Apple watchOS 3: Apps to load up to 7x faster

Apple Watch OS 3 WWDC

The agony may soon come to an end.

Anyone who owns an Apple Watch know the one huge, frustrating issue that plagues the wearable: apps are so very, very slow. As in so slow, many choose never to use them at all, instead using the Apple Watch primarily for notifications (which it handles with aplomb).

With WatchOS 3 those days of the never-ending loading icon should be over, fond memories of the early days of Apple’s firstgen smartwatch.

In a demo today at WWDC in San Francisco, Watch head Kevin Lynch showed a simple sports app in action in both WatchOS 2 and the upcoming, performance tuned WatchOS 3. The app — which displayed a soccer sports score — loaded virtually instantaneously with the update. No surprise Apple calls this “Instant Launch”.

Apple accomplishes the speed improvement by storing your favorite apps in memory. A dock is accessible by using a button (on the right side of the Apple Watch) where you can edit and/or load favorites. I’m probably not the only one who suspects speed is the #1 requested improvements for the Apple Watch. This update should make many very happy.

In addition, swiping up from the bottom of Apple Watch now loads a “Control Center.” Similar to what you see on an iPhone or iPad, you can see quick statuses, and toggle frequently used settings such as airplane mode.

Other updates to the Apple Watch include new watch faces, a finger keyboard with handwriting recognition, enhanced health and fitness apps, an emergency feature (SOS), and “quick start” for activity tracking.

Also, the Apple Watch can be used to authenticate on a Mac — replacing the need to manually enter a password when it wakes from sleep.

Earlier this year, Google teased Android Wear 2.0 at I/O. So far it looks like the goal with the second generation OS updates is to streamline the user experience, and improve overall performance — both battery and app load times.

The Apple watchOS preview is available today, with the final version shipping this Fall.

It looks like there will be no Apple Watch hardware announcements today. As expected, we should see Apple Watch 2 later this year.

All four of Apple’s major platforms today receive updates and news: watchOS (wearables), tvOS (streaming video), iOS (mobile) and the newly re-branded macOS “Sierra” (desktop).

WWC kicked off today in San Francisco, and runs through June 17. During the opening keynote CEO Tim Cook asked all in attendance to stand in a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando shooting.

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