New Delhi: Apple announced watchOS 2 - an update to the watch operating system, and said it will release the programming tools that independent developers need to build apps that can interact directly with the watch's hardware and sensors.
It means that developers will now be able to make apps specifically for Apple Watch and interact directly with the watch's sensors and controls, such as the dial. Third-party apps for the watch had been limited to being extensions of apps that run on the iPhone.
The watch still requires a link to the iPhone to perform many functions, but Apple's Kevin Lynch said the new software upgrade will let the watch connect directly to WiFi networks, so it will be able to provide some services even if the owner's iPhone isn't nearby.
While tech experts see big opportunities in wearable devices, some consumers are "still on the fence," said app-builder Jordan Edelson of Appetizer Mobile. He said the new app-building tools will help developers show how useful the watch can be.
Apple did not release any sales figures for the watch, which it began selling in April.
New Apple Watch features
Apple's watchOS 2 lets users turn favourite photo into a new watch face or view pictures from their favourite photo album with every raise of their wrist with the new Photo and Photo Album watch faces.
With the Time-Lapse watch face, users can choose from a selection of time-lapse videos shot over 24 hours.
A new Time Travel feature will let users scroll with the Digital Crown to explore events in the future (and past) including upcoming meetings or activities, the temperature for the week, and information from third-party apps, such as upcoming flight information.
With Mail, users can respond quickly using dictation, Smart Replies or emoji straight from the Watch.
They can also create multiple Friends screens, each of which can hold up to twelve friends, and new friends can be added directly on Apple Watch.
Digital Touch lets users draw and send sketches with multiple colours on the same canvas, giving you more tools for creative sketches.
The Nightstand Mode is capable of transforming Apple Watch into a alarm clock, with the Digital Crown and side button serving as snooze and off buttons for the alarm.
It now has support for Transit in Maps, thereby allowing users to view detailed transportation maps and schedules, including walking directions to the nearest stations with entrances and exits precisely mapped.
The new watchOS 2 will be available this fall as a free update to Apple Watch. Apple Watch requires iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2 or later.
(With inputs from Associated Press)