watchOS 2 Review: Better OS, Better Apple Watch

The new operating system for the Apple Watch, fittingly named watchOS 2, breathes life into Apple’s embattled smart watch. It’s a great device, but it had the notion of not being useful, considering its rather expensive price.

Regardless, buyers – particularly those planning to avail Apple Watch Hermes – and current users of the device are likely to enjoy it. Though its release was hampered by a bug which forced its delay, the software has been available for download for a couple of weeks.

It’s safe to say that Apple has worked on the existing problems of the previous operating system and it’s a complete upgrade.

Improved performance

If watchOS is the prototype, then watchOS 2 is the finished product: the watch now performs better. The previous operating system awkwardly took seconds to load an app, whether it may be the weather or the mail app. We can’t exactly say how many seconds were shed off, but I guarantee that you will be spending less time standing in the middle of a sidewalk, blankly staring at your wrist.

Yes, the loading screen is still there but the waiting times are a tad shorter and a whole lot bearable.

3rd-party apps

The best thing about watchOS 2 is that it now allows 3rd-party applications to run DIRECTLY on the device whereas first operating system only allowed the iPhone to do so, while mirroring info on the watch.

Though most apps are still in development, it’s only a matter of time before we see them available for download. There’s a lot to look forward to as well: Apple has opened up the Apple Watch’s various sensors and capabilities to developers. This means future applications can now utilize the device’s heart rate sensor and other pieces of hardware.

Customizable watch faces

Finally, there are new watch faces – the previous watchOS only had ones approved by Johnny Ive, Apple’s chief designer.

In watchOS 2, you can now use a photo album or the whole content of your Photos app on your iPhone – and it can automatically change by simply raising your wrist to view the time. There are also faces which depict iconic landmarks in famous cities around the world. The most notable ones include Paris, New York, London, and Shanghai.

This is a welcome development and something you can look forward to: it’s not much of an addition, but at least it can make you grin every time a random photo pops up.

Newer complications

Third party applications can now add complications – or little app widgets – on the watch face. They may vary from weather, transit time, or even reminders. As of the moment, there is a glaring lack of apps which provide these, but the number will definitely increase soon.

However, Apple has not allowed developers to create or customize their own complications. Regardless, this is an obvious addition which we can look forward to in the future editions of the watchOS.

Nightstand mode

The watchOS 2 can double as a nightstand: just plug it in with the charger, at night and set the time.

When the watch is currently on this mode, the LCD will display a greenish hue, along with vital information such as the time, date, charge state, and the time the alarm goes off. When the alarm goes off, pressing the side button turns it off.

It’s a smaller alarm clock than an iPhone, but it’s still capable of waking you up.

Time Travel

I enjoyed this feature. Though it does not allow you to go back in time, it allows you to see both the past and upcoming events on the modular screen simply by turning the digital crown. Along with the time, the weather, calendar events, and even the weather, depending on the set complications.

Other than these, you can also spin back to view earlier sports scores and earlier stock information.

A little independence

With watchOS 2, the Apple Watch has been given a bit of a leeway. Though it is still highly dependent on an iPhone, the watch can now connect to WiFi networks to send messages, set responses, and emojis. You can also make or receive calls thanks to this, which means you may no longer need to bring your phone around – as long as you’re connected to a WiFi network, that is.

So, should you install it?

You will be missing out on a lot if you don’t and you’re crazy if you don’t upgrade in my opinion. It has a ton of new features, upgrades, new fixes, and eliminated security issues, so yes, you NEED to.

However, there are still issues (like the loading times and the lack of apps) that need to be addressed. But those aside, watchOS 2 is really going to set the tone for future upgrades. Just a reminder, though, – the update can take a few hours, so be sure to perform it if you can afford leaving it home in a charger.

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