How watchOS 5 Brings Rich Web Content to Messages and Mail on Apple Watch

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's latest version of watchOS promises to bring rich HTML content to the wrists of Apple Watch users, thanks to new Webkit optimizations that improve apps like Mail and Messages.

    Apple expanded on the new WebKit features at a WWDC session, in which it explained to developers how they can optimize web content for viewing on Apple Watch screens.


    Currently in the watchOS Mail app, rich HTML messages are rendered in a text-only format and users are prompted to view the content on another device for the full experience.

    Likewise, tapping a URL link received in Mail or Messages directs Apple Watch users to their iPhone to view the web page.

    However, in watchOS 5, full HTML emails are capable of being displayed on Apple Watch in cases where text-only formatting can't express the content of the message, and users can also view web page links, as well as interact with them, albeit in a limited way.

    For example, turning the Digital Crown on Apple Watch scrolls the HTML content vertically, or users can drag with their finger to move up and down the page, while double-tapping zooms the content in and out, similar to iPhone.

    In a Force Touch addition, a firm press on the Apple Watch screen reveals back and forward buttons to navigate through your viewing history (swiping left and right does the same thing).


    Apple says it achieved the WebKit optimizations by shrinking the 320-pixel display used by the iPhone SE to fit the 156-pixel width of the Apple Watch display, and then computing the initial scale of the page so that the content width fits within the smaller screen. Basically, this allows text and images to appear smaller while preserving the overall layout of the page.

    Apple notes that the optimizations are aimed at quickly consuming content, so some features like video playback and web fonts aren't currently available. However, users will be able to interact with forms within HTML content, and there's also an Safari-like Reader mode, which automatically activates on text-heavy web pages (the Reader Mode option is also accessible via Force Touch, so users can choose to read pages on their watch with extraneous content stripped out).

    watchOS 5, due for release in the fall, promises several other improvements and features, including Walkie-Talkie for touch-to-talk communications with friends, automatic workout detection, and updates to the Siri watch face.

    Article Link: How watchOS 5 Brings Rich Web Content to Messages and Mail on Apple Watch
  2. Blackstick macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2014
    Sunny South Florida
    I have this justifiable feeling my Series 1 is going to be dog slow when this rolls around in September.
  3. groovyf, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018

    groovyf macrumors 6502

    Dec 15, 2010
    Halifax, UK
    I hope this is a toggle. Doesn't Mail app by default (macOS) not load external content unless you click the link to "Download all images"?
    I cna't help but think that "nasties" could be loaded to the watch via this rich HTML view.

    [Edit: corrected "phone" to "watch"]
  4. roguedaemon macrumors newbie


    Apr 16, 2015
    Am I the only one that thinks the screen is way too damn small to read an article on a holiday destination as demonstrated?
    I just think it’d look really dumb and feel really dumb if you were squinting at this tiny little screen scrolling thru an article.
    Just pull out your phone it’d be so much quicker!!

    I can barely read a text on mine, I just see oh cool I have a notification and pull out my phone.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 7, 2018 ---
    Is that not all computers tho? I’d feel safest on an Apple smart device rather than an android or windows based computer.
  5. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    I get the sense that Apple still doesn’t know what they’re doing with the Apple Watch and they’re just throwing ideas at it and seeing what sticks.
  6. roguedaemon macrumors newbie


    Apr 16, 2015
    I agree.
    I think others see this as well, as evidenced by quite a few companies pulling their watch apps from the store.
  7. Relentless Power, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018

    Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    They must be doing something right, with its popularity. However, Can you elaborate on this? I mean it’s rather vague what you’re saying. In terms of where watchOS once was and where it is now, how is it “They don’t what they’re doing”? I also think anytime Apple introduces something new, it must have some type of acceptance in order for it to be useful to somebody. I’m not sure how others don’t expect software to expand if they don’t try new things.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 7, 2018 ---
    We know the iPhone would serve a different purpose for a larger display, but Apple Watch is nice because you don’t have to have your iPhone with you all the time to glance at the display to see something and then revert to the iPhone if you want to. OtherWise, it sounds like the Apple Watch isn’t really for you based on your concerns over a small screen, given its alternative functionality.
  8. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Here on MR people are often vocal about wanting to have options with Apple products.

    Being (soon) able to display web pages on the Watch is an option (and it could become an interesting one) - nothing more, nothing less.

    Besides, perhaps Apple already has a plan within a bigger picture, which could benefit from this functionality in the future.

