Apple has not yet announced an official launch date for its new Apple Watch, but reports indicate that steps are already being taken to integrate the Apple Watch with the company’s other products. According to 9to5Mac, the latest iOS 8.2 beta version released to developers comes with an Apple Watch iPhone app, formally referred to as the Apple Watch “Companion” app for iPhone. 9to5Mac notes, “This application manages settings for Apple Watch applications, as well as settings for iPhone/Watch interactivity.”
Setting Up the Companion App
Under the Bluetooth settings menu on the latest iOS 8.2 beta, there is a new option for connecting the iPhone to an Apple Watch device. Users will install the Apple Watch Companion app on their iPhone and use it to download applications to the Apple Watch and control watch settings.
Since the watch lacks a keyboard, 9to5Mac reports that the app will let users answer messages via voice command, a transcribed response or an actual voice message. Users can choose either option on a case-by-case basis or by default.
Accessibility features for the smartwatch are expected to be robust, much like they are on other Apple products. Accessibility settings can be managed in the Compatibility app or accessed by triple clicking the Digital Crown on the watch itself. One such setting is the VoiceOver feature that can read texts displayed on the watch screen. Using two fingers, a user can scroll through the text intended to be spoken. VoiceOver is activated one of two ways, either by double-tapping the watch display or lifting the watch. VoiceOver—plus additional settings like Zoom, MonoAudio, and Reduce Motion—can all be controlled from the Compatibility app.
Security features in the Apple Watch iPhone app include the ability to erase all data from the watch in the event it is stolen or compromised. Similar to the iPhone, Apple Watch users can establish a four-digit passcode. When the “Erase Data” feature is enabled, Apple Watch would erase all data after ten failed sign-in attempts.
This security passcode is also required to make payments via Apple Pay. According to 9to5Mac, users will have to re-enter all Apple Pay credit card details each time the passcode is removed or changed. Users can enable a setting that allows them to unlock their watch by unlocking a connected iPhone. This allows for the use of longer passwords, which can make the watch more secure. However, this feature only works when the watch is being worn.
Other Key Functions
Health and fitness is a significant Companion app component. Users can receive notifications if they’ve been sitting too long. They can even monitor physical activities and track step counts, fitness level, heart rate and calories burned. Through the app, users can set time intervals at which to receive progress updates, and they can enable and disable reminders, achievements and other health features as needed.
The Companion iPhone app also displays how much storage capacity the Apple Watch has remaining, as well as the number of apps, pictures and songs stored on the wearable device. The app will let users customize the appearance of applications on the Apple Watch home screen, including to digitally “Monogram” their own initials on the face of the watch.
Apple Watch Release Date
The Apple Watch is expected to be released in March of this year. The device is only compatible with iPhone 5 and newer models, and the starting price for the watch will be in the $349 range.
Which feature of the Apple Watch Companion app appeals most to you?
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