The long-awaited software update for Apple's first wearable device was made available on Monday following a delay brought about by a bug found during the testing process.
Apple last Wednesday, which was supposed to greatly enhance the capabilities of its smartwatch, including allowing the device to better run third-party applications. The company didn't say at that time when the software would be available.
The delay of Watch OS 2 echoed the setback a year ago when Apple's iOS 8 mobile software for iPhones and iPads launched with numerous bugs that caused problems with Wi-Fi, the Touch ID system and other functions. An update that quickly followed caused even more issues. Apple finally resolved the problems more than a week after iOS 8 launched.
Apple, which updates its mobile software every year, needs to keep the system fresh to maintain customers' interest in its products and to ensure that software developers keep making apps for its devices. The refreshes are also vital to keep Apple in step with competitors like Google;in iOS 9 serve as a counter to the predictive capabilities that Google Now and Google Now On Tap can deliver to Android device users.
A high percentage of Apple's device owners update their phones and tablets within a few weeks or months after the software hits the market. As of August 31, 87 percent of Apple mobile device users had upgraded to iOS 8, while 12 percent were still using iOS 7, leaving a tiny fraction running yet older versions of Apple's mobile software. On Monday, Apple said that half of its to iOS 9, which was released last Wednesday. By comparison, as of September 7, only 21 percent of Android device users had installed Lollipop, the latest version of Google's mobile software, which launched in late 2014.
Given the new capabilities found in Watch OS 2, it's likely that Apple Watch users are eager to upgrade.
The update issued Monday lets apps run directly on the Apple Watch, meaning they can tap into features like the heart-rate sensor, microphone and video playback. Previously, all apps had to run through an iPhone, which limited their capabilities and caused many Apple Watch users to complain about slowness and lack of functionality. Other features include new watch faces, a nightstand mode and a "time travel" feature to look at upcoming appointments, alarms and events.
Some apps that take advantage of Watch OS 2 include the AirStrip patient-monitoring app, CNN, Facebook Messenger, the Kayak travel-booking app, the iTranslate language translator app, the Strava fitness-tracking app and the GoPro app that acts as a remote viewfinder for the camera.