At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2016 keynote Monday morning, the company took the wraps off an array of new features that will be coming to the next installment of its watchOS platform — watchOS 3 — when it touches down later on this fall.
In addition to significantly faster app launching, an all-new control center and app switcher, new watch faces, activity sharing interface, and an all new ‘Breathe’ app to encourage healthy breathing habits, Apple will be bring a few other noteworthy software enhancements to the table.
For starters, the Cupertino-company introduced an all-new feature that it’s calling ‘Scribble’ for Apple Watch. Scribble, as the name might suggest, is an intuitive new input method for Apple Watch — whereby users can simply draw out the letters of a word on their Watch’s screen, which will then be transformed into typed text in real-time. So say, for instance, you want to search for the nearest coffee shop — such as Starbucks. What you could do with Scribble, as opposed to taking out your iPhone and typing out Starbucks in the search bar, is simply ‘scribble’ the letters S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S directly on your Apple Watch. It’s been claimed that Scribble works much faster and is more intuitive than traditional handwriting recognition, which is a warmly welcomed sentiment.
The feature, which was recently introduced in a similar form for Android’s Wear platform, stands to revolutionize the way users interact with and enter input on their Apple Watches. Additionally, you’ll be able to respond to SMS messages, for example, right from your Apple Watch via the new Scribble interface, too.
We were also introduced to perhaps one of watchOS 3’s most polarizing, forthcoming features — which Apple is calling ‘SOS.’
Back in March of this year, we originally reported on a patent that was awarded to Apple — which detailed a process by which the company’s watch could dial 911 in case of emergencies on your behalf. And watchOS 3’s new SOS feature, in essence, exemplifies a real, working platform by which this reality will soon be possible.
In case of emergency, watchOS 3 will now enable users to dial 911 directly from their Apple Watch — by simply press-holding down on the wearable’s Digital Crown for a few seconds. And since you’d only be using the feature in case of an emergency, Apple’s SOS function in watchOS 3 will utilize either your iPhone’s cellular connection, or your Apple Watch’s Wi-Fi connection — in the event that either or is unavailable in your area at the time.
Also, Apple Watch’s forthcoming ‘SOS’ functionality isn’t just limited to 911 — which is a U.S.-based service. But rather, your Apple Watch will, via cellular or Wi-Fi, be able to ping towers and contact a variety of emergency services numbers based on your inherent location. For example, when traveling internationally, your Apple Watch will automatically dial that country’s native emergency response number — such as ‘999’, which works in countries like the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Malaysia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and many other international locales.
SOS also has the canny ability to send your location, in case of an emergency, as well as your Medical ID with useful information including blood type and known/potential allergies.
What do you think about these new features coming to watchOS 3 later on this fall? Let us know in the comments!