With the arrival of Apple Watch Series 2 and watchOS 3, the experience on the world’s bestselling smartwatch is about to get a whole lot more interesting. Features like built-in, phone-free GPS; a brighter screen; a multi-core processor and improved graphics chip; and water resistance down to 50m all make for on-wrist functionality that just wasn’t available before.
Once the developers get busy, we’ll be updating our best Apple Watch apps list but, until then, here are the Apple Watch Series 2 apps we’re looking forward to. Which ones would sway you?
Mindfulness has been a buzzword in lifestyle improvement for the past few years and Apple’s taken this to heart and wrist by building in some covert meditation. As Nepalese teacher Mingyur Rinpoche described so eloquently, meditation only needs to be as brief as a few breaths each day to make a difference to your state of mind.
Breathe reminds you to do just that every four hours or so and will then keep a log of how many minutes of inner peace you’ve managed. The app is also designed to show you how it actually makes a measurable difference by presenting you with your reduction in heart rate. It’s very simple but very effective.
Workout – Swimming
Both open water and pool swimming workouts have been added to the Workout app showing off Series 2’s new water resistant feature but it’s the lengths that Apple have gone to that make us want to try it. The sessions measure the laps and pacing that you’d expect but there’s set to be a more accurate measure of calorie burn than any other aqua gadget.
Apple has created an algorithm which takes into account body type and swimming ability based on analysis of over 700 swimmers, their lactic acid levels and blood samples. This algorithm is also set to improve as it learns about how you exercise in the water. It’s some big talk. We want to see if it’s got the minerals to back it up.
Combining both smart home and smartwatches in a single app, it should be of little surprise to you that we’ve got our eye on watchOS 3’s built-in Home app. Details are on the thin side for the time being but we know it’s not the same in-depth experience a you’ll get on the iPhone. There are lighting controls for supported connected bulbs, though, with both preset scenes to choose from as well as more granular control.
The watch will communicate with your smart home kit to activate and deactivate alarms, locks and the like as you come and go; give you video of who’s at your front door and allow you to check your thermostat. Most impressive of all, though, is the list of compatible HomeKit products. The notable and obvious absence of Google-owned Nest aside, it’s a comprehensive crew.
Like it or loathe it, Pokémon Go is a thing and while the Apple Watch Pokémon Go app might be a bit late for the mass hysteria, there’s still a sizeable hardcore of addict trainers left now that the tidal wave has receded. The clever part is that the Watch app allows all your Pokémon foraging fitness data to be integrated with your Health app.
On top of that, you’ve probably got a better chance of finding Pokémon because you’ll never miss an on-wrist alert. You’ll probably also look marginally less foolish walking round trying to find them than you would be with a smartphone. If you’re already hooked, prepare to find out just how deep that rabbit – we mean Diglett – hole goes.
The Viewranger app itself is not new but it’s one of the first to take advantage of the Apple Watch Series 2 and its built-in GPS capabilities. Now, instead of just picking trails and heading off into the wild blue yonder, the app gets a little more knowhow when it comes to keeping you on track.
Of course, it will suggest the nearest walks and cycle rides once booted up, based on your location, but the clever part is that you’ll get a little warning if it notices that you’ve started stepping too far off the trail. Turn-by-turn navigation might not be everyone’s idea of embracing nature but when the app gives you interesting gems of information along the way, well, that kind of enrichment is hard to ignore. Oh, did we mention that Viewranger can do all this without mobile and data signals? It can do that.
Find My Friends
A lot of people get squeamish about location apps and for very good reasons but there are also plenty of handy use cases out there – particularly for families – which won’t end up revealing terrible deceit. Find My Friends will come as standard for watchOS 3 and it’s an opportunity to receive geo-fenced alerts when your children make it to school or when your mates are on a night out within a few hundred metres of you. Naturally, you can make yourself invisible whenever you wish.
Find My Friends has never quite got the traction it quite deserves on mobile. We’re curious to see if it can be more relevant as a more obvious buzz and a glance away.
Your favourite news app
It might be the BBC, the Wall Street Journal or ESPN; whatever your regular news hit, it’s about to get a whole lot better with watchOS 3. Finally, Apple’s on-wrist firmware will allow apps to run in the background with special space for the ones you use most often.
Combined with the faster processor, that will mean that you don’t have to wait for the headlines to update once you’ve open up your news app of choice. Fingers crossed, even if you’re out of signal, you should still be presented with what’s more or less the latest stories.
“In trying to bring a view of the heavens to your wrist, Night Sky tries too hard – it takes ages to render and is clunky to navigate, even if you do get information about celestial bodies” we wrote in our round up of the best Apple Watch apps for Series 1.
So, seeing how this piece of software runs with that all new processor and GPU combo will be a really good indicator of just how far Apple Watch has come. Tim Cook is so confident that he used Night Sky as an on-stage example of just how smoothly graphics work now. The app itself also provides a cloud cover clock and star gazing alerts.
It’s the app they hope you never have to use, so it’s not as if we’re looking forward to trying it ourselves, although that time I broke my collarbone in Lisbon springs to mind. Press and hold the side button of any Watch with watchOS 3 and it’ll dial the emergency services local to wherever you are in the world.
If you’ve added medical info like your age, allergies and such, then that gets beamed over too. SOS also fires out a message to your emergency contacts with a map of your location plus a help request. I wonder how long until needing a ride home becomes the excuse for SOS abuse?