Apple unveiled a new upgrade to its watch this week, which will significantly enhance the device's usefulness. Apple unveiled a new upgrade to its watch this week, which will significantly enhance the device's usefulness. Apple unveiled a new upgrade to its watch this week, which will significantly enhance the device's usefulness. (Photo: Stephen Lam / Getty Images)

Why the Apple Watch is about to become more useful

App developers praise upgrade that will significantly enhance user experience.

As soon as the Apple Watch debuted in April, complaints started to roll in: It was slow, it was clunky, it really couldn't do much. Sure, it garnered you envious looks from passersby, but all it really did was tell the time. In short, it was not the futuristic watch we were all promised as little kids watching "Dick Tracy."

Well, that's about to change.

On Monday, at its World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple unveiled its highly anticipated upgrade to the watch. Until now, most of the available programs have just been iPhone apps truncated to fit a tiny screen. That transformed once powerful and robust apps into mere shadows of their former selves. For example, you could read an email, but not actually reply. Needless to say, that didn't provide the best user experience.

The new software will now let people dictate responses to email, but will also do so much more. Apps that were once built for an iPhone will now be built specifically for use on the watch, creating more useful and organic programs. The computer giant is also giving developers easier access to the internal sensors and features of the watch so they can build more programs that are specifically tailored to the watch.

"We are particularly excited that Apple is providing access to the watch's microphone and speaker, as well as giving us the capability to play video directly on the Apple Watch," Ari Roisman, CEO and co-founder of Glide, told From The Grapevine.

His Jerusalem-based company had been working on a video messaging app for the Apple Watch even before it debuted. The initial iteration of the watch – far from perfect – left some Glide users hoping for more. And it appears Apple has taken note. "These developments will enable us to deliver a much-improved user experience to users of Glide for the Apple Watch," Roisman added.

Programs that are built specifically for the watch – known as "native apps" – can load faster and have greater capabilities than mere iPhone apps masquerading as something more. In addition, since the release of the watch in April, app developers have had more time to spend with the product, thereby allowing them to refine their software. Prior to its release, they were playing more of a guessing game until they got their hands on an actual device.

One of the biggest upgrades announced Monday is that the watch will no longer need to be tethered to a nearby iPhone to connect to the Internet, but can now surf using available WiFi networks.

“By opening up the platform, [developers] will be able to create new and powerful use cases that today we can only begin to imagine,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the event.

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