​Apple WWDC 2015: Apple Watch OS update, third party native apps on tap

Apple's next Apple Watch OS update is likely to improve performance with third party apps and boost the overall usefulness of the device.

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Updated: Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is updating its Watch OS to better support native apps and add a bevy of features six weeks after the Apple Watch was made available.

The move should eliminate some of the clunkiness with the Apple Watch and third party apps and ultimately enable more so-called killer apps.

Cook said:

Today we're bringing native apps to the Watch with a new version of the Watch OS, which gives the developers even more time to create even greater apps.

In May, Apple updated the watch software to address complaints with third party apps and activity tracking.

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As noted in the initial Apple Watch reviews, third party apps didn't perform nearly as well as the company's native ones. Stein noted:

All third-party Apple apps work by cross-loading an extension onto the watch while an app also lives on the iPhone, a bit like Google's Android Wear apps. As a result, these apps work more like remote phone apps -- they tend to load slowly and seem to stream data into the watch...No third-party apps work when the watch is disconnected from your iPhone...yet.

Apple's May software update may have improved performance, but the native support is a big deal. In other words, Apple Watch will have more apps that perform as well as the ones embedded on the device. These apps could also possibly work offline and make the Apple Watch more useful.

Cook said the support of native third party apps and the Watch OS update "is a giant moment." "This is how we felt when we launched the App Store," said Cook.

The company is moving fast with an OS update given that the Apple Watch was only available six weeks ago.

The key updates include:

  • New timepiece functions,
  • Maps and Siri improvements;
  • New watch faces;
  • Albums that can shuffle;
  • The addition of the Time Travel feature;
  • The ability to rotate the digital crown to go forward and backward through time and information.
  • A nightstand mode with alarms;
  • Communication via groups;
  • Digital drawings.
  • And more importantly the ability to reply to emails.

The Watch OS 2 also has health and fitness improvements, maps and directions and Siri additions.

Overall, Apple is adding a bevy of new features to the Apple Watch and opening it up more to developers. Bottom line is that Apple is looking to grab a lead with the ecosystem.