Apple's watchOS 3 promises faster performance, updated interface, handwriting recognition

Apple's watchOS 3 promises faster performance, updated interface, handwriting recognition


WWDC often focuses heavily on software, and this year’s event is no exception. Apple has revealed the next version of watchOS, and it is promising faster app performance – all thanks to Instant Launch.

Instant Launch basically moves all apps – both third-party and built-in apps – to the watch’s memory, and will update information in the background even if the user is not using the app currently. This will, according to Apple, make apps launch and react “seven times” faster than the previous version of watchOS.

It will include a new safety feature that lets you call the emergency services in a few seconds – all by simply holding down the side button. It will do it through the phone or WiFi connection. Once the call ends, it will also ping emergency contacts and alert them.

The user interface has also been improved. It’s adding a “dock” so you can launch different apps quickly; and it will have a Control Center. Like its iOS counterpart, Control Center quickly lets you turn on/off mute, Bluetooth and WiFi.

It also has handwriting recognition – called Scribble – which lets you respond to messages by letting draw text on the watch face, and it will convert it to text. This feature looks likely to be used in Asian countries, especially in China.

Apple has also improved its health and fitness apps. You can now share your activity with your friends so you can be more competitive – you can even send smack talk to your friends. It’s also adding a new “Breathe” app, designed to help you relax through breathing. You simply open the app, choose the amount of time, and follow the haptic cues to control your breathing.

Activity and Health Kit’s algorithms have also been tweaked for those who use wheelchairs. After receiving feedback, Apple has adjusted the algorithms to take into account the wheelchair users’ routines.

A developer preview for the new watchOS will be available today, with a public release coming later this spring.

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