When the Apple Watch was released earlier this year, it met mixed reviews. While detractors criticized it for being slower and less functional than preexisting smartphones, some lauded Apple's first foray into wearable technology for its design, potential capabilities and eventual usefulness. This week the Apple Watch received its first operating system update, based on nearly six months of use cases and development, aimed at boosting performance and turning "potential" and "eventual usefulness" into powerful functionality for users today. Keeping these goals in mind, here are some of our favorite WatchOS 2 improvements.
While WatchOS 1.0 supported third-party apps, it leaned on your iPhone to host them and do most of the processing, leaving the Apple Watch little more than a remote interface for your iPhone. This meant that any apps not built-in to the watch couldn't take advantage of its hardware features, like the accelerometer, heart rate sensor, Taptic Engine or microphone. In WatchOS 2, developers have been able to access these hardware features to create more powerful apps that can run directly on the watch.
One of the initial concerns about the Apple Watch was its security. With WatchOS 1.0, it was easy to wipe all data from the watch without even knowing the passcode, making the device easy to resell for committed thieves. With WatchOS 2's optional Activation Lock, you'll be required to enter your iCloud Apple ID and password when you activate your Apple Watch so no one can access your device if stolen.
While WatchOS 2's new Time Travel feature won't let you fly back in time to relive your prom night, it does give you a handy way to see an overview of your days ahead (or behind). Simply twisting the Digital Crown activates your DeLorean, and your Apple Watch will scroll through your schedule, giving you contextual information such as the weather during your trip tomorrow or the emails you missed from yesterday.