Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. WatchOS 3 Makes the Original Apple Watch 3x as Fast

With a Major Boost in Speed, New Faces, and New Apps, You Don’t Need to Upgrade to the New Model

By Jonathan Spira on 16 September 2016
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As someone who has had an Apple Watch from the very beginning, I’ve grown accustomed to having it on my wrist, eschewing the “better” timepieces sitting in watch winders on my dresser. It was never just a curiosity for me. From the outset, I found it practical and useful … as well as clunky.

The user interface? Not only did the UI not make sense in many cases, but it didn’t follow the conventions Apple has used in the iPhone for the past decade. Oh, and then there was the speed. There wasn’t any. Opening an app required planning ahead, asking Siri a question meant that you weren’t in a hurry for answer, and well … you get the picture.

That is, until now. Earlier this week, Apple released WatchOS 3 and everything changed. “Hey Siri, am I right?” Without delay her response was displayed on the watch: “I would prefer not to say.”

While the upgrade took longer than I had expected, it was worth it. I immediately saw that animations are actually zippy, a word I never would have used in the same sentence with “Apple Watch.” Apps open noticeably faster, in anywhere from half to a third of the time formerly required.

Siri seems to think faster and respond faster. Some apps appear to open instantaneously (Dark Skies, I’m looking at you) and if you have an app complication visible on your watch face, the app will stay in memory and launch instantly. Similarly, any apps in the Dock receive priority and launch almost as fast. WatchOS 3 also supports Background Refresh, which means that apps stay current without a need to launch them.

The dock requires some explanation and we remain puzzled as to why Apple didn’t include a Dock in watchOS 1 or 2. The Dock is basically an app launcher, accessible by pressing the button below the digital crown. This is the button that previously launched the Friends menu. Glances have been replaced with apps in the Dock, which can hold ten apps. The apps remain stored in the watch’s memory to ensure an almost instantaneous launch.

In addition, Apple has added a Control Panel similar in concept to what you have on your iPhone. Simply swipe up from the watch face and important controls including Find My iPhone (it makes your phone sound an alert so you can find it), Do Not Disturb, AirPlay, airplane mode, mute, and more are right there in front of you. The icons in the Control Panel are very clear, no mean feat for such a tiny screen.

The only downside I’ve found is that Now Playing requires a button click since it’s no longer a Glance.

We’ll have a more comprehensive look at the updates in a coming feature but, if you already have the original Apple Watch, unless you require GPS functionality for running without taking your iPhone along, you can breathe easy (there’s an app for that on the watch now, it reminds you to relax and take deep breaths) as there’s no compelling reason to spring for the upgrade.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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