Though we had our reservations about the Apple Watch at launch, the Cupertino company has remained steadfast in its commitment to making it the best smartwatch currently available.
The Apple Watch has received its first major firmware update in watchOS 2, and while it might not make the device a must-own item just yet, it greatly improves the smartwatch’s overall user experience.
The first immediately noticeable change to your Apple Watch post-update is the addition of new watch faces (as well as a few new options for the ones that were already there). The existing Modular watch face is much prettier now, as you can change the colour of each individual section.
There’s a new Time Lapse watch face that shows little videos of various cities around the world, and you can now select a watch face that links to an iPhone Photo Album of your choosing, giving you a new background to look at each time you raise your wrist (you can get creative here and set pictures of absolutely anything).
And if you own an iPhone 6S, you can use its new Live Photos function to set little animated pictures of your loved ones instead of static images.
The next thing you’ll notice is that some of your apps feel faster than they did previously. This is because many of them now run natively. This slightly releases the Apple Watch from its iPhone dependency, and also allows it to take advantage of its new tetherless Wi-Fi capability.
It gives your watch full functionality when it’s away from your iPhone, so long as your handset and smartwatch are both on wireless networks that you’ve used before.
Apple has also introduced ‘complications’ to the Apple Watch, which allow certain watch faces to display information from third-party apps. This opens your watch face up to limitless possibilities.
Apps like iTranslate let you speak into your Apple Watch and get an instant audio translation in a different language, and you can get real-time flight details from a number of airlines with App in the Air — those are just a couple of examples of how the Apple Watch can now be tailored to your specific needs.
A new Time Travel mode for the Modular watch face gives you the ability look into the future or past by rotating the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown back and forth. You can use this to view your schedule at certain hours, see what the weather will be like at a certain time, catch up on news you may have missed, or see what time it will be later on in a different country.
Existing features have also received a watchOS 2 makeover — the Music app now incorporates Apple Music functionality, such as the ability to ‘quick play’ music and access your various playlists. Email on the Apple Watch has also been improved, as you can now hit reply and start dictating a response.
Though the Apple Watch felt barebones at launch, watchOS 2 is a huge step in the right direction for the device. If subsequent updates bring about as much functionality as this update, Apple’s smartwatch may just become a must-have device.
The Apple Watch Sport now comes in Silver Aluminium, Gold Aluminium and Rose Gold Aluminium ($499 for the 38mm and $579 for the 42mm), and can be purchased with a range of new sports bands in various colours, including orange, midnight blue, stone, lavender, antique white and the pricier space black and (PRODUCT)RED editions ($799 for the 38mm and $879 for the 42mm).
Fog, turquoise, vintage rose and walnut sports bands can also be purchased separately ($79).
There are new Saddle Brown and Black Classic Buckle band options for the Stainless Steel Apple Watch ($949 for the 38mm and $1,029 for the 42mm), and luxury Hermes strap options (starting at $1,700) available.
Finally, if you have $21,000 to spare, you can pick up the 42mm Rose Gold Apple Watch Edition with a Midnight Blue Classic Buckle.
Verdict: Improved functionality of existing apps, new watch faces and handy ‘complications’ make the Apple Watch a much more compelling device than it was six months ago.