    <scenario speculation>
    A future AppleWatch will replace the iPhone as central unit for lightweight tasks, using AR glasses as display and voice&gestures for interaction.
    </scenario speculation>
  9. spazzcat macrumors 68030


    Jun 29, 2007
    My S1 seems the same as before with 5.
  10. iPhysicist macrumors 65816


    Nov 9, 2009
    The 38 does have a lower pixel count than stated. So this could be hint they actually do want to increase the screen real estate as Analysts speculate.
  11. justiny Contributor


    Jul 28, 2008
    Fairfield, NJ
    I disagree. Apple has dramatically improved the Watch far beyond what we saw with the first generation.

    That being said, displaying HTML and web content on a tiny display is not a critical feature. The Watch excels in several different ways, and I’d rather not see Apple stretch certain features beyond its capabilities.

    If this destroys the battery life or throttles the performance, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
  12. dmylrea macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2005
    How is this different that what the Outlook app can already do? I can tap on an HTML email and it shows the entire thing (very small, of course).
  13. bluecoast macrumors 6502a

    Nov 7, 2017
    Agreed. If the Watch form factor changes I’m probably getting a new one.

    Else my watch is absolutely staying on watchOS 4.x !
  14. Smigit macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2011
    I’m pretty excited to see this myself. I think most of my emails contain HTML and while o don’t want a full desktop experience, right now those emails are impossible to check on the Watch. If this can at least make the more simple ones readable I think it’ll be a great update.
  15. M.PaulCezanne macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2014
    At the risk of sounding like a hater (I’m not), you could reasonably and unfortunately change “Apple Watch” in your quote to a blank and pretty much fill in any Apple product these days.
  16. FellaMeLad macrumors regular


    Jun 22, 2015
    And Samsung, too :)
  17. HiVolt macrumors 6502


    Sep 29, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    And yet a critical feature of a smart watch is still missing, custom watch faces.

    They would sell double what they sell now, and Apple and developers would make a killing off watch faces.

    I really dislike how Apple just refuses the users to customize the look of their Watches beyond what is included, and it's not a lot, i keep using the Modular face because it can display the most, but it looks ugly.
  18. deadoctopi macrumors member


    Oct 23, 2015
    Columbus, OH
    this ^ I would settle for them just letting me use a photo and put two large complications on it or fill it with small. or letting me take away the large time from modular and swap it out. really anything, just let me shove what i can fit into the watch face.

    if they don’t want to let the app store get filled with crappy “wallpaper for watch” apps just let users do it, themselves.
  19. brueck macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    #19's not eligible for the upgrade.
  20. Xenc, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2018

    Xenc macrumors 65816


    May 8, 2010
    London, England
  21. RedWing512 macrumors regular

    May 14, 2014
    You're right, there's nothing wrong with trying "new things", except this isn't new and has been done before. And it went over as well as many of us are saying it did. It's things like this that have caused many developers to remove their watch apps from the App Store. All watch-based platforms have been around long enough and have matured to the point that we all know what works best on devices like this--short nuggets of content, such as sports scores, notifications or health vitals. Anything beyond that is overkill, and does not provide an enjoyable experience.

    Of course, even if it sucks, people will still buy & use the watch, because what else out there comes close to matching the Apple Watch for functionality?

    When it comes to HTML-based e-mails, web designers should be providing a text-based alternative to devices that can't properly load the content, i.e., the Apple Watch. If they don't, then it's a failure on their part and they need to be called out on it. It shouldn't be Apple's job to make designers lazier.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 7, 2018 ---
    Wrong. The Apple website explicitly states that WatchOS 5 is coming to Series 1.
  22. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Can I, as a web developer, set a 156px media query breakpoint to target the Apple Watch specifically or is this an automatically scaling only thing with no way to override it? I can't even test the beta on my Series 0 and won't upgrade until the Series 4 this autumn.

    I kind of want to be cheeky and put up a fixed position overlay that says in white on black background: NO.

    But in all seriousness though, I feel like some of my designs are robust enough that I could scale the text size up and make it a little more usable with a simple media query. I've often been frustrated when my wife sends me a link to something on my Watch and I can't just tap it to see what it's about really quick. It would be neat if when opening a link you could force touch and bring up a button to send a reminder to your iPhone lock screen that, when tapped, will open up the webpage on the device whenever you get around to it.
  23. AppleMad98004 macrumors 6502

    Aug 23, 2011
    Cylde Hill, WA
    There are rumors of a larger screen (no or tiny bezel) for Apple Watch Series 4. Obviously more powerful CPU is coming. Apple always designs for the latest hardware.
  24. harriska2 macrumors 6502


    Mar 16, 2011
    Mine’s already dog slow. This might bring it to a screeching halt. Fortunately I don’t use a lot of even built in apps - even so I love the watch.
  25. RedWing512 macrumors regular

    May 14, 2014
    Then why not restrict it to the next model? Why exactly do they have to show it off now? If it's that much more amazing on what's next, then just wait until then to show off the functionality.

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