watchOS 3 Brings Apple Watch 2

Last week while at WWDC, I loaded the iOS 10 beta onto one of my iPads. It’s been a lot more stable than I expected it to be and this experience led me to do something a little crazy. I loaded the iOS beta on my iPhone. Usually (well …maybe always) it’s a bad idea to load the first iteration of a beta operating system on that thing that you use every day to make money and pay your bills. However buoyed by the success on the iPad, I threw caution to the wind and did it anyway. This reckless act wasn’t so much a result of any particular new feature I wanted on the phone so much as my desire to find out if the improvements to the Apple Watch are for real. So I did and they are.

For almost a week now, I’ve had my watch running watch OS 3.0. It’s faster, more responsive, and I suddenly find myself using third-party applications again. I can attest that the improvements are not merely hypothetical but, if you give it a chance, can drastically change the way you use your Apple Watch.

I’ve now set up several watch faces that are task oriented. I have one for work, one for fitness, and one for home. The complications on each face are different and switching between them is a simple matter of swiping left or right on the current watch face. From these three watch faces I can get easy access to just about anything I need.

Likewise the watchOS Dock works swimmingly. I’ve pressed the physical button for the Dock more times in the last week than I did in the prior year when it was the Friends button. The background refresh of Dock-based apps is the killer feature here. I can actually now consider some third party apps that hold time sensitive data without worrying whether or not they’ll be up-to-date.

I’m quite impressed with Apple’s ability to go back to the drawing board and improve the user interface of the Apple Watch. I’m even more impressed, however, that they are squeezing this much better performance out of the exact same pokey hardware I had a week ago. I simply didn’t think it was possible.

I’ve still got the occasional crash to deal with (it is, after all, beta software) but, once the bugs are ironed out and the software ships in the fall, a lot of people are going to be surprised at how perky their Apple Watch becomes.