The Apple Watch is set to get a lot more powerful thanks to the all-new watchOS 2, the first major platform update for the wearable. Apple’s next watch software is due to launch this fall, but here’s a look at just some of the new things Watch app developers will be able to offer with their native software on the platform – over and above basics like running apps on the Watch itself.
1. Create Passes
watchOS 2 fully supports Apple’s Passkit tech, meaning apps on the Watch will be able to generate their own Passes to work with Passbook (to be renamed Wallet in iOS9). Previously, passes had to be added on the iPhone, and would be mirrored on the Apple Watch.
This means you’ll be able to do things like get concert or conference tickets via notifications from Watch apps and add them to your Wallet immediately, without any intervening step on your phone. That could be handy for location-based passes generated without much advance notice, or for the new loyalty card support in the instance of sign-up offers made via digital receipts, for example.
2. Start Phone Calls And Send Texts
Third-party apps will be able to directly dial phone numbers and send text messages to the same in watchOS 2, which means you’ll be able to do things like ask after menu options in an application like Yelp or share some interesting content from within a media app.
It’s another thing that we take for granted on the phone, but that might make the Watch more flexible and capable as a true ‘Dick Tracy’ device. The only downside is that we might start thinking of talking to your wrist as perfectly normal behavior.
3. Use Custom Pre-Set Text Replies
You can now reply to notifications from third-party Watch apps the way you could to text messages in watchOS 1, but a key detail with this feature is that developers can define the pre-set, canned responses on an app-by-app basis. This means you can create ready-made responses that are most appropriate to your particular software.
Apps will likely also be able to let users tweak their own responses, which means users will have far more flexibility in how they communicate in general in watchOS 2, across all their favourite communication channels.
4. Record Audio
You can now record audio directly from your wrist, using the Apple Watch’s built-in microphone, and then use that in messages, notes, or for whatever else you might want to do.
That will likely enable things like quickly dictating notes to things like Evernote, but it could conceivably also enable unique features, like recording simultaneous voiceover while shooting video with your iPhone on a tripod, for instance.
5. Play Video
Apps can now play short video on the Apple Watch, which seems kind of a weird use case, but which could be genuinely powerful depending on your specific use case. Imagine a sub-10 second breaking news clip, for instance, which is already fairly commonplace on real-time news platforms like Twitter.
Vine is already embracing this, in fact, and is the first official user of this new feature as demonstrated in Apple’s WWDC 2015 keynote. We’ll have to wait and see how pleasant this actually is to use in practice, but it will probably have a lot of media properties experimenting, given the current appetite for video content among online media companies today. Plus a cat video over iMessage can be plenty entertaining at 10 seconds or less.