WatchOS 3 supercharges the Apple Watch with extra speed and Minnie Mouse

Apple knows WatchOS, which operates on the Apple Watch, isn’t the fastest piece of software out there, and it’s going to solve the problem with WatchOS 3. This major update adds new features, brand new apps, and some significant performance improvements, which promise to transform the Apple Watch from snail to hare.

Here’s everything we know about WatchOS 3, including all its cool new features. You’ll be able to download the update on September 13, so get your Apple Watch ready!

Speed up

Apple-WatchOS-WWDC-2016_0020

“Our top focus is performance,” said Apple’s VP of Technology Kevin Lynch. In WatchOS 3, the lag in current Watch software has been cured — apps should respond instantly, and the information contained within them will be updated instantly. In a demonstration, the WatchOS 2 app took a few seconds to respond, but with WatchOS 3 the app appeared almost instantly. Lynch said apps on the Watch load seven times faster, but “it feels like a million times faster.”

Control Center

Apple-WatchOS-WWDC-2016_006

WatchOS 3 adds a new Control Center in the dock for quickly accessed features, that appears when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It contains the battery percentage, the option to activate airplane mode, and options to silence the Watch. Hit the side button, and you’ll get a list of glanceable apps, all with live updates. Notifications still come down from the top of the screen.

Scribble

Apple-WatchOS-WWDC-2016_007

Much like a feature on Android Wear, Scribble lets you draw letters on the screen to quick reply to messages. They appear on top of each other, so there’s no need to draw small letters. The app is compatible with English and Chinese languages, and matches to the selected language on your iPhone.

Watch faces

We all know Mickey Mouse is a standard face, and now he’s being joined by Minnie Mouse, with cute outfits to match the color of your band. Apple’s eye-catching rings that show your fitness and progress towards your daily movement goal have been made into a Watch face, too; plus there’s Numerals, a very simple minimalist face. Changing Watch faces quickly is easier with WatchOS 3, and an edge-to-edge swipe scrolls through available faces, which can be re-ordered to your preference.

SOS

SOS is a new critical response feature accessed by pressing and holding the side button. This pulls up a countdown to call 911 from the phone or watch. Once connected and the call has been made, it sends messages to important contacts along with location data. Finally, it shows your medical ID on the screen. Perhaps best of all, SOS works internationally, and the Apple Watch even knows the local emergency numbers, just in case you don’t.

Activity sharing

WatchOS_WWDC16_02

Apple’s added a new fitness app, all geared towards more motivation. In Activity Sharing, you swipe right from the activity screen to see how your family and friends rings are matching up. Sort by which rings are most important to you, and communicate directly through the app with messages, smart replies that are geared to fitness, and the Scribble feature. After a workout, you can also send your heart rate and audio messages to friends.

Wheelchair settings

WatchOS_WWDC16_04

Wheelchair users are being directly catered for in WatchOS 3, with specially created new fitness mechanics specifically based on the techniques used to push the wheels on the chair. It includes special settings and activities, such as Time to Roll, with optimized rings. Apple worked with wheel chair groups to ensure the settings are exactly right.

Breathe

Apple-WatchOS-WWDC-2016_0026

Breathe is a new health app, providing guided deep breathing sessions to the Watch wearer. A form of yoga, it’s accessible through the dock, and all the details are shown on the watch face. The time limit for the guided session is adjustable using the crown, and the breathing techniques are illustrated with visuals or with haptic feedback. Once you’re done, the app takes your heart rate and presents a summary of the session at the end. There’s also a smart reminder feature to help make Breathe a regular habit.

New developer tools

Developers will have some new toys to play with in WatchOS 3, including Apple Pay support in the app, and the chance to run fitness apps in the background. They can also use sprite kit support video, Game Center, audio and speaker features, and have access to the Digital Crown and touch screen support. These features will help make apps richer, and more helpful.

Home Theater

With tvOS 12.3, Apple’s TV app begins its platform-conquering journey

Apple's redesigned TV app experience is here, and it's on Apple TV, iOS, and even some smart TVs. But what exactly is this new experience and how is it different than Roku, Amazon, and others? We've got the answers.
Deals

Apple Watches get steep smartwatch discounts for Memorial Day

If you've been thinking about picking up a new wearable, an Apple Watch is one of the best smartwatches you can buy. With Memorial Day sales from Walmart and Amazon springing up all over the place, now is a great time to save.
Android

Keep up-to-date with the best news apps on iPhone and Android

Are the days of traditional newspapers and broadcast news dwindling? With apps this good, maybe. Catch up on the latest headlines on any platform with the best news apps on iOS and Android.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for May 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

The Garmin Forerunner 35 gets a $50 price slash on Amazon

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep track of your fitness goals, a fitness tracker might be just what you need. The Garmin Forerunner 35 is one of our all-time favorites, and it’s on sale right now for $120.
Apple

AirPods deal alert: Apple’s latest wireless earphones are at their lowest price

Apple just refreshed its AirPods, making an solid product even better. The newest AirPods make the case chargeable using Qi charging, always-on Siri, and better Bluetooth connectivity. While they're out of stock on Amazon, you can order now…
Wearables

Samsung adds One UI and battery boosts to Galaxy Watch and Gear smartwatches

Samsung has updated software for its Galaxy Watch, Gear Sport, and Gear S3 watches to implement its updated and simplified One UI interface. The update also offers new watch faces, battery life improvements, and health and fitness features.
Deals

REI Anniversary Sale: Save big on these awesome Garmin smartwatches

If you’re in the market for a full-featured smartwatch that can do double duty as a detailed fitness tracker, look no further: For its Anniversary Sale, REI is offering savings of up to $150 on a few of the best Garmin fitness watches.
Mobile

Google’s new $999 augmented reality smartglasses are ready for business

Google unveiled Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, a new version of its business-focused augmented reality wearable. The company's smartglasses ship with a faster processor, an updated camera, and safety frames from Smith Optics.
Deals

REI cuts prices on Garmin Fenix 5 and Suunto 3 fitness smartwatches

REI is currently dropping prices on Garmin Fenix and Suunto smartwatches for its anniversary sale. With fitness tracking, GPS, and smartphone connectivity, a solid wearable is one of the best companions outdoorsmen could wish for.
Computing

Apple sends out invites for WWDC 2019, and unicorns are involved

Apple developers and fans alike look forward every year to the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, better known as WWDC. Apple has confirmed the conference will take place on June 3-7, and the company just sent out invites.
Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.
Mobile

Amazon is reportedly building a wearable that can track your emotions

Amazon may be looking to enter the wearable space. According to a new report, Amazon is looking into building a wearable device that can track a user's emotions, which would be a first for a fitness-tracking device.
Apple

Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear Sport get price cuts in Amazon sale

Smartwatches are more in style than ever, with the world of wearables now inundated with options. Two big brands are now available at deep discounts, with the Apple Watch Series 3 and the Samsung Gear Sport smartwatches on sale on Amazon.