Today, on September 9, 2015, during Apple’s press conference event, a series of updates for the Apple Watch were announced that rival the volume of news from when the Apple Watch itself was originally debuted last year at this time. In fact, Apple has made a lot of announcements today across various product categories from iPad to iPhone, and Apple TV to Apple Watch. For Apple Watch, the major announcements are really about some new aesthetic options (new cases and straps) as well as the new Apple Watch OS2 operating system. What I’d like to do in this post is sum up the new Apple Watch announcements that I am more excited about – especially having worn the Apple Watch since its launch.
I originally predicted that Apple would debut an enhanced app store experience allowing for the download of third-party watch dials vetted by Apple that might even sync with new animated backgrounds on the iPhone. I was partially right in the sense that Apple did add some new watch dials with Apple Watch OS2, as well as the ability for third-party apps to integrate with Apple Watch dials. Apple has referred to this in very “horological” terms, calling these new notifications and functions on watch dials “complications.”
Apple further delivered on their promise to open up the Apple Watch operating system environment a bit more to third-party developers. They also pushed to increase the fashionability of the Apple Watch by debuting many new “fall” colors for the Apple Watch Sport Band, offering new case colors, as well as the new mid-tier luxury model with the Apple Watch Hermes and the accompanying Hermes straps. While it is too early for the Apple Watch 2 to be released, Apple did offer a very compelling set of features that I think will be made use of very well for upcoming versions of the Apple Watch in the future. We can also be pretty sure that Apple Watch 2 will share the same straps as today’s Apple Watch.
So here are my favorite Apple Watch updates announced today, on September 9, 2015, that I am looking forward to.
THIRD PARTY COMPLICATIONS FOR APPLE WATCH DIALS
Apple hasn’t exactly made it possible for third-party developers to create their own Apple Watch dials, but they have made it possible for third-party developers to create “complications” for Apple Watch dials. These are all those other notifications and pieces of information that surround many of the Apple Watch dials (especially Modular) which help make using the Apple Watch cool.
While it might seem minor, allowing third-party developers to include data and utilize the Apple Watch dial screen is not only important for increasing the use-cases for the Apple Watch for more people, but also as an incentive for developers to make more interesting apps for the Apple Watch that until now have been pretty limited in their ability to access various parts of the Apple Watch OS environment.
REPLYING TO E-MAILS
One of the new features of Apple Watch OS2 is the enhanced ability to reply to e-mails directly from the watch. This works almost identically to how people already respond to SMS and MMS messages on the Apple Watch, but now, you can do the same for e-mail. No, you can’t type in responses, but you can dictate them with Siri, use emojis, or reply with preset responses.
Apple has finally made good use of the Apple Watch while it is charging. To a degree, this is somewhat redundant because the iPhone is already a great alarm and travel clock (or main nightstand clock) for many, but now, you can also use the Apple Watch as a nightstand clock with the new Nightstand Mode. Unlike the iPhone, the Apple Watch, when placed on its side and connected to the charger, is oriented to the side versus facing straight up like your phone. With Nightstand Mode, the Apple Watch display orients to the side and, of course, in addition to a clock view, you also have an alarm which uses the case buttons for things like snooze.
MATTE GOLD APPLE WATCH SPORT MODELS
This is an interesting new addition, but it makes sense given consumer demand. In addition to the actual 18k gold Apple Watch Edition (reviewed here), new gold-toned versions of the Apple Watch Sport will be available in both the 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch Sport models. These have matte gold tones for the anodized aluminum case, and they are priced at the same $349 and $399 prices as the rest of the Apple Watch Sport pieces. This adds even more stylistic diversity for the Apple Watch and further expands the Apple Watch Sport price point, especially for women, in my opinion.
PUBLIC TRANSIT ON APPLE WATCH MAPS
One of the coolest things people anticipated in the Apple Watch even before it was commercially available was the ability to have maps and directions right on their wrist. This proved really useful, but I think more people could make use of it versus using maps on their phone. With Apple Watch OS2, public transit has been added to maps on the Apple Watch. Why is this a big deal? Well, it helps the Apple Watch be even more useful when traveling in new cities and places when you need to rely on unfamiliar transit systems and when you don’t want to keep looking at your phone. Traveling in new cities and trying to get around is something I am quite familiar with, and anything that makes that more simple and allows me to experience new places without being stuck looking into my phone is a great thing.
ITRANSLATE ON APPLE WATCH
In the future, we will have true “Babel fish” devices which allow us to communicate in our native tongue with anyone else by using an intermediate translation device. I really like using tools like Google Translate for “slow” conversations with people who speak different languages, but of course, it isn’t real time yet. Well, Apple has their own iTranslate app, and now, it works on the Apple Watch with a native application which allows you to speak into your watch and have it translate to a different language. This type of application will only get better in the future.
MORE APPLE WATCH STRAP OPTIONS
When reviewing the Apple Watch Straps (here), I commented that swapping out straps was something that all Apple Watch owners should consider not only for making the Apple Watch more comfortable in more situations, but also to stylistically enhance the Apple Watch for new situations. Apple also knows how important fashion acceptance is for the Apple Watch, so you’ll find new “fall colors” for the Apple Watch Sport band.
On the higher-end side, there are new Hermes straps for Apple Watch, along with more special features (such as unique dials) for the Apple Watch Hermes.
According to Apple, the new Apple Watch OS2 and the new strap and style options will be available on September 16th, 2015. apple.com