Apple Watch OS 2: All the New Features Heading to Your Wrist

By Gerald Lynch on at

After lots of teasing, and much anticipation, Apple finally got its Watch onto our wrists back in April. It proved popular, but it also didn't feel all that comprehensive in what it was offering. Well, that looks as though it's about to change; at tonight's WWDC 2015 keynote, Apple announced the launch of watchOS 2, massively expanding the potential of its wristable. Suddenly, the Apple Watch is looking a lot more useful.

Related: WWDC 2015 Round-Up: All Tonight's Big Apple Announcements

Here's everything Apple revealed will be coming to its enhanced Apple Watch OS 2 equipped wearable in the coming months.

apple watch os 2

Native Apps and User Generated Faces

This is the big one. Developers will now be able to make standalone Watch apps, freeing the wristwatch from the tyranny of iPhone tethering. Whether a game, a music player or a workout app, your Watch will be able to run applications completely independent of the iPhone. Apple's Kevin Lynch (no relation of mine, sorry) showed off just a snippet of the potential this offers while on stage, finally giving devs and users alike the power to make new watch faces from photos or photo albums. Lynch showed off animated timelapse faces too, showing off the Hong Kong, London and New York skylines.

Complications

App developers can now make their own complications, those little widget-like items which sit around the time display and give extra information. From the charge level of your electric car battery to football scores or bus time tables, complications can give at a glance info on basically any data a developer can tap into.

Time Travel

Time Travel is a new feature that ties in directly to those complications. Using the Watch's digital crown, you can "turn back time", and see the information that was displayed on your complications at the moment. Maybe you need to know exactly when a message came in, or when you got a life-changing retweet from someone off of The Only Way is Essex, without taking your phone out. Time Travel will let you do that on your wrist, from. Great for that one person who uses the stocks app, too.

WatchConnectivity

WatchConnectivity does exactly what it the portmanteau says, giving enhanced connectivity options to the timepiece. As Apple states, it  "enables Apple Watch to communicate directly with known wifi hotspots using the new Tetherless Wi-Fi feature in watchOS 2." This means your Apple Watch apps stay up-to-date, even when out of range of your iPhone. Particularly useful for the new wave of native apps.

Alarm Clock

A simple one, but curiously missing at launch. The Apple Watch can now sit on your bedside table as an alarm clock, with the display rotating so that it can sit on its edge, leaving easy, ceiling-facing access to buttons and crown for snooze and alarm stop controls.

Communications

A few simple updates to the Watch's communications features. You can now more easily add a friend and use multiple colours in Digital Touch drawings, letting you send rainbow-coloured finger-drawn dick pics to new companions without breaking a sweat. You can also now reply to emails direct from the watch, while there's added support for Facetime Audio calls.

Health and Fitness

With native apps now supported, fitness apps are now far more comfortable -- no more need for that iPhone jangling in your lycra pockets. Workouts activated on the Apple Watch will automatically be added to your all-day activity count. Siri can now also start workouts with specific voice commands setting the parameters, such as "go for a five mile run". Achievements earned from workouts come with nifty, 3D engraved badges too, because tightening that belt loop isn't reason enough to get down the gym, right.

Transit

With public transport data added to Apple Maps with the new Transit feature, Apple Watch gets access to all those timetable and route stats too. You'll be able to see transit lines on your wrist, departure times, step-by-step directions and nearest stations, making Apple Maps a good match for Google Maps in terms of features when the two wrist versions are put up against each other.

Siri

Siri gets some loving, tying the voice assistant in with all the new features listed above. It will understand transit features and respond with relevant transport information based on your requests, and will integrate with Apple's HomeKit, allowing you to "dim the lights" by talking to your wrist. It's the FUTURE, guys.

Developers

For developers, Watch OS 2 gives greater access to all the components of the wrist wearable, which will be useful for making distinct native applications. For instance, the microphone on the watch is now opened up, bringing your audio into apps, as well as giving devs the option to play audio out of the watch's speaker. Short video can be displayed on the screen (a Vine roll was demoed), and devs now get access to the Health app, and HomeKit functionality for internet of things gadget control. The taptic engine can be...tapped into by devs, and the Digital Crown is now accessible too giving a wider array of app control options to devs.