RIP Time Travel - A seldom-used Apple Watch feature set to disappear with watchOS 5
One of Apple Watch's under-used features — Time Travel — will be going away when watchOS 5 lands this fall. This is AppleInsider's in memoriam of another Apple Watch experimental feature.
Time Travel debuted as part of the watchOS 2 update, the first major software upgrade to the Apple Watch after launch. It also introduced Nightstand mode, Siri improvements, new watch faces, support for third-party complications, and more.
This new ability was utilized by rotating the Digital Crown clockwise or counter-clockwise, which would move time on the Apple Watch in the appropriate direction. Out of the gate it supported Apple's default apps such as Calendar and Weather.
It was a handy way to see appointments or weather conditions in the near future without having to actually jump into an app. Since third-party complications were also new, developers were given the ability to tie this feature into their own apps as well.
A few of Apple Watch's faces also supported Time Travel with beautiful animations. Solar, which mimics the suns position throughout the day, will animate the "sun" as time is moved. The Astronomy watch face shows the rotation of Earth and could also be controlled through Time Travel.
Some app categories featured the ability, with quite a few weather, travel ETA prediction, and health apps supporting it. However, it really never got a critical mass of developer support. More often than not, users triggered it by accident.
Developers testing the beta releases of watchOS 5 noticed the toggle disappear from settings — before the feature stopped operating completely.
This isn't the first time Apple has drastically changed aspects of the Apple Watch over the few years it has been around. Apple took its time working out the best way for users to interact with the wrist-worn device.
Originally, pressing the side button would trigger a wheel of your favorite contacts. In watchOS 3, the side button was repurposed for a new Dock that held up to ten apps that constantly ran in the background. Control Center replaced Glances, which were enabled by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Those are just the most prominent changes in watchOS, with many more small, yet just as fundamental, ones.
While Time Travel will be a thing of the past, the animation control in the Solar and Astronomy watch will still be sticking around. When either of those faces are active, the Digital Crown still animates these faces as they scrub through time.
Apple Watch popularity has continued to increase over the years, so it appears as if Apple is getting close to nailing how — and why — people are using Apple Watch. While this year Time Travel is being abandoned, Apple Watch has become more powerful than ever. watchOS 5 is bringing a ton of new features the increase usefulness and independence, which should go well with the rumored new hardware expected to drop this fall.