Initial Thoughts on watchOS 4

During this morning’s WWDC keynote, Kevin Lynch took to the stage to announce watchOS 4. The new operating system will be available this fall for all Apple Watches — that includes the original, Series 0 models. The following is my notes from the announcement.

  • I’m glad the folks at Apple are continuing to design new watch faces. The Siri face is clearly the standout, with its ability to surface relevant information for you automatically, but there are certainly Watch owners who will enjoy the kaleidoscope and Toy Story faces, too.
  • I wish Apple would build a second modular face that puts the time in the center with six small complications evenly split between the bottom and top of the screen. That kind of information density would be great for a lot of users.
  • Personalized Activity notifications that encourage you to push yourself toward an achievable goal sound like exactly what I’ve been looking for.
  • Now that I have AirPods, my interest in having music available to play on my Watch is much higher. But, as of right now, My primary music player, Plex, doesn’t support the Apple Watch at all. I’m resistant to the idea of paying a monthly fee to listen to music, but Apple is making a compelling argument with their ability to integrate their service into all of their devices. Automatic syncing of music to the Watch is such a killer feature.
  • Having the Dock rotate vertically makes perfect sense, given that the Watch’s band extends in that direction around your wrist. I’m not sure about the Dock being a list of your most recently launched apps, though. I liked the ability to choose what apps I wanted quick access to and I’m worried that the new Dock might force me to use the honeycomb app launcher, which I typically avoid at all costs.
  • I’m shocked that Apple is supporting the original, series 0 with watchOS 4. The Series 1 and 2 models were such a leap forward in performance that I didn’t expect Apple to go through the trouble of optimizing for the Series 0. But there might just be too many original Watches in use for Apple to ignore.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the updates coming to the Apple Watch. I’m especially excited to try out the Siri watch face. As much as I like using the modular face, I wouldn’t mind changing it up from time to time. And I’m interested to see how useful Apple’s prediction algorithms are. If they’re any good, the Siri face could end up being a really big deal.

watchOS 4’s support for the original Apple Watch does put a wrinkle in my plans. I originally expected to upgrade my Series 0 to whatever the latest model is this fall, but that might not be necessary now. My Watch is a tad slower than I’d like, but it gets the job done. And it doesn’t cost me two or three hundred dollars to continue using it. Unless Apple releases a new Watch with some blow away feature, I might hold onto my Series 0 a little while longer.

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