Here’s everything that’s new, improved and enhanced in watchOS 2

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?