It's a big time for the Apple Watch. Not only did it get its first hardware upgrade — adding GPS connectivity, waterproofing, and a brighter screen in the Apple Watch Series 2 — but it got a major update to its underlying operating system, watchOS. That means there are plenty of new opportunities to use your Apple Watch in ways you might never have known about before. Here's a list of 21 top tips for the Apple Watch under watchOS 3.
watchOS 3 dramatically increases responsiveness of your most frequently used apps. The system gives priority to the apps you keep in the new Dock or add as Complications to your watch faces. If there's an app you find yourself loading often, make sure you add it to the Dock or place as a Complication on a watch face, so that it's treated as a priority app and granted special access to stay in memory and keep up to date when you're not actively using it.
The biggest addition to the Apple Watch interface in watchOS 3 is the Dock, a collection of important apps that you can get to quickly by pressing the button on the side of the watch. When you press that button, you'll see a strip of apps you can swipe through to quickly jump to the app you want to use.
watchOS 3 always keeps the app you've most recently used at the end of the Dock (unless that App's already in the Dock, of course). To add it permanently, swipe to the app and then wait a moment until you're presented with a Keep in Dock button. Tap that button, and the app will stay in your Dock all the time, and will be granted special permission to stay in memory and update in the background.
You can move apps around in the Dock, so you can put them in exactly the order that you prefer. To do this, press the side button, then swipe to find the app you want to move. Place your finger on that app — don't press forcefully, just gently rest your finger until the dock zooms back and a green indicator appears at the top of the screen indicating what the app's current position in the Dock is, counting from left to right. To move that app to a different location, drag the app around without lifting your finger. Once it's in the right place, lift your finger to keep it on that spot.
The Dock is limited to 10 items. If you want to add a new app to the Dock, and you're already at 10, you'll need to remove an app before you do so. You might also find that 10 is a lot of apps to keep in the Dock, and want to do a little housekeeping. To remove an app from the Dock, open the dock, swipe to the app you want to remove, and then swipe upward on the app to reveal a Remove icon. Tap it, and the app will be removed from the Dock.
There's one item that you'll find in the Dock that isn't actually an app at all. Whenever your iPhone is playing audio, you'll find Now Playing in your Dock. This item isn't tied to any particular app — it will appear when any app, from Apple Music to Spotify to Audible, is playing.
This item replaces the old Now Playing glance that used to be available on watchOS, and it's got the same purpose: to let you quickly change tracks or adjust the volume of the audio you're listening to. My favorite feature of the Now Playing Dock item is that when it's active, you can adjust the volume of your audio by moving the Digital Crown.
iOS 10 added the concept of a "tapback" to Messages — a quick icon-based reaction to a specific text message sent via the Messages app. That same feature was also added to the Messages app in watchOS 3. When you're viewing a conversation, tap twice on a message bubble to send back an icon reaction, such as a heart, a laugh, or a thumbs up. It's a quick way to react to something someone said without needing to compose a text or emjoi reply.
When you're viewing a conversation in Messages, one of your options is the Emoji button, represented by a smiley face. Behind this button is a much richer interface than in previous editions of watchOS, with several pages of options. Swipe from left to right to get to the first page, which will show you stickers, handwritten messages, and emoji that you've used recently. The second page contains a complete set of emoji, but scroll up to the top for icons that will let you jump quickly to a specific category of emoji, as well as a large list of your most frequently sent emoji.