The Apple Watch may be the undisputed king of smartwatches, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect — a particularly big annoyance we encountered in our review were third-party app slowdowns and crashes. Thankfully, 9to5Mac reports that a forthcoming update should remedy those issues and others with enhancements to fitness and health tracking, a new watch-finding app, and a range of other fixes aimed at stability.
As Apple works towards the release of tools later this year for native, hardware-accelerated Apple Watch apps, a source tells 9to5Mac that Apple will open complications — the tiny date, weather, and battery life widgets on watch faces — to third-party tinkering. According to the report, the Cupertino-based company’s been working with Twitter on an unread tweet counter icon.
It’s unclear exactly to what degree users will be able to customize complications and just how they’ll go about obtaining new ones. Right now, the Apple Watch lacks a storefront for watch faces and limits the degree to which complications can be changed — it’s implausible that, at least initially, getting new complications will require downloading entirely new watch faces.
The addition of “Find My Watch” looks to address the glaring absence of watch-finding functionality. Just like the app Google recently introduced on Android Wear, Find My Watch will let users lock, wipe, and track their wearable. Intriguingly, though, it goes a few steps further than comparable implementations — a feature known as “Smart Leashing” will notify users if their Apple Watch loses connectivity with a paired iPhone. It’ll also somehow rely on Wi-Fi to pinpoint its location, although that functionality might debut with a second-generation Apple Watch — it reportedly requires a wireless chip more capable than the one found in current-generation models, 9to5Mac says.
Separately, Apple’s beefing up the watch’s wellness capabilities. The company’s been experimenting with arrhythmia detection features that would notify a wearer in the event of an irregular heartbeat, but for now has put those functions on hold over liability and regulatory concerns. (The FDA published guidelines in January suggesting smartwatches that diagnose and treat illness would be subject to increased scrutiny).
Apple also planned to add oxygen-saturation tracking and blood-sugar monitoring, but opted to incubate the necessary sensors for a future model. In lieu of those, though, sources tell 9to5Mac a future update will bring blood-pressure monitoring and sleep tracking to the Apple Watch.
Sadly, a timeline for the aforementioned updates is nonexistent, but considering the close proximity of WDDC, a preview of a few of the new features — and if we’re especially lucky, a release date or developer preview — isn’t entirely unlikely.