How watchOS 3 will improve the Apple Watch

by Volker Weber


As you know I am addicted to the Apple Watch. These are my use cases:

  1. Tell the time. Doh!
  2. Get notifications. They show up as a red dot at the top of the watch face. Swipe down from there to see them. Dismiss them one by one, or force touch to dismiss all of them.
  3. Track three exercise goals. I have one "glance" below the watch face for that. Swipe up and I can see my three circles. I could use a "complication" but find it too ugly. There is also a full Activity app. You get there by tapping on the glance or by pressing the crown and then selecting the app.
  4. Answering phone calls. When the iPhone rings, I can take the call from the watch. It's like a speaker phone and it works for better than you might think.

All is well? No. Lots of room for improvement. Glances are superficial. Light versions of apps that take too long to load. Then there is a button below the crown that I never use. It gives you a dial with your closest friends and you can call them from there. There are some gimmicks, where you can send a heart beat or a scribble to some other watch user, but I never used this in any capacity.

Here is what changes. Instead of selecting glances you will have "favorite" apps. Those will remain in memory and can refresh in the background. That means they are available immediately. You get a lauchpad/switcher by pressing the long button. Halleluja! Instead of glances you have running apps, immediately available by swiping left and right, invoked by a hardware button.

When you swipe up, you no longer get glances, but instead just a simple control panel. Like you do on the iPhone. In watchOS 2 there is also a control panel, but it's left of your glances. Swipe up, swipe right, right, right, until you get there. And then I lost my activity glance and have to swipe back, back, back. Much better in watchOS 3.


There is a new watch face with activity rings, but that is too busy for me. I will probably keep my simple watch face. Good news however: I can have both. Swipe left and right to swap watch faces.


I never ran down the battery once. What is your experience?

Volker Weber, 2016-06-14

I do charge every night. At the end of a normal day, about 50 to 60% capacity are left (with one workout walking max. 1hr).
When I measure gardening activities with the workout app (sometimes 3-5 hours in a session), there is almost no capacity left at the end of the day.
In one year of ownership, I ran into reserve mode exactly one time.

Sven Bühler, 2016-06-14

Even on very long days (flight to the west transatlantic) I do have over 40% battery left. Notifications, phone calls, messages & work outs, it just works fine.

Dirk Bartkowiak, 2016-06-14

When running long distances, the watch will show the low-battery warning after about 4 hours (assuming it is 85-90% charged when starting). So the watch is definitely enough for an average marathon.

But you need to recharge to make sure to also get 12 standing hours before it dies.

This can be improved by measuring with a heart rate chest strap (instead of using green light on the watch itself), but I don't have enough testing data for that, because on full day bike trips like that, I recharge (a bit) during breaks.

Really looking forward to watchOS 3. Looks very promising.

Benjamin Bock, 2016-06-15

Like many here, I have only run the battery down to reserve mode once, which was after driving from the UK to Venice. I was using navigation - which by the way was excellent.

Volker, I also have never used the friends or scribble features. I'm not even sure what they're called.

Ian Bradbury, 2016-06-15

Has anyone got a use case for the "time travel" function? I can't think of any good reason for it's existence.

John Lindsay, 2016-06-15

I don't. I only find it annoying when it activates.

Did you notice that Apple hardly mentioned the digital crown at all? Speaking for myself, I only press the crown, I never turn it.

Volker Weber, 2016-06-15

I use the time travel function: to see the temperature over the course of the next hours. (inside a wheather complication)

I also use the crown sometimes to scoll. But not really often.

On watchOS 2 using an app is not really useful/possible. (RunKeeper is chrashing, information is not up to date)
I really hope that with the changes, in watchOS 3 I can finally use apps.

On my wrist the highest priority is to have the updated information _instantly_ and the second highest priority is that I can rely on my fitness app. (nothing more frustasting to see after a run that the runkeeper data is lost or not correct!)

Matthias Welling, 2016-06-15

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