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watchOS 3 arrives to make your Apple Watch a lot faster to use

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Apple is releasing a major update for the original Apple Watch today. watchOS 3 is designed to overhaul the Watch entirely, from the way apps load to how you launch them and use the watch interface. You'll need to connect your Apple Watch to your iPhone and launch the Watch app to check for software updates and install watchOS 3. Installing watchOS 3 will require 50 percent charge and for the watch to be connected to a charger during install.

So what's new? Apple has made one big change that alters the way you interact with apps in watchOS 3. Instead of launching a list of contacts, the Watch's side button now opens a new dock feature. It's designed to show recently used apps and favorite ones that you want quick access to. If you have an app in the dock then it will open instantly when launched, a much better experience than watchOS 2. It's a huge change to the way you will interact with apps on the Watch, and it makes things like setting a timer just way more convenient during day-to-day use.

watchOS 3

If you got bored of being told when to stand, Apple is now reminding Apple Watch owners to breathe with watchOS 3. The new app triggers a notification daily to step through deep breathing exercises. It's a little more fun than simply standing up, but the notifications get just as irritating so you can disable them in settings.

Apple is also bringing three new watchfaces with watchOS 3: Minnie Mouse, Numerals, and Activity. Minnie Mouse is self explanatory, and the face is similar to the existing Mickey one with a dress that can change color. Numbers is one of the more basic watchfaces for the Apple Watch, with hands and a single number. Activity is designed for those who actively track their activity levels with the Apple Watch. The new face includes an enlarged view of the daily activity rings so you can see clearly whether you need to stand up more or simply get more active during the day to complete a goal.

Outside of the bigger changes, Apple is also adding a bunch of smaller features. Workouts are now being extended to developers, so apps will be able to access the heart rate sensor. You can even use the Watch to log into a Mac without a password, and there's a new wheelchair setting that lets users add wheelchair pushes to activity logs. Apple Pay has been integrated into apps on the watch, and you can quickly write text on the screen to scribble replies to messages. There are more smaller changes, too, and overall the software update makes the Apple Watch feel a lot more responsive. It hasn't solved why you'd want to use apps on your wrist instead of your phone, but it makes them a lot easier to use so that you might just opt for them more often.

Apple's watchOS 3 software update is available free for all first-generation Apple Watch devices, and it ships with the Apple Watch Series 2 on Friday. Third-party app developers are starting to release their new apps today, and ESPN, MLS, NBA, Runkeeper, and Runtastic will all have updated apps that support the new features found in watchOS 3.


watchOS 3 and more Apple watch updates