Apple Watch fitness is about to get competitive.
It’s been well over a year since the Apple Watch first launched – yes, already – and now it’s getting a serious upgrade. And no, we’re not just talking about the recently unveiled Apple Watch 2. If you’ve already splashed out on Apple’s debut wearable, it’s about to add a host of new features, yippie.
The new watchOS 3 patch is on its way as the next major software update for your beloved wrist wear. Set to land as a free update in the coming days – you’re going to want to mark Tuesday, September 13 in your diary – watchOS 3 doesn’t have just a couple of cool features up its sleeve, it will introduce this lot…
1. INSTANTANIOUS APP LAUNCHES ARE A REALITY
Although you could fill the Apple Watch with wrist-based apps from day one, they were never particularly speedy. The new watchOS 3 updates are changing that though, with app launches becoming near enough instantaneous. How? Well, Apple’s keeping your favourite and most recently used apps open in the background so that when you want them they’re there, instantly, no boring loading screens or buffering symbols.
2. A MULTITASKING ‘DOCK’ IS INBOUND
With background apps kicking about, you’re going to want an easy way to access them. That’s where the new multitasking-friendly Apple Watch Dock comes in. Offering instant access to your favourite apps, the Dock, which can be found by pressing your Watch’s side-mounted button, lets you scroll sideways through everything that’s open. Because the apps in your Dock are live, they also offer a snapshot of glanceable live information too. As such, you’ll be able to check the football scores, keep tabs on your fitness goals and track the progress of your countdown timer all without having to jump in and out of apps – handy.
3. YOUR IPHONE’S CONTROL CENTRE HAS COME TO PLAY
Find navigating your Apple Watch’s multiway menus just a little bit complicated when switching between the buttons, touchscreen and digital crown? Well things are getting a bit easier, with the Control Centre making the jump from the iPhone to put a number of features just a single, simply upwards swipe away. Pulling up from the bottom of the display will now give you battery details as well as instant access to flight mode, night mode, lock, and notification-blocking commands.
4. IT’S TIME TO SCRIBBLE OUT REPLIES
Following firmly in Google’s footsteps – this feature was unveiled for Android Wear a couple of weeks ago – Apple is making it easier to answer messages by letting you write out replies, letter by letter with your finger on the screen. While the new ‘Scribble’ tool will transform your wiggly words into comprehendible messages, smart replies directly beneath your message notifications – not another button press away like before – will also improve your replying game.
5. GENDER EQUALITY COMES TO CARTOON WATCH FACES
It’s OK, you can admit it, you love the Apple Watch’s Mickey Mouse watch face and break it out when your judging mates aren’t around, right? Well, Apple’s upping its Disney-themed fronts, and throwing in a healthy dollop of gender equality too, with the addition of a new Minnie Mouse Apple Watch face. Hold your excitement, it gets better, the customisable face even lets you change the colour of Minnie’s dress to match your watch strap. Awesome.
6. IT’S GETTING EASIER TO TRACK FITNESS PERFORMANCES
The Apple Watch is great at tracking your fitness. From steps count and calorie burn to activity time and distances covered, it can monitor the lot. Trouble is, to see it all in detail you’ve got to repeatedly jump in and out of the Activity app. Well, no more. New watch faces let you set the Activity rings as the backdrop with the clock hands being built around them.
7. APPLE WATCH, THE LIFE SAVER
Fitness tracker, message notifier, weather checker… life saver. The Apple Watch is adding a serious new string to its bow with the latest new feature – SOS. An addition that could help save your life – seriously – SOS will call the emergency services if you’ve had an accident, all you have to do is press and hold the Watch’s side button for a few seconds. With the inbuilt mic letting you chat away and explain the issue, once you’ve finished talking to the emergency services, your Apple Watch will send a text to your pre-assigned emergency contact and even send them a map notification as to where you are. Once all that’s been sorted, the Watch will then display your medical ID incase, y’now, you’re not in a state to explain it all yourself.
8. ACTIVITY SHARING BRINGS ADDED COMPETITION
Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of lighthearted competition? Well, Apple knows you love to make yourself feel better by showing up your mates and so has added an ‘Activity Sharing’ mode to the Apple Watch’s fitness tracking Activity app. Letting you sync in to your friends’ workouts, you can measure your daily activity against those you want to beat in realtime, sorting your progress by any metric. Want to see who in your group’s covered the greatest distance, burned the most calories or taken the most steps? You got it. Upping the competition game just a little, you’ll also be able to send messages directly from the activity sharing homepage, with encouraging and belittling quick messages on tap.
9. HELPING YOU BREATHE, ONE BREATH AT A TIME
Thought you knew how to breathe? Think again. The Apple Watch is going to show you how you should really do it, with the new Breathe feature joining your Health set-up to act as your guru to sucking air in and pushing it back out again. On a serious note though, just like your Watch will tell you to stand up throughout the day, it will prompt you to take a few seconds to indulge in some deep breathing exercises, following a pulsing symbol to keep pace. Want to shut your eyes to further relax? Your Watch’s haptic feedback will give you gentle vibrations to act as a tempo tool.