watchOS 3 gets New Health, Fitness, Communication Features

Apple started off its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote event with watchOS 3, the next version of the Apple Watch operating system. The new version will include performance improvements, easier access to favorite apps, new clock faces, handwriting recognition, and SOS on Watch for contacting emergency services from your wrist.

watchOS 3's new fitness tracking interfaceswatchOS 3's new fitness tracking interfaces

watchOS 3 stores your favorite apps in memory and updates data in the background so they open instantly and show current data without waiting for information to download from your iPhone. Favorite apps can be stored in a new Dock, too, accessible by tapping the watch's side button.

The new version adds in Control Center, much like the same feature on the iPhone, for quick access to commonly used settings.

Scribble brings handwriting recognition to Apple Watch by letting users write replies in Messages. Scribble translates each letter into text, and supports multiple languages.

Apple is taking a deeper interest in health and fitness with watchOS 3. First up, there's SOS on Watch that contacts emergency services through your iPhone's cellular connection, or via WiFi voice calling. It also sends an emergency alert to contacts you specify. Apple is adding a new Breath app for watch users who practice breathing exercises.

Wheelchair users are getting some Apple Watch love with fitness tracking features designed for them, along with reminders to roll instead of reminders to stand.

A preview version of watchOS 3 is available for registered Apple developers today, and will launch for the public later this year.