Apple’s WatchOS 2: What you need to know

Delayed when eagle-eyed developers spotted a major flaw at the eleventh hour, Apple has finally (and quietly) shipped WatchOS 2. Here's what you need to know:


When your watch is in range and connected to its charger to install the software:

  • Launch the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
  • Choose My Watch>General>Software Update

Be warned, the upgrade takes time sometimes.

The Rickroll factor

WatchOS 2 lets you add multiple groups of 12 contacts. You create these groups on your phone. However someone at Apple seems to have a sense of humor – just look at the abbreviated names on the watch face above and think about Rick Astley.

Native apps

The biggest improvement in the upgrade is the introduction of native apps. This means apps no longer depend on your iPhone and can operate independently on the watch. This makes for less lag waiting for things to happen, and opens the device up to developers attempting to create logical user experiences.

Apple has also opened the OS up so developers can use device features including the Digital Crown, Complications, taptic feedback and health tracking in their apps.

Given the delayed release of WatchOS 2 there aren’t too many apps around that exploit this new found independence, take a look at: WebMD, Dark Sky, Weather Channel, Citymapper, Zova, iTranslate, Foursquare and Pacemaker DJ to get a sense of what’s possible.

Watch this useful Reddit thread for more app ideas as they ship.


Alongside making more metrics visible, Apple’s personal health app gains a real-time heart monitor that streams from your wrist, so medical professionals can use the data.

Open Wi-Fi

The Watch will connect to open Wi-Fi networks when your iPhone isn’t around, so it can use Siri and send emails. A future Apple Watch will inevitably offer its own SIM.


Siri has become smarter on all Apple’s supported platforms. On Apple Watch you can ask it to open apps (including support for contextual terms such as “running session”). Siri can also open up Glances for you and control your HomeKit accessories, if you have any.

Activation lock

Now the Watch is independent Apple has been able to give it its own Activation Lock, which means you need to enter your Apple ID and password when you activate your Watch. Without these details no one can use your Watch if it is stolen.

Mass transit

iOS 9 brings mass transit information into Maps and this also features in WatchOS 2. This means your watch can give you taptic feedback clues to direct you to and from your transit stop, so you can keep your phone in your pocket.

Watch faces

We discussed this shortly after the new OS was announced at WWDC: You can use time-lapsed images, still photos from your collection or curated albums as watch faces. You should also be able to use Live Photo images soon. There are some extra complications you can add to existing faces.


At last, you can reply to emails without using your phone, though you only have a up to 20 preset replies which you can customize. When you respond your message will have a “Sent from my Apple Watch” slogan at the end, which could at least explain the brevity of your response.

Apple Pay

I’m based in the UK and I’ve only been using Apple Pay in my daily life for the last couple of weeks. I’m finding plenty of supporting merchants, large and small, and using it to pay for public transport is much easier than reaching for change or a pass.


Put your Watch on its side and you get a big watchface with the Digital Crown and side button serving as alarm snooze and off buttons.

Sketch, Time, Travel

You can use multiple colors in your sketches and can scroll forward and back through the calendar using the Digital Crown.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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