First impressions: Apple’s watchOS 3

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I upgraded my first generation Apple Watch the night after updating all my iOS devices to iOS 10. (For those who have never done it, you have to have the watch charged to at least 50% and it has to be on the charger. Also, your phone has to be on wifi.) While the initial look hasn’t changed that dramatically, under the hood, there are many improvements. For one, Glances are no longer a thing. Neither is the dedicated “Friends” button. Both of these are Good Things™.


Actual iOS 10 upgrade in process for all my devices – without a net!

Glances, for those who haven’t dug in deeply, were snapshots of apps that could be pulled up quickly, without referencing the app or the phone. You could tap and get to the app, but that usually took a lot of time to launch and update. Now, the apps are continually refreshed with new data, and they launch really quickly. I’m talking instantly instead of 20-30 seconds. It makes me want to use more third-party apps, and has found me revisiting those that I had previously removed for performance reasons.

The Side Button, which initially called up a screen of your Favorites, was expanded in watchOS 2, but has been changed completely in watchOS 3. It now launches a “Dock” of apps that you can customize completely. There is also a slot for the most recently run app, with a button to add it to the dock. Notably, you can now edit the dock’s order on the watch itself (Glances had to be reordered from the Apple Watch app on your iPhone), which is the new norm. To reorder, just hold an app in the dock for a second, and you’ll see an ordinal positioning appear (e.g. 3 of 6). Drag left or right to change its place in the order. If you decide you don’t want to keep an item there, flick it up, and it’ll give you the option to remove it from the dock. The furtherest to the right is the most recent non-docked app that has run. While in the dock, there is a “Keep in Dock” button below it with obvious functionality.

I’m still playing with the new iMessages, weather, and a few third-party apps, but overall, I am really liking the changes. Overall, things seem to run faster, cleaner. Fewer instances of the pinwheel. I’ll be back for a deeper dive after a little time has gone by. Wirecutter did a pretty nice overview, if you just can’t wait.

4 thoughts on “First impressions: Apple’s watchOS 3”

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  2. Got a note from a reader about battery life, and, while I have not seen much impact to my battery with 7 apps in my dock, there are some folks saying that having loads of apps in your Dock can lower your battery life considerably. (Also, I have a 42mm model, which has more room for a larger battery than the 38mm.) Fortunately, you have to proactively add apps to the dock, rather than have them all there, and then have to remove any offenders. Just be aware of any “chatty” apps that you add there. (Mail, Facebook, Twitter, Messages, etc.) If it’s constantly pinging the network, you’ll pay in usage time. But that’s the balance we always have to strike, isn’t it?

  3. I would go as far as to say my battery is lasting a bit longer! I’m loving the new features in WOS3 especially the docked apps and the ability to customise faces on the phone and load onto watch.

  4. Yeah, I found battery life improved on my aw0 model 42mm.. with wOS3. I did take an un-pair re-pair cycle, but bl was improved.. now with the aw2 model, 42mm it’s lasting nearly two days with one full 1 hour workout in the middle.

  5. I have not kept actual logs, but I am not seeing the need to worry about running low on battery with watchOS 3 on my original 42mm. And with the new performance and features, I’m also not sure why I would upgrade. I always carry my phone when I’m out biking or walking, so the GPS independence from the phone doesn’t tempt me. Sure, a faster processor would shave off a few seconds from my day’s watch glances. And, FWIW, I have a standing offer from several friends to buy my “gently used” current model. It still has a year of AppleCare Plus on it! So I could get almost as much as I paid for it and have the opportunity to update at the new pricing. We’ll have to see what happens, I guess. Still no “killer app” out there, but there are some great devs pushing the edges of what can be done. 1Password is my favorite thing right now.

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