watchOS 2 nightstand mode

Following a slight delay in launching watchOS 2 due to a critical bug discovered at the last minute, Apple on Monday released the first major update to the operating system powering the Apple Watch.

In addition to executing your favorite apps directly on the device rather than on your iPhone, watchOS 2 lets native apps take advantage of hardware features such as built-in mic, the Digital Crown and the Taptic Engine.

For the full list of changes, check out Apple’s official release notes further below detailing everything that’s new, improved and enhanced in watchOS 2.

“This update is the fist major software update for Apple Watch and includes new watch faces, third-party app complications, new capabilities in Mail, Friends and Digital Touch, and support for third-party apps running natively,” Apple writes.

watchOS 2 update prompt

Without further ado, check out Apple’s release notes below.

watchOS 2 release notes

The free watchOS 2 software update contains new features and capabilities for users and developers, including the following:

New watch faces and timekeeping features

  • Time-lapse videos of Hong Kong, London, Mack Lake, New York Shanghai and Paris
  • Photo and Photo Albums so you can see your favorite images every time you raise your wrist, including support for Live Photos
  • Time Travel with the Digital Crown to see what’s coming in the future or what’s happened in the past
  • Nightstand Mode so your Watch can be used as a bedside alarm clock
  • 9 new colors to customize your watch face and a new multicolor Modular face
  • Support for third-party apps to create complications

Siri improvements

  • Start a specific workout, get transit directions or ask to see a glance
  • Support for FaceTime audio calling and replying to email
  • Support for HomeKit to control supported devices in your home using Siri
  • New support for Austria, Belgium (France and Dutch) and Norway

Activity and workout improvements

  • Workouts from third-party apps on the Watch can be included in your Activity rings
  • Activity rings, workouts and achievements can be shared from the Activity app on iPhone
  • Interactive achievements
  • On-demand weekly summary
  • Mute Activity notifications for one day
  • Workouts saved automatically

Apple Pay and Wallet improvements

  • Support for Discover cards
  • Support for rewards cards and store credit and debit cards
  • Add passes to Wallet directly from third-party apps on your Watch

Friends and Digital Touch improvements

  • Add more than 12 Friends directly from Apple Watch
  • Multiple Friends’ groups that you can name
  • Send sketches using multiple colors
  • New options for animated emoji

Maps improvements

  • Transit view, showing transit lines, stations and intermodal connections in select major cities
  • View the list of directions for your current route
  • View station placards with departure information

Music improvements

  • New Beats 1 button to start playing the 24/7 radio station
  • New Quick Play button to play a variety of songs from Apple Music

Other improvements

  • Reply to emails using dictation, emoji or smart replies customized specifically for email
  • Make and receive calls using FaceTime audio
  • Support for Wi-Fi calling without iPhone in proximity on participating carriers
  • Activation Lock prevents anyone from activating your Apple Watch without your Apple ID and password
  • New developer capabilities, including:
    • Native SDK to build faster and more powerful apps running natively on Apple Watch
    • Access to accelerometer to more granularly track your motion
    • Access to heart rate sensor for using during a workout
    • Access to microphone and speaker to record and play audio
    • Access to the Taptic Engine with 8 different types of Haptic feedback
    • Access to the Digital Crown for more precise control
    • Ability to play video directly on Apple Watch
    • Support for running apps without iPhone in proximity, including access to networking capabilities when connected to known Wi-Fi networks
    • Complications on the watch face
    • Workouts from apps can be counted towards Activity rings
    • Workouts from apps can be included in Activity app on iPhone
  • New support for system language in English (India), Finnish, Indonesian, Norwegian and Polish
  • New support for dictation in Dutch (Belgium), English (Ireland, Philippines, South Africa), French (Belgium), German (Austria) and Spanish (Chile, Colombia)
  • New support for smart replies in Traditional Chinese (Hong Kong, Taiwan), Danish, Dutch, English (New Zealand, Singapore), Japanese, Korean, Swedish and Thai

Apple’s watchOS 2 micro-site explains new features in greater detail.

As always, some features of watchOS may not be available for all countries or all areas. The security content of this update is available in Apple’s support document.

To learn how to update your Apple Watch to watchOS 2, consult Jeff’s handy step-by-step tutorial.

What’s your favorite watchOS 2 feature so far?

  • Art Wilbur


    • Bugs Bunnay


    • Jonathan

      Dosen’t eisxt.

  • Kyle McNulty – Mclovin341

    The stability has improved drastically from the GM release, what ever the bug was im glad they held off releasing it to the public unfinished. Very happy, however the stock apps are still slow to say they’re running native now.

