watchOS 2

Apple Watch apps kinda suck, but Cupertino hopes you won’t notice

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watch bands march 21 apple event
Apple Watch apps were conspicuous in their absence at this week's Apple event.
Photo: Apple

At this week’s “Let us loop you in” keynote, Apple revealed a major shift in its smartwatch strategy. Tim Cook tried to dress it up by announcing new Apple Watch bands and a price drop, but the most significant aspect was what he did not say: There was no mention of third-party Watch apps.

After Monday’s keynote, Apple updated its website with a new marketing proposition that represents a tacit acknowledgment that, right now, Apple Watch is only good for three things: notifications, fitness and health.

What happened to the idea that there is an app for everything?

Apple drops new betas for iOS 9, tvOS, watchOS and OS X El Capitan

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iOS 9.3 beta 6 is here!
iOS 9.3 beta 6 is here!
Photo: Apple

Apple is ready to kick off the new year with a batch of beta software for testing. The company just made new builds of iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2, tvOS 9.2 and OS X 10.11.4 available to developers.

The new pre-release versions of iOS, tvOS and OS X can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center. Testers won’t be able to install watchOS 2.2 on their timepieces until their iPhone, iPad or iPad touch has been updated with the new Apple Watch app in iOS 9.3 beta 1.

Apple drops new software for Watch and TV, too

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WatchOS 2.0.1 is out.
WatchOS 2.0.1 is out.
Photo: Apple

The first big updates for iOS 9 and El Capitan were released by Apple this morning, but the company has some smaller updates for the Apple Watch and Apple TV 4, too.

The GM for tvOS was seeded today to developers who already got their hands on the early release Apple TV 4 units. That software will be the final version the new set-top box ships with next week. Apple Watch owners also received an update in the form of watchOS 2.0.1.

The Apple Watch update contains the following fixes:

Where are all the watchOS 2 fitness apps?

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Runtastic's text is sometimes too small to read while running
Runtastic's text is sometimes too small to read while running
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

WatchOS 2 offers cool new features for third-party fitness apps. But a week after its launch, most leading fitness apps have yet to go native and take advantage of the Apple Watch update.

So what’s up? The answer may lie in Apple’s new workout API, which does not provide the GPS coordinates required for apps to map your run or cycle ride.

Does Apple Watch really need a ‘killer app’?

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1_1024
What's wrong with thousands of great apps?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch is missing a “killer app.”

At least that’s what some say. Apple’s first wearable has been selling well, but its inability to convince everyone they need a smartwatch since it went on sale in late April is being blamed on its lack of stellar software by some analysts. But are they right?

Friday-Night-Fights-bug-2Does Apple Watch really need a killer app to become the next iPod (in sales terms), or will it do perfectly well with thousands of great apps?

Join us as we battle it out over these questions and more in this week’s Friday Night Fight between Cult of Android and Cult of Mac!

Pro Tip: Your Apple Watch’s Activation Lock may already be on

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Apple Watch Siri
Yes, Siri. It's already on.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bugThis week’s release of watchOS 2 brings a much-needed security update to Apple’s wearable by adding Activation Lock to the device, and the great news is that you may not even have to do anything to add it.

Activation Lock has been around for a while for other Apple devices, and its purpose is to keep thieves from using them even if they manage to get ahold of your preciouses. The first version of watchOS only included basic locking features and a passkey, which wouldn’t keep smart evildoers from gaining access to sensitive data like your Apple Pay data.

Here’s how the feature shows up on the Apple Watch.

10 native apps that give Apple Watch some independence

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Native apps, like Dark Sky, take advantage of the new OS for Apple Watch.
Native apps, like Dark Sky, take advantage of the new OS for Apple Watch.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The future of computing may be sitting on your wrist, but it’s still tethered to something a little old-fashioned. But as of Monday, the Apple Watch’s new operating system allows it to cut a few of the cords that connect it to the iPhone.

Apple’s watchOS 2 debuted, giving the watch new superpowers but also allowing native apps to run independently of the iPhone.

How to set up third-party complications in watchOS 2

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watchOS 2 third party complications
Third-party complications are here in watchOS 2.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Third-party complications have arrived to the Apple Watch in watchOS 2, and setting them up is far from complicated.

The new operating system for Apple’s wearable dropped this week, and this is one of the features the company has talked up the most. And rightly so, because it adds a ton of new functionality to the device.

Here’s how to put a wealth of new information on your watch face.

Become an Apple Watch time traveler with watchOS 2

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Time travel without a flux capacitor - right on your wrist.
Time travel without a flux capacitor - right on your wrist.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

If there’s one thing we could all benefit from, it’s more time in the day. Unfortunately, Time Travel on the new Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 2, won’t actually let you travel back in time to get a few extra hours of Netflix in, no matter which edition you purchased.

