Apple Watch users who miss the Time Travel feature that was removed in watchOS 5 might have a reason to rejoice. According to a report by Neowin, Apple is working on bringing back the feature in a future update of watchOS, possibly in watchOS 8. Time Travel was a feature that allowed users to rotate the digital crown to see past or future information on their watch face, such as calendar events, weather forecasts, or reminders. The feature was introduced in watchOS 2 and was supported by some third-party apps and watch faces, but it was discontinued in watchOS 5, which was released in 2018.
Apple did not give an official explanation for why it removed Time Travel from watchOS 5, but some possible reasons are:
- The feature was not very popular among users, as it was turned off by default and required a specific watch face and complication to work.
- The feature was confusing or annoying for some users, who accidentally triggered it by rotating the digital crown and saw their watch face change unexpectedly.
- The feature was incompatible with some of the new features introduced in watchOS 5, such as the Siri watch face, which dynamically updates information based on the user’s context and preferences.
- The feature was redundant with some of the other ways to access information on the Apple Watch, such as Siri, notifications, or the app dock.
How might Apple bring back Time Travel?
The report by Neowin cites a patent application filed by Apple in 2019, which describes a method for providing time-shifted information on a wearable device. The patent suggests that Apple is exploring ways to improve the Time Travel feature and make it more useful and intuitive for users. Some of the possible improvements are:
- The feature would be activated by a gesture, such as a swipe or a tap, rather than by rotating the digital crown, which would prevent accidental activation and free up the digital crown for other functions.
- The feature would be compatible with any watch face and complication, rather than requiring a specific one, which would increase the availability and variety of information that can be accessed.
- The feature would be context-aware, meaning that it would show relevant information based on the user’s location, activity, or preferences, rather than showing generic information that may not be useful or interesting.
- The feature would be interactive, meaning that the user could perform actions on the time-shifted information, such as adding or deleting events, adjusting settings, or launching apps, rather than just viewing the information.
When might Apple bring back Time Travel?
The report by Neowin does not specify when Apple might bring back Time Travel, but it notes that the patent application was filed in 2019, which means that Apple has been working on the feature for at least two years. It is possible that Apple is waiting for the right time to reintroduce the feature, such as when it launches a new version of watchOS or a new model of Apple Watch. The latest version of watchOS is watchOS 7, which was released in September 2020, and the latest model of Apple Watch is the Apple Watch Series 6, which was also released in September 2020. Therefore, it is plausible that Apple might bring back Time Travel in watchOS 8, which is expected to be released in the fall of 2021, along with the Apple Watch Series 7.