The Apple Watch Is Getting A Huge Software Update

Faster load times, new faces, and a new app dock

Apple demonstrated watchOS 3 at WWDC on Monday.
Apple demonstrated watchOS 3 at WWDC on Monday. Screenshot

Apple announced a new operating system for the Apple Watch at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2016) in San Francisco. The update, which will be called watchOS 3, includes an acceleration of app launch time. The company says that apps should launch instantly (up to seven times faster), and more data will be preloaded before you lift your watch.

Users will now be able to have greater control over their new “dock” where preloaded app screens live. The dock is like the ones on Mac computers and iOS, but summoned by pressing the button on the side of the watch. The Apple Watch will also mirror the iPhone and iPad, with a new Control Center when users swipe up on the Watch.

The Apple Watch will also gain a feature called “Scribble,” which allows users to respond to text messages by writing out one letter at a time, for quicker response.

Apple is adding a few new watch faces, including Minnie Mouse and a face focused on activity tracking.

The Apple Watch's new activity-focused watch face.
The Apple Watch’s new activity-focused watch face. Screenshot

The Apple Watch is getting an overhaul in terms of activity tracking. The biggest new addition is activity sharing, where friends can opt into sharing their workout data. Apple Watch users can choose from pre-loaded responses to other people’s workouts, that range from competitive to encouraging.

To add to their activity offerings, a new Breathe app is being brought to the watch, which will guide users through deep breathing exercises.

Apple is also optimizing the watch for wheelchair users—activity trackers will prompt users to “roll” instead of stand, and there are two targeted workout modes for those in wheelchairs.

The upgrade will come to all Watch owners this fall.

Follow all of our WWDC 2016 coverage here.