4 watchOS 2 improvements you didn’t know you wanted

by Evan Killham September 21, 2015

Apple’s second major iteration of its wearable firmware, watchOS 2, is finally out today, and it has some extra fun features hiding along with all of the ones the company has been talking about since it first announced the update back in June.

Sure, native apps and custom watch faces are cool, but watchOS 2 also contains some smaller updates that you have to look for. Here are some of the hidden gems.

New animated emoji

If you were disappointed that you have to wait until OS 9.1 to start flipping things off, well … you’ll still feel a little let down because it isn’t showing up in watchOS 2, either. But what you do get are about 25 brand-new animated ways to express emotions when words just won’t do.

You can access the animated emoji in your Messages app on the Apple Watch by tapping Reply in a conversation. Then, you can either dictate a reply or hit the smiley face to get to the good stuff. Animated emoji come in three flavors: smileys, hearts, and hands, and most of the new options are for the smiley tab. The rest are hands, but don’t feel too badly for the hearts because we’ve probably tapped their potential completely. You can use Force Touch to switch smiley colors between yellow and red just like before.

First, the faces:

Here are the new faces in watchOS 2.
Photo: Apple

You have a selection of three kinds of sunglasses depending on your preference, and a few ways to say that you’re sick or injured. But Apple also made a subtle change to all of the animated smileys with closed eyes, adding little lines to emphasize that the eyes are, in fact, closed and not missing.

And here are some new things to do with your hands:

watchOS 2 is even more hands-on. Or in. Or something.
Photo: Apple

If one thumbs-up is not sufficient for what you’re feeling, now you can throw up the Fonzi Double. You can also raise the roof now, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. But the fist bump is probably going to get a lot of (usually sarcastic) use in my Apple Watch.

Siri can start your workouts now

Apple’s digital assistant has new powers and abilities in watchOS 2. It can now save you a trip into the Workouts app to start your routine. All you have to do is summon Siri by holding down on the Digital Crown and then saying, “Start an outdoor walk,” or whichever other option you want, and it will do that for you. It can’t stop it, however; you’ll still have to use Force Touch for that, but it’ll at least save some time off of your start.

Siri also works with Homekit

When we reviewed the iHome Smart Plug, one of its small issues was that I couldn’t turn my lamp off and on with my Watch; I had to use my iPhone. And it seems that that was Apple’s omission instead of iHome’s because I’ve been turning that lamp off and on by talking to my wrist all day, and I’m sure my neighbors have loved it.

It’s a tiny convenience but an important one if the connected home is going to catch on for daily use.

A bigger and more finger-friendly keypad

Big, square buttons fit for a big, square watch.
Photo: Apple

Entering your passcode to unlock your Apple Watch, especially on the smaller, 38mm screen, was a pretty tough proposition. Sometimes it felt like Apple had specifically designed those buttons to thwart you.

But watchOS 2 is sporting some larger, more user-friendly keys, and we’re really enjoying them. Check out the difference between the old keypad (on a 42mm Apple Watch) and the new one (on a 38 mm model).

If you’ve discovered anything surprising and great in watchOS 2, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Evan Killham
Evan Killham


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Learn about your Apple Watch

Ditch the Apple Watch Sport band, get Shift instead

by Kristal Chan November 16, 2018

A pair of avid runners turned engineers have reinvented the watch band into something kind of genius, and we’ve got it in the Cult of Mac Watch Store. Your Apple Watch provides a torrent of information – so why wear it in the same spot as the watch your great-grandfather wore? Putting key stats and […]

Continue Reading

Level up your Apple Watch game with these striking saffiano leather bands

by Kristal Chan November 15, 2018

If you love Apple Watch Series 4’s streamlined body but crave some color and vibrancy to up the fashion ante, look no further than these saffiano leather Apple Watch bands from Casetify. The Cult of Mac Watch Store partnered with Casetify — big believers in self-expression through tech accessories — for a while now. But […]

Continue Reading

Wiplabs Link bracelet is built just for your Apple Watch

by Kristal Chan November 14, 2018

Link is Wiplabs’ beautiful Apple Watch link bracelet crafted from 316L stainless steel alloy with a custom butterfly closure. It’s the best way to enhance your Apple Watch at a reasonable cost. We filmed an unboxing video to give you a hands-on glimpse at this handsome accessory, which is available now at the Cult of Mac Watch Store.

Continue Reading