On September 21st, Apple released its first major upgrade to the watchOS, version 2.0. Many new features have been included, some details still need fixing, and the upgrade process itself was problematic.
This may be a review in the article banner, but it's really more of an after action report. It's a follow up to my first reaction to the announced version 2 features: "10 Best Features of watchOS 2" in which I ranked my favorites.
Now it's time for a reality check after the install.
Image Credit: Apple
1. The Installation. The upgrade to watchOS 2 was the worst experience I've ever had with an Apple product. The total time for me, from when I launched the upgrade in the Apple Watch app on my iPhone 6 (iOS 9) to when I had a working Apple Watch, running watchOS 2.0 was five hours. Lest you think I have a poor connection, here's a screen shot of the latest speed test on my iPhone 6.
Here's a summary of my upgrade experience.
- Really slow download of the update file. About two hours.
- A false error message that the iPhone 6 was not on the Internet.
- The inability to stop the download with a hard reboot so as to try an install later. The glacial download progress survived an app quit and reboot. After reboot, the progress sped up however.
- A false error message that the iPhone could not connect to the Apple Watch when, in fact, the installation progress circle was active.
- On a positive note, when I decided to go for a walk and the iPhone politely said it would decline to continue to download the 515 MB update via cellular. That's standard practice in order to avoid taxing user data caps.
- A borked progress timer that went from 36, 33, 32, 20, 9, then 15 minutes remaining. Then resumed from 15 down to zero.
I was not alone. TMO staff members reported very similar problems. A good friend texted me with "Hey, were you able to update your watch? I've been stuck on verification for almost 4 hours."
I understand that Apple's servers were likely taxed. However, most of us had no problems with the larger iOS 9 upgrade. This upgrade was not a happy experience for me and others.
2. Time Travel. As expected, this is a pretty nifty feature. A good way to see it in action is to use the Modular watch face and rotate the Digital Crown. If you have compatible complications, like the temperature, they'll all update as you go forwards or backwards in time. This is a very cool feature, well implemented. Tap the digital Crown to return to the present.
Looking forward in time by about 2 hours.
Events and temperature get updated.
3. Complications are more orthogonal. In watchOS 1.x, not every standard complication was available on every section of every Apple Watch face. That has changed for the better now. Most every complication is available in all the outer sections of the various faces. One exception is the middle section on the Utility face.
4. Still no digital seconds. There is still no watch face that displays digital hh:mm:ss. One would think that, of all places, it would appear on the Astronomy face. It does not. This is an oversight bordering on negligence. No. It is negligence. Understandable in 1.x. Unforgivable in 2.0.
Tim Cook has claimed that the Apple Watch is accurate to 50 milliseconds, but if you want to even see whole seconds, you'll have to look at an analog watch face, such as Utility, Simple or Color. The problem here is that if you're reporting an event timing, you'll have to switch to an analog face and visually interpret where the second hand is. That's not a good as seeing hh:mm:ss in plain numbers. This is a surprising lack of attention to detail by Apple.
5. New watch faces. Several new watch faces have been added. You can sync a named photo album on your iPhone to the Apple Watch and select your favorite photo. Do that with the iPhone Watch app > My Watch > Photos > Synced Album. As with the Time Lapse faces, there are no additional complications available. That makes it a half-baked feature.
Next page: Stay awake, Wi-Fi mode, the Color watch face, Nightstand mode, documentation and final thoughts.