Apple WWDC 2016 Overview – watchOS


This is the second part of my Worldwide Developer Conference 2016 event overview. In this part I will get into watchOS, one of the four operating systems by Apple. The operating system running on Apple Watch to be exact. It is the third update on the watchOS operating system presented at the Worldwide Developer Conference 2016 on june 13th. An update with new apps, watch faces and most of all a significant improvement of performance.

New watch faces

Three new faces have been added to the set of existing faces. Minnie Mouse with adjustable clothing to match the color of the current band you attached to the watch. An activity face to show you how you are progressing in your day and a Numerical watch face to show you just one number depending on the current time.

Face gallery on the iPhone

The Apple Watch app on iPhone now contains a Face Gallery where you can change the properties of the watch faces, like the color of the Minnie Mouse dress. You could do this in previous versions on the Apple Watch but now you can do the same on the larger screen of your iPhone in the Apple Watch app.

New ‘Favorites’ Dock and Control Center

The navigation has been changed for watchOS 3 where the button on the side of the watch previously showed a list of your contacts. This is now replaced by a collection of your ‘favorite’ apps. This collection replaces the Glance view you brought up by swiping up. Instead of the Glance view, when you swipe up, you will get the Control Center, just like you are used to see on the iPhone. Also switching the face plates is a lot easier in this version. Simply swipe left or right, no longer is the deep press needed to bring the other faces up.

Quick loading of apps from memory

Besides changing the navigation also the use of memory has been changed significantly. Your favorite apps you put in the Dock view are constantly available in the background and stay in memory to enable quick switching between apps. These apps are always updated in the background. Apps running in memory are to be seven times faster than on the old system.

Not only the docked apps will be loaded in memory but also your most recent used apps. When browsing the apps on the dock it will display a current snapshot without loading the app completely. You can add up to ten aps to the Dock view.

Emergency call

A new feature on the Apple Watch is SOS, if you press the lower side button for over three seconds the watch will call the local emergency service. This depends on where you are. In the Netherlands supposedly it would call the 112 emergency service instead of 911 in the US.

Calling the emergency service will also provide the medical information such as age, weight, allergy information and more.


Sharing of your activities

Sharing your activities is hot nowadays, who doesn’t own an activity tracker? Apple did notice that and next to adding the Activity watch face they added activity sharing so you can share your stats with the friends you like.

Wheelchair support

Activity tracking has been made compatible for wheelchair users. Instead of telling you to stand up, which can be awkward if you can’t, the watch will now suggest that it is “Time to roll” if you are in wheelchair mode. Also pushing the wheels of the wheelchair is now a supported activity in this mode.


Several improvements have been made in the area of the Workouts. For instance there is now support for automatic pausing in case you are stopping for traffic lights or some other reason. Registration will pause and will start again when renewed motion is detected. Lifting your arm is now sufficient to show you the stats of the workout. Manually putting the workout on hold can also be accomplished by pressing the Digital Crown and stopping is now done by right swiping instead of force touch. If you are doing a workout that is not in the list you can use ‘other’ workout types.

New apps

Breathe App

One app in particular they spent some time on was the Breath app. With this app you will get support to train your breathing and get into control to be more relaxed. The watch helps by showing images and graphics to indicate how you should be breathing.

Reminders and Find my Friends

Equal to the iPhone the Reminders and Find my Friends app is now added to the Apple Watch for you to use. As ‘docked’ app the Find my Friends app will always be active in the background and allows you to quickly show you where your friends are located.

Heart Rate

With the replacing of the Glance view there is now the Heart Rate app. This was the only thing that didn’t already have its own app outside the Glance view.


Immediately after receiving a message you can now send a reply by really writing on the screen using the new Scribble feature. You can also do that in Chinese if you like, just draw the characters on the screen.



With watchOS 3 you can use your watch as an authentication device for your iPhone to unlock the phone. So you can unlock your phone as soon as it is in close range of the iPhone and no longer needed to enter the authentication information like a pin code.

Apple Pay

Appls on the Apple Watch now get access to Apple Pay, that is if it is supported in your locale. If it is developers can add Apple Pay features to their apps in order for you to use it in the apps of your liking.

New APIs

With watchOS3 the developer gets access to the Digital Crown, touch events, speaker audio, SpriteKit, SceneKit, Game Center, CloudKit to enable saving data over multiple devices and many other new options…

A final word

If you look at it, it really became a large article where at first sight one may have thought there wasn’t all that much changed for this operating system. Still too bad most features can only be used with the phone nearby, the iPhone to be exact – it isn’t multi-platform, but we are used to that with Apple by now.



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