Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.09.29 PM

Today at WWDC Apple has officially announced the next version of watchOS for the Apple Watch. watchOS 3 was unveiled by Apple executive Kevin Lynch and includes a variety of changes and enhancements.

Highlighting watchOS 3 is a major improvement to the speed of opening apps. Lynch explained that watchOS apps should open instantly and that watchOS 3 finally allows that to be the case.

watchOS 3 also repurposes the Apple Watch side button to bring up a “Dock,” which will serve as a place to hold your most-used apps. No longer will the side button bring up the ring of contacts like it has since the beginning.

Next up, watchOS brings a new messaging feature called Scribble. This feature allows users to write out a quick message using their finger and watchOS will change the writing to text with handwriting recognition.

watchOS 3 brings a new SOS feature that allows users to quickly communicate with emergency officials. Holding down the side button will bring up the standard shutdown screen, but with a new SOS option. A countdown timer will appear and emergency officials will be contacted.

Control Center is also coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 3. Much like iOS, Apple Watch users can now quickly access quick settings. watchOS 3 also brings a handful of new watch faces, including a Minnie Mouse face, Activity Ring face, and several others that can be seen in the gallery below.

Apple also worked to improve the Apple Watch for wheelchair users with watchOS 3. For instance, the “Time to stand” notification will now say “Time to roll,” while Apple Watch is also better at recognizing wheelchair movements and recognizing that as exercise.

Further building on Activity improvements, Apple is announcing a new app called Breathe that will remind users to take time out of their day to breathe. The app features a variety of breathing and relaxation exercise.

During WWDC last year Apple unveiled watchOS 2 with a handful of highly-requested new features, including support for native third-party apps, on-screen video playback, Time Travel, new watch faces, and much more.

watchOS 3 will be available to developers soon and will be available to all Apple Watch users via a software update later this year.

Apple Previews watchOS 3; Faster, Simpler with Breakthrough Health Features

SAN FRANCISCO — June 13, 2016 — Today, Apple® previewed watchOS® 3, featuring significantly improved performance with the ability to launch favorite apps instantly, enhanced navigation like the new Dock and all-new fitness and health capabilities for Apple Watch®. Available this fall, this software update introduces the breakthrough Breathe app, designed to encourage users to take a moment in their day to do deep breathing exercises for relaxation and stress reduction. The Activity app now includes the ability to share, compare and compete as well as enabling wheelchair users to close their Activity rings.

“Apple Watch is the ultimate companion for a healthy life and with watchOS 3, there’s now even more to love,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Favorite apps launch instantly and are simple to access, and the breakthrough new fitness and health features like the Breathe app make it feel like a whole new watch.”

Instant Performance & Simple Navigation It is easier and faster than ever to perform common tasks with watchOS 3, including replying to a message, starting a Workout or skipping a song. By pressing the side button, users can access the new Dock with their recent and favorite apps. Right from the Dock or the watch face, users can launch their favorite native and third-party apps instantly and have the latest information in the app already updated and ready for viewing. Similar to iOS, users can swipe up from the watch face for the new and improved Control Center, continue to swipe down for Notification Center and swipe left or right to easily switch out a watch face.

Fitness & Health Motivation through social engagement is an important factor in changing fitness and health behavior, and now with watchOS 3, it’s possible to share, compare and compete with friends, family or even a personal trainer. Users receive notifications about their friends’ progress, including completed Activity rings, finished workouts and earned achievements. Activity sharing is now directly connected to the Messages app, so users can communicate, motivate and celebrate with friends and family with new Smart Replies specially customized for Activity and Workouts. In watchOS 3, the Activity app experience is now optimized for wheelchair users. Wheelchair pushes contribute to all-day calorie goals, the “time to stand” reminder is now “time to roll” and there are dedicated wheelchair-specific workouts.

The all-new Breathe app encourages users to take moments in their day to do short deep breathing sessions. The beautiful, calming visualization and haptic cues guide users through deep, full breaths in sessions lasting one to five minutes and on completion, they will receive a heart rate summary.

All-New Communication Receiving and quickly replying to messages is more powerful and expressive in watchOS 3 with stickers, handwriting, full-screen effects and invisible ink, which reveals the message only after a friend swipes over it. Smart Replies are even faster as they are now available right in the message notification. When a more custom reply is needed, the new scribble feature allows users to quickly write words on the display and Apple Watch will convert the handwriting to text.

SOS in watchOS 3 enables people in critical situations around the world to initiate a call with emergency services through their iPhone® or while on Wi-Fi, and notify their emergency contact by simply pressing and holding the side button.

Watch Faces Apple Watch is even more personal with new watch faces including Minnie Mouse, Activity and the simple and elegant Numerals. Even more apps can launch straight from the watch face including Workout, Music or Messages. Users can also now add complications to the Photo, Motion or Timelapse watch faces. It’s easier to customize watch faces and discover third-party apps with the new Faces Gallery in the Watch app on iPhone.

Availability watchOS 3 will be available this fall as a free update to Apple Watch. Apple Watch requires iPhone 5 or later running iOS 8.2 or later. WatchKit® for watchOS 3 is available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at For more information, visit Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.


FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

About the Author

Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

Tips, questions, typos to