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Apple releases fixed watchOS 2 for Apple Watch with native apps, Time Travel, nightstand mode

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Apple on Monday officially released watchOS 2, following a brief delay caused by the last-minute discovery of a critical bug. The newly released software gives users access to native third-party apps, a new Time Travel function, custom photo watch faces, nightstand mode, and more.

For Watch owners, the update can be downloaded by opening the Apple Watch iPhone app, navigating to the General menu and then selecting Software Update. The new version should install wirelessly.

Apple cautions that an iPhone should be connected to Wi-Fi, and that a Watch should be both connected to its charger and have at least 50 percent battery power.

The highlight feature of the new Apple Watch operating system is the ability for third-party apps to run natively on the wrist-worn device. This should allow software to run more quickly and operate more independently of the iPhone.

watchOS 2 also enables developers to create their own watch face complications. These will offer users the ability to add glanceable information, such as upcoming flights or sports scores.

Complications will also feature a new capability called "Time Travel," where users can rotate the Digital Crown on their Apple Watch to see information for later in the day, including calendar entries, weather, and more.

Apple also has a new feature called nightstand mode, which allows the Watch face to be viewed on its side for charging. When resting like this, the Digital Crown and side button can be used to snooze and end an alarm in the morning.

The update was originally supposed to be available on Sept. 16 alongside iOS 9. That same day, though, Apple issued a statement saying that it had discovered a bug that was taking "a bit longer to fix than we expected." At the time, it did not offer a deadline for the finished code.

The full list of changes, as detailed by Apple, in watchOS 2.0 are:

  • New watch faces and timekeeping features
    • Time-lapse videos of Hong Kong, London, Mack Lake, New York, Shanghai, and Paris
    • Photo and Photo Album so you can see your favorite images every time you raise your wrist, including support for Live Photos
    • Time Travel with the Digital Crown to see what's coming in the future or what' s happened in the past a Nightstand Mode so your Watch can be used as a bedside alarm clock
    • 9 new colors to customize your watch face, and a new multicolor Modular face
    • Support for third-party apps to create complications
  • Siri improvements
    • Start a specific workout, get transit directions, or ask to see a glance
    • Support for FaceTime audio calling and replying to email
    • Support for HomeKit to control supported devices in your home using Siri
    • New support for Austria, Belgium (French and Dutch), and Norway
  • Activity and Workout improvements a Workouts from third party apps on the Watch can be included in your Activity rings
  • Activity rings, workouts, and achievements can be shared from the Activity app on iPhone
  • Interactive achievements a Qn-demand weekly summary
  • Mute Activity notifications for one day
  • Workouts saved automatically
  • Apple Pay and Wallet improvements
    • Support for Discover cards
    • Support for rewards cards and store credit and debit cards
    • Add passes to Wallet directly from third party apps on your Watch
  • Friends and Digital Touch improvements
    • Add more than 12 Friends directly from Apple Watch
    • Multiple Friends' groups that you can name
    • Send sketches using multiple colors
    • New options for animated emoji
  • Maps improvements
    • Transit view, showing transit lines, stations and intermodal connections in select major cities
    • View the list of directions for your current
    • View station placards with departure information
  • Music improvements
    • New Beats 1 button to start playing the 24/7 radio station
    • New Quick Play button to play a variety of songs from Apple Music
  • Reply to emails using dictation, emoji, or smart replies customized specifically for email
  • Make and receive calls using FaceTime audio
  • Support for Wi-Fi calling without iPhone in proximity on participating carriers
  • Activation Lock prevents anyone from activating your Apple Watch without your Apple ID and password
  • New developer capabilities, including:
    • Native SDK to build faster and more powerful apps running natively on Apple Watch
    • Access to accelerometer to more granularly track your motion
    • Access to heart rate sensor for use during a workout
    • Access to microphone and speaker to record and play audio
    • Access to the Taptic Engine with 8 different types of Haptic feedback
    • Access to the Digital Crown for more precise controls
    • Ability to play video directly on Apple Watch
    • Support for running apps without iPhone in proximity, including access to networking capabilities when connected to known Wi-Fi networks
    • Complications on the watch face
    • Workouts from apps can be counted towards Activity rings
    • Workouts from apps can be included in Activity app on iPhone