Clearing Up a Major watchOS 3 Misconception

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

I've been hearing a lot of chatter about watchOS 3 on the podcasts and blogs we all follow, and there has been something we don't usually hear: positive talk about the Apple Watch. Yes, it's true, the Apple Watch is getting new life in watchOS 3, and even the great Watch cynics are coming around, at least a little. But in all this talk there has also been one bit of incorrect information I felt the need to set straight.

I've heard numerous people comment that Watch apps will need to be rewritten to take advantage of the "always on" features of watchOS 3. I was expecting this to be the case as well, but it actually isn't! If you install the watchOS 3 beta today1, any app you put in the dock or in one of your watch face complications will run 24/7 in the background.

It's pretty amazing, and the apps really do launch as fast as they did on stage 2 weeks ago at WWDC. My dock has:

  • Now Playing
  • Workout
  • Television Time
  • MLB At Bat
  • Feedbin
  • Find My Friends

While my complications have:

  • CARROT Weather
  • Timer
  • Messages

All these apps launch instantly any time I tap on them. I've been on the beta for about 10 days and I'm still amazed every time this works as well as it does. It seriously feels like a brand new watch.

While all apps have the capacity to stay running all the time, there are some apps that you probably don't want to put in your dock until they are updated for watchOS 3. One example is Strava, which is my running app of choice. I wanted to keep it in my dock so I could start a run as soon as possible, but I started to notice my iPhone was constantly saying "Strava is using your location" even when I wasn't using the app at all. It turned out to be because Strava was literally always running on the watch, which meant it was always pulling my GPS location from the phone. This devastated my battery life on both the phone and watch, so I removed Strava from the dock and now all is well.

While that was an unfortunate beta problem, it did go to prove that yes, these apps are indeed always running even if they aren't on screen. Who knew this little Apple Watch 1.0 was such a proficient multitasker!

  1. And I don't think you should.