Apple announces first major software update for Watch

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Smartwatch will get native apps, contactless payments and upgrades to digital crown as part of watchOS2

Apple will bring native apps to the Apple Watch as part of the first major upgrade to the wearable device’s operating system.

The US manufacturer previewed watchOS 2 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday (June 8), with an upgrade to Siri, additional fitness features and the ability to communicate with an iPhone via WiFi all displayed.

Apple unveiled several new watch faces for the wearable, which was released in April, plus new capabilities for the digital crown – the button on the side of the device – including a snooze function and the ability to rotate the crown to see activity from the past 72 hours.

App developers will now get access to some of the hardware on the device, including the heart-rate monitor and Digital Crown to increase functionality on apps, when the operating system is updated in autumn.

The Mail app has been upgraded to allow direct replies using voice control, whilst Apple Maps has also been updated to include transit information. The Watch will also be able to make contactless payments in the UK, thanks to the launch of Apple Pay, which was also announced yesterday.

“We are thrilled with the feedback we’re getting from Apple Watch customers, and after just a few weeks of availability we’re excited for developers to start building native apps for watchOS 2,” said Apple VP of technology.

“We think Apple Watch users will love being able to see information from their favourite apps right on the watch face, and enjoy the many new experiences developers will dream up now that they have access to even more innovative features of Apple Watch.”

CCS Insight VP for the Americas Geoff Blaber said: “The updates to the Apple Watch OS, particularly the support of native apps, address some of the early shortcomings around performance. Apple has listened to feedback and added a range of new capabilities that should greatly enhance the breadth and depth of apps.”

“A native SDK is a huge step in maturing Watch applications and improving the user experience. The next generation of apps stand to be the first that are truly optimized for the small display”

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