It’s the week of WWDC and Apple’s keynote today touched on many aspects of their ecosystem. This post will focus on what’s new for Apple Watch wearers with the unveiling of WatchOS 7.
Watch OS 6 brought the App Store to the Apple Watch and now boasts over 20,000 apps with quick glance access to the most important information on your watch.
The biggest features of iOS and iPadOS have to be some of the customization options announced and Watch OS hasn’t been left alone. The main one that I’ve been waiting for has to be custom and sharable watch faces. This is something that has long been available on other smartwatch platforms and allows you to truly personalize your device.
Check out the video below for a look at what’s new in Apple WatchOS 7.
Think of complications as widgets for your watchface. They allow you to pull data from various app sources and display them around the watchface. Until now, developers were generally limited to one app complication per watchface. With Watch OS 7 and the new ClockKit APIs, they can now build multiple complications for the same app into your watchface, like the example from Nike shown above. This allows you to have distinct watchfaces for specific tasks or activities. Want a purely fitness themed face for your workouts but a different one for the office? Now you can.
Once you’ve created a custom watch face, you can now finally share it with a friend, social media, etc. using the familiar share icon. This will make it easier to discover interesting new combinations of features and complications as well as saving you the trouble of having to manually replicate someone else’s layout yourself. There will be curated faces on the App Store as well as being able to download them directly from a website.
When you install one of these shared watchfaces, if it uses an app for complications and you don’t already have that app, you’ll be able to download it directly from the WatchOS installer.
Sharing your own watch faces is easy too. Simply long press on the watch face on your watch, tap the share icon, pick a contact and it will send it.
The updated Apple Maps on iOS also brings some new tricks to Watch OS. Cycling directions are now available in the app, although initially only for a handful of cities around the world, with more added over time. The new features include let you know how long your route will take, the distance covered, if there are bike lanes and even preview elevation changes. The navigation will even show you when you can dismount and take stairs to save time on your route.
The Workout app already was able to detect many types of exercise and with Watch OS 7, it can now detect dancing as a type of movement. It can even detect many of the popular styles of dance for fitness. It does this by tracking movements in various ways (upper body, lower body, or all at once) using onboard sensors in the watch. Adding in heart rate data gives the watch a more accurate calorie burn rate calculation.
The Activity App is getting a new name, Fitness to better track and summarize all your daily goals and activities.
One of the most requested features has been sleep tracking. Apple has added a number of items to facilitate this starting with Wind Down mode. This allows you to work backwards from your desired sleep time by helping eliminate distractions that can affect your sleep routine in the first place. Wind Down will turn on Do Not Disturb ahead of your sleep time and give you option to use shortcuts to do other things that will help wind things down, like play a relaxing bedtime playlist, adjust/dim the lights and more. At the same time, your watch will go into sleep mode. The screen will remain off, while a tap will show a simplified watchface with the time and your next alarm if it’s set.
When it is time to wake up, you can choose from some new alarm sounds as well as a taptic only alarm so that you won’t wake up your partner. Once that alarm is dismissed, another simplified watch face with the time, battery meter and weather will ease you into your normal routine.
The Sleep tracking uses machine learning to track your movements, including what Apple calls ‘micromovements’ caused by breathing during sleep. The Health App will show your Sleep patterns over time and the amount of sleep you achieved each night.
One final addition that was announced is a mode that detects and tracks when and how long you wash your hands. It detects hand movements and uses audio to detect the sounds of water and soap ‘squishing’ as you wash and shows a timer of how long you’ve been at it.
As you might imagine, the internet is having a field day with this one.
Unlike previous Watch OS releases, Apple is finally offering public betas that will allow anyone to try out the new version ahead of the full release, currently set for this fall. They will have information on their website in early July on how to get the public beta and we’ll be sure to link it once it’s available.
We’ve installed the betas and will be sharing our experiences after we’ve taken everything for a spin.
What do you think about Apple WatchOS 7? Will you be installing the Beata? Let us know in the comments below!