Watch Dock Background Refresh

Discussion in 'Apple Watch Apps' started by josh1014, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. josh1014 macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2007
    Wondering if anyone knows the answer to this.

    Seems like the messages app while in the dock will remain updated the moment a new message is received while other apps will only update the moment you swipe over to them in the dock. This remains true even with some of the few apps that have been updated for watch os 3 that I've tested. Is this a current third party app limitation?
  2. coreyk macrumors member


    Oct 20, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    In watchOS 3, an app that's in the dock gets launched periodically in the background to update the display so that it's ready for you when you switch back over (it's called WKSnapshotRefreshBackgroundTask). It's up to the developer to respond to this wake event and update the display accordingly. The developer can request an arbitrary refresh time, but watchOS doesn't necessarily honor it depending on resource usage and other factors. With the watchOS app that I'm working on, I'm requesting a refresh period of 10 minutes, but am seeing closer to 15-20 minutes in real-world usage.

    If you're interested in the more esoteric details, I found this to be an excellent reference:
  3. josh1014 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2007
    I noticed that the messages app seems to be the only one that remains up to date at all times. The other apps seem to possibly be updating to some extent in the background but don't actually update their dock snapshot until you swipe to them in the dock. Even the other first party apps like Activity behave this way. Is this a design choice to save battery life that each developer may be making? Or special permission given by apple solely to the messages app, making it way faster and more usable than other messaging apps.
  4. Marconelly, Sep 23, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016

    Marconelly macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2008
    There are no 3rd party limitations to this feature. I've just updated my Thermo Watch so the most current snapshot is presented right as you open the dock (please note - the version of the app where I've updated this, is not released yet - it has been submitted, and is awaiting Apple's review). It is also possible to perform updates as you swipe onto the app, that requires much less code updates.

    I think for Activity, the animated update as you swipe to it is a design choice, as it gives you an indication of - this is where I was, and this is where I'm now.

Share This Page

3 September 21, 2016