
But let’s face it: any thug who watches Apple keynotes knows this is coming, and if he already has you cornered in an alley, you bet he’ll make you enter your iCloud password. Or else.
Your Watch will now play videos (never mind that tiny screen)
Look out for Vine on Apple Watch, coming later this year. pic.twitter.com/XT8LGzikp6— Vine (@vine) June 8, 2015
Short videos. Up to 6 seconds only. But you weren’t exactly planning to watch YouTube on that thing, were you?