    • f1ght3r

      I’m currently on the GM and haven’t noticed any instability. What type of instabilities have you experienced?

      • Kyle McNulty – Mclovin341

        Found it to often lag.
        Notifications were delayed more than usual.
        The time lapse watch faces used to black out.
        But now everything is just fluent in everything now works perfect

      • Hussain Alsanona

        I noticed one on the GM, when I connect my Bluetooth headphone to my apple watch, it disconnected and reconnected again. That was super annoying.

  • Hendo27

    Am I the only one who wants Siri to speak when I use it on my watch???

    • Merman123

      I’ve grown to it being silent on the watch. Ultimately it makes sense.

      • It should be silent but if like me you’ve connected a pair of Bluetooth headphones to it it should speak when the headphones are connected.

    • Pradhan Mn

      Then it would make her slow.reading what is present on the screen takes time.

  • Jesse Smith

    Do you have to be on iOS9? I thought you can update the watch without getting iOS 9

    • Shawn

      yes you have to have iOS 9 installed first

  • iPhoneWINS


  • diggitydang

    Probably going to have to wait awhile on devs to update apps first though, right? Apps don’t just work out of the gate on the watch. I still have some apps that I use regularly that aren’t configured for iPhone 6 or 6 Plus yet… Still has that zoomed in look. I imagine the watch apps will follow suit, but I hope I’m wrong!!

    I’m keeping my jailbreak instead for now. Someone let me know if I’m wrong please! 🙂

    • There’s a ton of Watch Apps already and now that native apps can run on the watch I’d imagine there will be even more. If your jailbroken and have an Apple Watch you’re missing out and should update to iOS 9.

      • diggitydang

        Oh man… I thought it was a no-brainer that I’d stick with my JB and Watch OS1.1… I usually agree with your comments on here though so you’re putting me on the fence. Dam You!!! Hahaha!!!

  • Chris Wagers

    2 things. Anyone notice if you tell the watch app on your phone to mirror iPhone airplane mode and you turn on airplane mode on phone it will turn airplane mode on but if you turn off airplane mode on iPhone it doesn’t turn it off on your watch. I reported this on the GM but it still exists with official release. Is it just me?

    Also do you have to tell the watch which apps to run natively or does all apps now run natively or does each app just get programmed one way or another and you have no way to tell which are or aren’t?

    • John

      To answer the first question: Think it might just be you mate, I don’t have that issue at all.

      To the second question: As a user you don’t, although it should be easier to tell since the native apps run quicker. The developer needs to integrate it into their apps.

    • fx

      It’s not a bug. If all the connections (wi-fi, bluetooth) are turned off on the AW, there is no way iPhone can tell AW to turn the Airplane mode off… That can never change.

  • Husam Hamed

    And yet it still overrides the iPhone notifications. I get notifications on my watch and nothing appears on my phone! I mean how stupid is that?! I have to unlock my phone and look for the app that had a notification to see it. At first I thought this was a bug.. but after research I found that everyone was having the same problem! I thought apple would fix this stupidity in WatchOS 2!

    • Flabalanche

      mine shows up as long as you don’t dismiss it first from the watch

      • Husam Hamed

        Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
        and even when it does, the iPhone screen doesn’t even light up! It just doesn’t make any sense!
        And also with the override, custom notifications are gone and we’re stuck with one ding for everything.
        I don’t want any features gone from my phone. I still want it to ring and vibrate! The watch is supposed to add features not take them away!

      • Flabalanche

        why would you want your watch and your phone to lite up at the same time? why even have the watch.

      • Husam Hamed

        Lets say my phone is on my desk.. Having the watch notify me of a notification on the phone that’s right in front of me while the phone stays silent like nothing happened is just plain stupid.
        Also the watch doesn’t notify you for every single message, lets say people are having a conversation in a whatsapp group.. it just rings once every few messages (some say the reason is for it not to be annoying) but that’s how I missed a lot of important messages!
        Maybe you don’t agree with my opinion, but this should at least be an optional thing since a lot of people are having this issue.

      • Flabalanche

        yeah I really like how it is. if you don’t want your watch to go off keep the phone unlocked and the watch will stay silent.

  • Pradhan Mn

    Jeff, any news on apple watch release date in india?

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  • Gregg

    Horrible battery life on Apple Watch since updating to watchOS 2 two days ago. At 10% by 2 pm, started with 100% at 9 am, hardly any usage (working in a shop, lots of dust, want to keep it clean, so it’s off my wrist most of the time). Running 9.1 public beta on iPhone 6. Battery life was great on the developer beta, still had 60% left by 6 pm with normal/regular usage.

    Anybody else seeing this? Any suggestions?