In typical fashion, there’s been no official word on when we’ll see an Apple Watch 2 launch this year though there are rumours it’ll be later down the line. But 15 March is the next big A event and we’re still hoping Cupertino will let a second-gen device loose on the world.
Prices of the original Apple smartwatch are already getting slashed, possibly making way for the Apple Watch S – or whatever name Cupertino comes up with.
Though new hardware would be nice (perhaps a round option like the Samsung Gear S2 or Moto 360?), it’s the software that we’re really expecting to see an update for. We’ve already seen the lack of functionality from the stock watchOS where apps were an extension rather than native experiences.
Essential reading: Check out our comprehensive guide to the Apple Watch
Apple attempted to rectify the problems with watchOS 2, which did bring much more to the table by finally allowing native apps, more watch faces and even letting you watch tiny videos. But there’s still no real killer feature that makes us rave about the Apple Watch.
As we count down to the Apple event, here’s our list of what we want from watchOS 3.
Make it untethered
This is a long shot considering many smartwatches are handset-dependent…or is it? The Gear S2 Classic with 3G will ship in March and has just become the first device equipped with an eSIM – which lets users program it to whatever network they want.
It’s also the result of a huge collaboration between tech’s biggest names including Samsung, Qualcomm, Microsoft and what do you know, Apple too.
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The major networks are all on board: ATT, CK Hutchison, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, EE, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Rogers, Sprint, Telefónica, Verizon, Vodafone and more.
The idea is that, not only does the eSIM mean wearable devices can be made smaller and still have cellular connectivity, but users will be able to share their network data plans across multiple devices without having to remove the card inside.
The Apple Watch is already one of the top selling smartwatches on the market – allowing the watchOS 3 to employ eSIM capabilities while making it an untethered would be a killing.
Better performance and battery life
Extended battery life has been the biggest hurdle for wearables and Apple has certainly been guilty of the two-day battery.
Similar to Qualcomm’s approach, using a slimmed down CPU could allow improved longevity without hindering the performance.
The OS would also be a lot zippier, allow more room for app data and more. Right now, there’s an annoyingly long load time for apps and laggy apps in general which is simple unacceptable for such an expensive device.
Though not particularly groundbreaking, iOS 9 did provide iPhone users with new “Peek and Pop” functionality. You can preview all kinds of content and act on it without having to actually open it on the iPhone.
For example, with a light press you can Peek at an email in your inbox then when you want to open one, press a little harder to Pop into it.
It may be a little difficult to implement on such a small screen and there would definitely need to be a new Apple Watch since the tech is both software and hardware. Still, it’d be interesting to see if Apple could come up with a parallel feature to match 3D Touch.
You should be able to choose what the side button does. The Digital Crown seems harder to customize since it’s tied to the zooming in/out and opening the apps interface.
However the side button shouldn’t be chained to the friends feature. It’s probably the least used feature since not everyone has an Apple Watch to send and receive sketches.
The recent Android Wear Marshmallow update allows new features focusing on voice actions and gestures.
Right now, Apple Watch gestures aren’t really part of interactions with watchOS 2 and at most, pretty standard. You can cover the watch face to silence it and flick your wrist for the face to turn on (depending on your watch face settings) while the others involve the Digital Crown.
One of the most useful gestures Android Wear released was flicking the wrist to dismiss and scroll through notifications – if Apple can figure out a similar action, watchOS 3 would be infinitely hands-free. If not, the Apple Watch will feel far less convenient than its competitors.
Speed up Siri
Speaking of voice actions, Siri could do with an improvement too. OS 2 has certainly given the AI a boost allowing Glances, HomeKit and Maps, as well as providing direct access to workouts.
But Siri sure takes her sweet time finding you an answer. The AI seems pretty slow on the smartwatch and sometimes, can’t even accurately hear you.
Improve Workouts app
At the moment, Apple’s own Workout app can barely keep up with all the fitness apps you can download.
There’s also no GPS, meaning you can’t accurately track runs. However, the Apple Watch can steal GPS data when running with an iPhone, which isn’t what most people want to hear.
In general, the colorful circles can’t do much else in terms of accuracy and tracking. Our testing has the watch telling us we burned 600 calories doing nothing.
Open SDK for watch faces
There are so many watch faces you can download for Android Wear, Pebble and even Samsung’s watches. Why not Apple?
Quite a few more faces, complications and customizations appeared in the last update but opening up the development kit would allow much more.
Softpedia thinks a job opening (that’s no longer viewable) at Apple for a new software engineer to work on the Apple Watch face team suggests we’ll see a slew of options in the future.
Include Notes and other stock apps
Where most stock apps on Apple phones are considered bloatware, there are actually a few that would be welcome on watchOS 3.
Notes and Voice Memos come to mind as tools missing from the current iteration of watchOS. There’s several third-party apps that allow these features but curiously, none from Apple.
What do you want from watchOS 3? Let us know using the comments below.