watchOS 3 has shipped but Apple's already working on watchOS 4. What's coming down the pipeline?
Updated April 20, 2017: Gizmodo recently got its hands on an Environmental Health and Safety report that seemingly implies employees have been testing skiing and snowboarding activities.
As the Apple Watch has evolved, so has watchOS: The operating system is more mature than ever, but there are still plenty of exciting developments in Apple's pipeline. What might be coming in watchOS 4? Here's what we've heard so far.
Any chance for an always-on time option?
This is one of my biggest Apple Watch nitpicks, and with luck, it'll be fixed in Apple Watch Series 3 — but it may not come to all Apple Watch models or watchOS because of battery concerns. An always-on screen could significantly impact battery life, especially in older Apple Watch models; and as much as I'd like to see the time at any point, I prefer all-day battery life.
What about more Apple Watch faces?
Third-party watch faces in the App Store: It's time, Apple. (Pun intended.)
In seriousness, this is one rumor that might come to fruition; we've heard rumbles here and there about the company chatting with high-profile businesses for collaborations beyond the occasional Hermes or Nike face, and a Watch Face app store could be an iMessage Stickers-level profit engine.
New activities, right?
While I'm hoping and praying that Apple upgrades "skating" sports from a mere Other label to a full-fledged activity, with watchOS 4, it definitely looks like the company plans to add some new sports to the next version of watchOS. From Gizmodo, which got its hands on an Environmental Health and Safety report in April 2017 that seemingly implies employees have been testing skiing and snowboarding activities:
Or on March 10, when an employee on the Apple Watch team injured his knee while skiing. "Watch EE team has two days ski trip (3/10-3/11) to Tahoe area to help collect core motion data for skiing/boarding activity tracking. It's also part of team building activity. Employee has participated in the activity and had an injury on his knee." We asked Apple if it plans to add skiing and snowboarding as tracked activities to its Workout app but have not heard back.
Will Siri work offline, and will it actually talk to me?
One of my biggest wish-list items is for Siri to work even more effectively in Series 3, and nothing would improve upon that more than to have the voice assistant able to do certain offline tasks. Obviously, you won't be able to send a text message or call your friend, but being able to launch apps on the device, start workouts, add reminders, and start timers would be a huge improvement. The Apple Watch's processor may not be powerful enough for this kind of co-processing just yet — but hey, a girl can dream.
There's also the question of Siri actually talking: Currently, Siri on the Apple Watch is text-only — the voice assistant won't read anything out loud. The Series 2 made the watch's speaker even better, so such a software improvement would be possible for all models; the question is whether Apple feels such a Settings option would be frequently used. From an accessibility standpoint, however, it seems like a must-add: Without Siri's voice, those needing help with sight can't use the voice assistant at all.
Rumors abound, but here's the real question for you, readers: If Apple came to you and asked you what you wanted to see in the next generation of Apple Watch software, what would you tell them? Here are some of our hopes:
- Notes app
- Podcast app
- Proactive complications that switch in/out according to time/location/past behavior
- More licensed watch faces like Superman, Star Wars, etc
- More digital watch faces, for some variation
- Auto unlock for more than just Mac
- Breathing and bedtime integration for Activity rings
- Leaderboard for Activity sharing