Apple is removing the Time Travel feature from its wearable operating system when watchOS 5 drops in the fall. If you’ve never heard of Time Travel, that just goes to show why Apple is nixing the feature.
Since it debuted in watchOS 2 in 2015, Time Travel has gone on to become one of the Apple Watch’s most under-used feature.
Time Travel, basically, let users “scrub” through time by rotating the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown. You could check future or past weather reports by turning the Digital Crown, or check upcoming or past events in Calendar. It also featured travel ETA estimates and certain health and fitness data.
In other words, the feature let users quickly see upcoming events or other information without needing to open an app completely.
The feature was even supported by a couple Apple Watch faces. Solar, for example, featured a beautiful animation showing the position of the sun changing based on a user’s time scrubbing. In Astronomy, the rotation of the earth could be controlled with the Digital Crown.
While Apple opened Time Travel up for developers to use in their own apps, the feature never really saw widespread adoption — by developers or users. In fact, many Apple Watch users stumbled upon the feature by accident.
The lack of popularity probably spelled its death. Beta testers running watchOS 5 noticed that the Time Travel toggle had disappeared from Settings. In the latest beta versions of watchOS 5, the feature has simply been removed from the operating system entirely.
Of course, while Time Travel for core and third-party apps will be gone in watchOS 5, the feature isn’t going to be gone entirely. Users will still be able to scrub through time in the aforementioned Solar and Astronomy Apple Watch faces.
Time Travel now joins a growing list of axed Apple Watch features, including a quick contacts list that was activated via the side button and the Glances menu that was replaced by the Control Center in watchOS 3.
Many Apple Watch users can probably attest to the fact that Time Travel won’t be terribly missed. Part of that is likely tied to the fact that Apple is learning how and why people use and interact with their Watches. Experimental features like Time Travel are just the casualties of that process.
With the Apple Watch growing steadily in popularity, it seems that Apple is nailing the formula for a market-dominating wearable.
While watchOS 5 is killing off Time Travel, the new update is also adding a slew of features that will make the Apple Watch more useful and powerful than ever. That includes new Watch faces, a Walkie Talkie mode, and a variety of updates to core applications and functionality. It will debut as a free update in the fall.