However, watchOS 2 does now include a new feature called Time Travel, which lets you see the past and future right on your wrist. You can check what the weather will be a few hours from now for your drive home, see if you’ve got any appointments later in the day, or just figure out what time the sun set yesterday to prove you were home before it got dark.

Either way, here’s how to Time Travel on your Apple Watch running watchOS 2.

4 watchOS 2 improvements you didn’t know you wanted

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Apple Watch Update
The new custom faces aren't the only great part of watchOS 2.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple’s second major iteration of its wearable firmware, watchOS 2, is finally out today, and it has some extra fun features hiding along with all of the ones the company has been talking about since it first announced the update back in June.

Sure, native apps and custom watch faces are cool, but watchOS 2 also contains some smaller updates that you have to look for. Here are some of the hidden gems.

Give your Apple Watch a facelift with watchOS 2

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Apple Watch is a killer device, even without a
Apple Watch is a killer device, even without a "killer app."
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

I was so excited to have a color screen on my Apple Watch when I picked the Sport up this past April.

When I went through all the watch faces, though, I was rather underwhelmed; really, you have a bright, high-resolution monitor on your wrist and all you can do is put a moving moth or Mickey Mouse on it? Ugh.

Luckily, with watchOS 2, Apple’s made things just a little brighter and a little more animated. Here’s how to get these snappy new watch faces on your own Apple Watch.

Critical bug delays watchOS 2 release

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watchOS 2 is available to developers today.
Or the next day. Or the day after that.
Photo: Apple

If you’ve been anxiously waiting to upgrade your Apple Watch to watchOS 2 today — well, sadly, you’re out of luck.

Despite announcing last week that watchOS 2 and iOS 9 would be released today, Apple has just dropped the bombshell that Apple Watch users won’t be upgrading their operating systems quite yet, thanks to the discovery of a critical bug.

How to install watchOS 2 on your Apple Watch the right way

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Can't wait for all the new Watch stuff? Here's how to install watchOS 2.
Can't wait for all the new Watch stuff? Here's how to install watchOS 2.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Update: Apple has delayed deployment of watchOS 2, possibly for a day or more, after discovering a bug that’s taking longer to fix than expected.

Are you ready? It’s finally time to update your Apple Watch to watchOS 2. The software upgrade will let you run third-party apps right on the Watch without your iPhone, add nightstand mode and new watch faces (including your own photos), and much more.

If you’re ready to make it so, read on and get all these new features on your wrist today.

Short and sweet: All the new magical stuff from Apple’s big event

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Tim cook
Apple and Tim Cook have plenty to cheer about.
Photo: Apple

From the iPhone to the iPad to the Apple TV, Cupertino’s constellation of magical devices just got a little more magical.

Did you expect all that Apple goodness? Most of what we heard today already churned through the rumor mill: the plus-size iPad Pro; new Apple Watch finishes and bands; a refreshed Apple TV with games, apps and Siri functionality. And, oh yeah, the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with a whole new level of Force Touch, called 3D Touch.

There were even a few surprises, like the iPad Pro’s new Smart Keyboard and the iPad stylus, dubbed the Apple Pencil. But throughout today’s keynote by Tim Cook and his lieutenants, the series of under-the-hood upgrades they revealed promise to push all Apple products forward into the future.

Let’s take a moment to boil down all two hours and 10 minutes of this incredibly dense and surprisingly succinct Apple event.

Apple Watch apps spike before watchOS 2 hits wrists

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Are Apple Watch expectations just too high?
Developers have been showing the Apple Watch some extra love lately.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Though there aren’t any specific numbers on Apple Watch units sold up until this point, we do have some exciting statistics on how many apps are available for watchOS. It turns out that ahead of the watchOS 2 public release, developers have shown significant interest in the platform. They’ve contributed an impressive 11,469 Watch apps to the App Store and counting, but growth has particularly taken off in recent months.

Apple’s savvy fitness plan: Build an indispensable platform

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The Activity app forms the hub of Apple’s fitness platform strategy.
The Activity app forms the hub of Apple’s fitness platform strategy.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you compare the Apple Watch to dedicated fitness tracking devices, it comes up short, and the forthcoming watchOS 2 will do little to address these limitations. Instead, with this update Apple is focusing on helping improve third-party fitness apps.

That’s because Apple sees its wearable as the main component of a fitness platform, with the Activity app as hub. While the built-in Workout app is mostly for beginners, third-party apps will provide the missing features for hardcore users.

Here’s the Apple Watch emulating a vintage 20-year-old Mac

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Force touch Apple Watch
You won't believe what the Apple Watch can do now.
Photo: Apple

The Apple Watch might not seem like it has the most powerful processor on the block, but it’s still an A5-caliber CPU, similar to the one shipped with the iPad 2, the original iPad mini and the iPhone 4s.

That means the Apple Watch’s processor is still more powerful than pretty much every other CPU of the last 40 years. And it’s certainly up to the task of emulating a vintage Mac, as this video abundantly proves.