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Christmas Gift Guide

Watch OS 2

More to do without your phone

More friends

Nightstand mode

Photo album watch faces

Time Travel

New complications

New apps

Transit directions

Transit maps

A new time-lapse watch face

Wi-Fi calling, new apps, improved fitness and a major revamp to watch faces. These are the features we're most excited about, and more, in Watch OS 2.

This gallery was originally published September 16, 2015, and has been updated with our latest impressions.

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On recognized Wi-Fi networks, the Apple Watch will finally start feeling like a stand-alone gadget with Watch OS 2: communicating with doodles (with other Apple Watch owners); FaceTime Audio and Wi-Fi calling; and using online-connected apps.

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There used to be just one wheel of friends, limited to 12 of your closest contacts. Now you can add extra social circles on your wrist: each one with 12 slots.

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Go ahead and call this "alarm clock mode" because everyone else will. When charging your watch, it now displays the time and alarm on its side. Then tap the digital crown to snooze.

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It's not rocket science, but the ability to add your own photos to Apple Watch adds an extra dose of personalization; it's the new wallet snapshot.

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The digital crown can perform an additional trick when checking the time: spinning back and forth in time. Checking on past or future appointments, weather, travel or earlier stock prices amounts to a clever at-a-glance way of peeking at your day planner.

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Those little bits of pop-up info on the Apple Watch watch faces can now hook into third-party apps: Dark Sky for weather (shown), or eventually sports scores, flight information or tweets.

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Apps will finally be able to take advantage of the microphone, accelerometer, sensors and the vibrating Taptic Engine, and even work away from the iPhone, like this PCalc calculator app. Facebook Messenger is one of the next-wave apps we're most looking forward to.

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Baked-in transit maps and directions fed right into Maps should make the Apple Watch a much better navigator...or at least help it compete against Android Wear's Google Maps.

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Subway lines and other public transit are overlaid onto Apple Maps on the watch, at last.

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Pick a city, and a quick time-lapse background gets served up alongside the time. If only this had complications, too.

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