Apple Watch to get speedy with new update

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is trying to address the biggest complaints about its smartwatch.

At the kickoff presentation here on Monday for its annual developer conference, the company unveiled watchOS 3, the next iteration of the operating system that underlies Apple Watch. The new software, which will be available as a free download this fall, is specifically designed to make apps for the watch launch and run faster and to make the device easier to use.

While Apple has said that watch owners have generally been pleased by the device, the gadget has drawn complaints from some users who have complained about how slow it is and how little it does.

At the event, Apple officials promised that the new version of watchOS will launch apps dramatically faster. In a demo, Kevin Lynch, who heads up Apple’s watch effort, compared watchOS 2 — the current version — and watchOS 3 in succession. Apps launched almost instantaneously on the latter, while they took several seconds to launch on the older version of the software.

“It’s about seven times faster, but it feels like a million times faster,” said Lynch.

Apple is also trying to speed up not just the launching of apps, but users’ ability to interact with them. The new version of watchOS will update users’ favorite apps in the background, even when they’re not active on the screen. That way when users launch them, they will already have up-to-date information.

“This is a dramatic improvement in how it feels to use the watch,” Lynch said.

In another tweak that likely will please users, Apple is changing the function of the side button. Right now, when you push the side button, the watch will pull up a circle of your top contacts. In the new version, the button will launch a “dock” of  users’ favorite apps, allowing them to find and open them more quickly.

Apple Vice President Kevin Lynch at the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco on Monday, June 13, 2016. (Troy Wolverton/Mercury News) 


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