The only beta programme that I did not participate in from Apple this year was the watchOS 2 beta. I used the iOS 9 beta from the start and then joined the El Capitan beta towards the end, however due to the fact that the watchOS system is so new there was no way I was going to jump in just in case there was a host of problems rendering the device unusable.
The one thing that nobody was able to test during the watchOS 2 beta was third party complications or native apps. Apple does not accept apps which have new software improvements until a week before the software goes public, so while developers can build and test apps on the new software, nothing actually gets submitted to the App Store until Apple says so.
Since watchOS 2 was released earlier in the week I can honestly say that I don’t know how I have been using my Apple Watch without them! Third party complications are the real triumph on the watchOS 2 update. They allow you to do so much more with the screen than before when you were limited to the stock complications from Apple.
Whether it is glancing at traffic information, using a complication as a shortcut to a news app I want to use or being able to have access to the weather app that I want to use from the watch face, now you can do it all.
Presumably Apple wanted people to use the ‘Glances’ feature of the watch for this kind of stuff and Glances is fine however it doesn’t really fit the flow the the watch at the moment, certainly not for me anyway. I do use Glances however that is a rarity, I wouldn’t check them regularly as they require active input. Checking a glance means tapping and swiping which can be a pain at times when you are out and about, sometimes it is just better to check your iPhone instead.
This shows that the Apple Watch doesn’t have everything right, however they are clearly getting a lot more right than the competition at the moment. Third party complications are perfect for when you want to glance at the information that you want to see and then jump right into the app that you want to use.
There has been some real stand out third party complications already, some of the top ones to catch my eye and win a place on my watch face so far are, Carrot Weather, ETA and Buzzfeed. Special mention has to go to ETA, a new app that I only discovered when it was mentioned by Serenity Caldwell on iMore the other day and it has been wonderful.
ETA uses the Apple transit and map features in their own app (you can also select other map and transit inputs of your choice) to calculate route and live times for transit. Simply input places you go to often such as: work, gym, pet shop, petrol station, shopping centre. The app then provides updates on live travel times and traffic conditions on the way.
It is a wonderful app and now I can have that information by simply glancing at my wrist. This app has been the eye opener so far as to what some developers will be able to achieve through complications on the Apple Watch. Complications are not going to fit the mould of every app out there however for apps like this, it is a whole new area of exploration.
Third party complications coupled with time travel are also proving to be a wonderful inclusion. Some people laughed off time travel as a marketing gimmick however when used with third party complications it has been fantastic.
Turning the digital crown and apps such as Carrot Weather and ETA will update to reflect what may happen in the next number of hours. The weather will update based on how far ahead you go in time travel and although ETA can’t predict traffic conditions it will update to reflect when you can expect traffic to ease up and clear to normal.
This is only the start of what is to come, no doubt as developers start adapting (remember all this is new to them too) they will figure out how to get more and more from complications. Third party complications are giving more power to the user and if my first impressions are right after a few days then I can safely say that watchOS 2 is going to sell a lot of Apple Watches.
So when can I actually get the Apple Watch in Ireland?
I know that after reading this people may be wondering, “When can I get my hands on one! It is still not for sale in Ireland!!”
Well, it goes on sale today! The Apple Watch is hitting shelves in Ireland from this morning and will start at €429 for a 38mm case while the 42mm starts at €479 (sports model). The standard stainless steel watches will start at €679.
You can buy it now on Apple’s website in Ireland – http://www.apple.com/ie/watch/
Or try dropping by Compub today before they sell out to see if you can pick one up for yourself!
— Compu b (@compub) September 25, 2015
For those of you getting it today, enjoy it! And if you happen to have any questions about the device at all feel free to hit me up on Twitter with them – @TheMarkDalton