Watch OS 3 release date, news and features
Update: Watch OS 3 beta 2 for Apple Watch is available to app developers right now, while there’s no public beta planned. Good news: we’ll fill you in on what you’re missing.
Apple Watch 2 still has been announced, but the next closest thing to that is refreshing your existing iPhone-compatible smartwatch with the brand new Apple Watch software update, watchOS 3.
The new firmware means the watch is faster than ever before as well as handing a handful of new features to your Apple Watch. We’re going to have to wait a little bit longer before we can try it out though.
- Everything we think we know about the Apple Watch 2 so far
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next version of Apple’s smartwatch operating system
- When’s it out? In the fall, likely September
- What will it cost? Nothing, it’s an upgrade!
Apple watchOS 3 release date
Apple revealed watchOS 3 at WWDC 2016, and Apple has said it will be ready for release in the Fall this year. We’d expect that to mean in September or October as that’s what happened with the watchOS 2 upgrade last year. The developer preview of watchOS 3 is out now.
Apple watchOS 3 features
The big update in watchOS 3 is in the optimization of your Watch, which makes it faster than ever before. Apple wants to have your apps respond instantly and have all the information you need before you even look at it.
Apps will now pre-load information in the background and some apps are seven times faster than on watchOS 2.
There’s a new dock section on the Watch that allows you to access your favorite apps even quicker than before.
It will include options such as battery, alarm and airplane mode, but you can also switch these out for your own favorite apps. Just press the side button on the Watch for the dock to open.
There’s also another feature called SOS for when you’re in trouble and need the emergency services. It works by you holding down the side button when you’re in a dangerous situation.
It’ll ring the emergency services if your watch is connected to your phone or use the internet if you’re on Wi-Fi.
SOS will work around the world, no matter what country you are in.
It even connects with a new emergency ID feature now included in watchOS 3 that allows you to keep your medical details on your person, rather than just on your phone.
Apple watchOS 3 Activity
The exercise based Activity app on watchOS is going to get an upgrade as well. The focus is on competition with a feature called Activity sharing.
If you swipe to the right of your activity ring it’ll show your family and friends details too so you can start competitions.
It means you can send your heart rate to one of your friends or send a message with running details attached to show off your kickass workout.
Activity now also supports those in a wheelchair too. Apple has applied a number of major changes to the way Activity works on the Apple Watch for those who are in a wheelchair.
The notification "time to stand" will also switch to "time to roll" as well as the addition of two specific workout modes within the Activity app.
Apple watchOS 3 Breathe
Breathe is a new app to help you calm down after a stressful day at work – it’ll give you breathing exercises to try to help relax you. You can set up smart notifications to remind you to use the app and you have the choice of doing workouts from one to five minutes long.
You can even do it with your eyes closed – just switch on haptic feedback and the buzzes will tell you when to breathe in and out.
Apple watchOS 3 messages
Ways to respond to your messages have changed in watchOS 3 by including easy to see shortcuts for voice messages and emoji to make it even quicker to reply. That’s followed by your smart replies that sit just below the message you’re reading.
There’s also a new feature called Scribble that allows you to write a single letter on your watch at a time that will then build into a word. This will work in a number of different languages too – you could even scribble in Chinese.
Apple watchOS 3 faces
It’s quicker than ever to switch your watch face – now it just takes a single swipe. You can even add elements such as the weather on top of your photo watch faces.
Plus Minnie Mouse in now coming to Apple Watch too to join the popular Mickey watch face. You may have seen the WWDC demo in which the her outfits colors can be customized, but did you know they make sounds when tapped, too?
We’ll unlock more watch OS 3 beta secrets as updates roll out to our Apple Watch. Unlike iOS 10 and Mac OS Sierra, there isn’t a planned watchOS3 public beta, so Techradar will remain your best source for hearing all about what’s new for the best smartwatch for iPhone.