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WatchOS 3 will actually make you want to use apps on your wrist

The latest update to the Apple Watch will greatly improve performance of third-party apps when it arrives this fall.


This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

Now playing: Watch this: Apple Watch launches new OS and apps

Apple on Monday announced WatchOS 3, the next iteration of its watch-centric operating system. The latest update will arrive this fall and add new features that aim to improve how users interact with their Apple Watch.

One area of improvement will be app performance, which has long been a sore subject for Apple Watch owners. Apps on the watch previously had a noticeable delay before launching, however this will no longer be the case. Kevin Lynch, VP of technology at Apple, explained that performance is now seven times faster than before, which should result in near instantaneous app launches.

"It's seven times faster, but it feels like 1,000 times faster," Lynch said during the company's WWDC keynote. "The apps are now glance-able and interactive."

Now playing: Watch this: Apple encourages smack talk with Activity app update

In addition to a new fitness watch face, WatchOS 3 will allow Apple Watch users to share activity data with friends and family members, which has long been featured fitness trackers from competitors Fitbit and Garmin. There will also be a new app, called Breathe, that is designed to help users practice deep breathing, which Lynch explained has been found to be a good way to reduce stress, calm the body and improve health.

The Apple Watch and other wrist-based fitness trackers previously weren't tailored to those with disabilities, but Apple hopes to change that. With WatchOS 3, the Apple Watch will now be able to measure spins, speed, distance and calories burned. It can also be set to remind users when it is time to spin their chairs, rather than the "stand" reminders.

Other updates include a new Control Center that is similar to the one on iOS and provides quick access to battery life and settings for Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb and more. The way you respond to messages will also get an improvement. A new feature, called Scribble, will let users write and respond to messages using their fingers.

Lastly, WatchOS 3 adds a special SOS feature when you press and hold the side button. The watch will be able to dial emergency services and share your location. When activated, it will also switch the display to list your medical details from the Health app.

WatchOS 3 will arrive as a free update for Apple Watch owners this fall.

Get more -- lots more -- on Apple's announcements with our full coverage and our archived live blog.