Apple Watch watchOS 2, beta 4. First impressions…

Custom Apple Watch face
Custom Apple Watch face

By now everyone from Jeb Bush to 50 cent has told you and me what they liked or disliked about the new Apple wearable – the Apple Watch.  Half of those that reported say it is great, the other half say it is a failure.  Somewhere between those two extremes lies the truth.

If history is any indicator, and in MHO it is, in the case of Apple products sucess – then there is much hope for in the Apple Watch.  The first iPhone, iPod, Mac and iPad were all pretty rough in “Version 1.0” of the hardware and the software. A few years later each of these devices were polished, perfected and leaders in their respective class.

Apple announced at the recent World Wide Developers Conference a new “OS” – operating system for the Apple Watch – watch0S 2.  There are well over a dozen new features which are being added to the free software upgrade to be released sometime in September.  These changes add smoothness, stability, speed and usuable features to the Apple Watch.

As an Apple Developer I have first crack at the betas of the new watchOS 2.  Here are a few of my favorite features of the new OS (based on the beta 4 release):

  • New Watch Faces: There are several new watch faces. Cool animated sunrise to sunset videos of London, New York and other top world class cities.  My favorite is the new “photos” face which is comprised of my favorite family and vacation photos.  Each time you look at the face of the watch a different photo appears.  For the first time my wife, who was not originally an Apple Watch fan, felt that maybe this was a good reason to get one.
  • Time Travel: Scroll the crown forward and see what’s on your schedule for tommorow – including what the weather will be like during that event.  Scroll the crown backward and see what happened yesterday. Even news events in the past show up. Awesome!
  • Nightstand Mode: When you retire for the evening attach the charging pod and place your watch on the side.  Now you get a great little alarm clock that gently glows and then disappears until you touch it or your watch alarm goes off.  The Digital Crown and side button are used to “snooze” and turn off alarms.
  • “Native” Apps: Although I cannot test this new feature during the beta phase I have experience in what this feature will do.  The first Apple iPhone used “web apps” which were slow to load and clumsey in execution.  A year later Apple added the ability to the iPhone to use apps that were completely stored on the device allowing them to run much faster and take full advantage of the hardware.  This is what’s about to happen to the Apple Watch. Yea!
  • Reply to eMail:  This will add more usability to the watch.  The reply feature is already enabled in text messages of the current watch.  You can dictate a reply, send an emoji, or pick one of a dozen or more “stock” replies – or add your own.
  • Many more: Other new and imoproved features include the ability of Siri to understand and do more things, activation lock to secure your watch if it gets lost or stolen, more credit/debit cards and store cards (like Kohl’s) in Apple Pay.

Will the changes make a difference in the sale of Apple Watches? Definitely.  Is this the final solution to sluggish sales? Absolutely not.  But looking at a 8 year history for iPhones, a 15 year history for iPods and a 4 year history of iPad’s I would not hesitate to “bet the ranch” on the future of Apple, and the Apple Watch.

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