What new features does the latest Apple WatchOS update add to the Apple Watch? Here’s all of the big new stuff you can expect from the WatchOS 3.2 update, including how to download and install onto your Apple smartwatch.
Remember that excitement when the Apple Watch first arrived in the UK? Then remember the general feeling of meh as we realised there actually weren’t that many interesting or useful features? Well, we also recall Apple’s first and second updates and how they almost generated more excitement than the original launch. After all, they genuinely made the Apple Watch a worthy wrist occupier and a serious rival to other wearables on the market.
Updates to WatchOS have continued to roll out each year for both the original Watch and the shiny new Apple Watch 2. Each time we get a little more excited about the future of wearables in general, and especially about using the Apple Watch as a full-time phone companion.
So what’s new in the latest update to WatchOS 3.2? Here’s everything you need to know about getting the most out of your new Apple Watch features and how to actually download and install that update. We’ll also cover previous WatchOS updates and all of the best new features that have come to Apple’s smartwatch in recent times.
How to install the latest Apple WatchOS update
To update your Apple Watch to WatchOS 3.2, you’ll first need to make sure you’ve updated your tethered iPhone to the latest OS update. That should mean you’re running iOS 10.3, which you can check in the iPhone’s settings menu, under General and then About.
Next, make sure both your iPhone and your Apple Watch are charged and connected to mains power. Then go into the Apple Watch app and tap the My Watch tab, followed by the General tab. Head to Software Update and give it a tap and you’re good to go.
New Apple WatchOS 3.2 features
Here’s a closer look at the best new features added to Apple Watch by the WatchOS 3.2 update.
Apple WatchOS 3.2 offers Theatre Mode
Theatre Mode is one of the most major new features in the WatchOS 3.2 update. As the name suggests, this is made for when you head to the cinema, theatre or some other quiet event, and you don’t want to be pestered. Think Airplane Mode, but not quite as hardcore.
Theatre Mode will mute incoming alerts and stop the Watch screen from waking when you move your wrist. So while you’ll still get all your updates to the wearable, notified via haptics, you just won’t bother anyone as they come in. When you want to view them, just tap the screen or press the Digital Crown to activate the display.
SiriKit lets you talk to more apps on Apple WatchOS 3.2
Apple has added SiriKit with the new WatchOS 3.2 update. This means that the use of voice to access and control apps via the Watch is now more of a useful reality. Let’s be honest, the best way to use a smartwatch is via voice – if it works well – so this is a good step in the direction Apple needs to be going. Especially with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung Bixby are hot on its heels.
Initially SiriKit will only work with certain third party app. This means you’re limited to using your voice to control apps used for messaging, calling, payments, fitness, photo searching and transportation. Still, they’re some of the most useful ones when out and about so a good start then.
Read next: Best Apple Watch games
Previous WatchOS updates: What other new features recently came to Apple Watch?
The last big update to Apple Watch was the WatchOS 3 upgrade, first announced at WWDC 2016. This was the first major overhaul of the WatchOS interface, adding some serious strong new features and improving the overall usability.
Control Center has been a key component of the iOS experience for ages, offering quick access to toggles and shortcuts for things like WiFi connectivity. WatchOS 3 added a similarly convenient experience on the Apple Watch and this wearable version once again offers convenient access to some of the Apple Watch’s most frequently used settings. On the Series 2, you can even activate swim mode, which has the added bonus of blowing water out of the mic when it’s deactivated.
When the Apple Watch first launched, one of our biggest frustrations was hanging around for apps on your wrist to pull in key information from your phone. With WatchOS 2 this problem was alleviated somewhat thanks to local apps. However, WatchOS 3 really solved the situation with the Favourite Apps feature.
The bonus side button on the Apple Watch 2 has a real purpose, bringing up the dock which offers live previews of your favourite apps. This can be fully customised and loaded with whatever Apple Watch apps you use the most on a daily basis. These then take precedence over other applications, caching more content for a smoother experience.
SOS emergency feature
SOS is a feature you hopefully won’t have to use ever, but it’s nonetheless an important addition to the Apple Watch’s abilities.
By long-pressing that side button, your Apple Watch will automatically call the emergency services as well as your chosen ICE (in case of emergency) contact. This delivers a message your location, after which it will then display your important medical information on the watch face.
Check out our SOS feature guide for full info on this new tool.
Apple Pay support and unlock security feature for Mac OS
Customers purchasing goods or services from Apple Pay-supported websites and stores can now complete the purchase using their Watch, instead of their iPhone, for added convenience.
In addition, Mac OS Sierra includes the ability to bypass your Mac’s password screen and unlock your computer when your Apple Watch is worn and unlocked. Nice.
Apple Home support
iOS 10 features a new first party Apple app called Home, which taps into Apple’s HomeKit and by proxy any HomeKit-enabled devices.
This new functionality also extends to the Apple Watch thanks to WatchOS 3 and beyond, meaning your home can respond automatically to your wearable’s presence. Or with just a couple of taps you can turn your home electronics on and off.