What to expect in Apple’s Watch update

A welcome change on the communication front is the ability to reply to emails via smart replies, Siri voice-to-text dictation, or emoji. Currently, you can only do this for text messages.

Watch OS 2 brings FaceTime Audio support so you can make and receive voice calls using Apple’s high quality voice-over-IP service in addition to normal mobile calls.

Also improved is the ability to add more friends to communicate with, including multiple friend screens that hold up to 12 friends, and you can now add friends directly from the watch, rather than via the app on your iPhone.

And in case you want to add a splash of colour to your Digital Touch messages, you can now draw sketches in multiple colours, rather than just one, and send them to your Apple Watch-wearing friends.

Digital Touch adds some colour.
Digital Touch gets more colour.

When it comes to activity tracking, Watch OS 2 can now, thankfully, accept information from 3rd party fitness devices, so your total activity goals can be reached more accurately if you exercise with other types of trackers.

Apple has made your activity achievement medals more personal, and some now show your name and date on the back, and you can spin them around with your finger.

Another handy tweak is that you can now use Siri to start your workout, as it can be a little finicky to start the timer with your fingers while you’re on the move.

There are also improvements to Apple Pay and the new Transit feature in Maps, however neither will be useful to Australians until they are supported here.

Apple has its developer community excited by allowing 3rd party apps direct access to the watch’s innovative features. This includes the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine (for screen pressing and tapping) and heart rate sensor, as well as software control for video and audio playback, audio recording, animations and more.

We saw some examples of early apps built for Watch OS 2, such as Strava, for more accurately tracking your heart rate while on a run or ride, Insteon can give customers more precise controls to dim their lights or control the temperature with the Digital Crown and Volkswagen owners can get haptic feedback when their car door has been locked.

3rd party apps can now use the Digital Crown and other hardware in the Apple Watch.
3rd party apps can now use the Digital Crown and other hardware in the Apple Watch.

We also saw demos of WeChat’s audio messaging using the watch’s microphone, and the Vine app can host and play video right on the watch face.

Apple expects Watch OS 2 to be available as a free upgrade this spring.


Valens Quinn was flown to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where this was announced as a guest of Apple.