Apple Watch got quite a bit of love at WWDC this year with the WatchOS 7 update coming later this year. Most of it is focused on health but also addressing long standing complaints and desires by the community. These mainly boil down to Health and Watch Faces
New Watch Faces: Apple is adding two new Watch Faces. One is the X-Large face, which give you the time at the top of the screen and 1 large view of a single Complication on screen. Definitely helpful for those who don’t want all the world’s info on their Watch or who need a little help with their eyesight.
The other one the the tachymeter, which is really a complication for the Chronograph watch face, but seems to be a premade option as well. The tachymeter will help with measuring speed while using the Watch. It’s kind of neat that Apple went one way with a more simple and a more complex watch face. Something for each direction
Face sharing: Speaking of Watch Faces, you can share watch faces with friends via iMessage or email. That way if someone really likes the design you’ve done on yours, they don’t have to try and rebuild it from scratch or a screenshot. Not only that, you can share it with your friends online. You’ll be able to post a link on your blog or site and have the watch face downloadable to anyone who stops by. Visitors will see an “Add Apple Watch Face” on their phone, and then it will be added as an option in their Watch app. Seems like a push to influencers and content hosts to help make the Watch a bit more social. According to Apple, if the user doesn’t have a particular app for that Watch face, they’ll be prompted to install the apps with it. Apple will also host Watch Faces from their editorial team in the App Store, similar to the way they do now in the Watch App for iPhone.
Complications: Apple Watch developers now have the ability to make multiple complications not just for size, but for function. That means that now your favorite weather app can have 1 complication for temperature and another for humidity, etc. all of which you can put on the same watch face too. This is really good to get the most of your watch face or if you want to have a watch face dedicated to a single function, like the surfing one that Apple had in its presentation
Health and Fitness
Workouts: Apple has added 4 new workouts. The biggest one they highlighted was the new Dance workout which covers dances as varied as Bollywood, Hip Hop, Latin, or Cardio dancing, among others. They say the exercise option will heart rate data as well as the gyroscope in the watch, among other factors, to detect whether the dancing you’re doing is a full body, lower body, or upper body dancing. They’ve also added a Functional Strength Training and Cooldown exercises to the Workouts app, as well as improved the Core Training Workout option.
It’s also worth noting that the “Activity” app is now being renamed the “Fitness” app, though functionality and appearance will remain relatively unchanged.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise: Apple Watch is getting improved sleep tracking and waking up assistance with the next update, in conjunction with iOS 14. You can set improved goals for when you want to get to sleep and when you want to wake up. When you set a time when you want to be in bed, Apple Watch and your iPhone can start going into “Wind Down” mode. With this the phone and watch will go into Do Not Disturb mode with a message saying the phone is going into this wind down mode. It will also offer shortcuts like relaxing music, your choice of meditation app, or various other methods to help you fall asleep etc. After that the Watch itself will also change the watch face shown to be a dark gray color showing the time in big numbers, the date, and when your alarm is set to go off, making it less impactful on your eyes.
The Watch and phone now have built in sleep tracking with the new Sleep app, meaning that it can will use the motion sensor to detect your motion and breathing to determine if if you’re awake or sleep. It doesn’t say or show if it’ll show whether you’re getting a good REM sleep, though it can detect restlessness in your sleep according to Apple, so this may be something to come down the line.
But it’s not just at the night where the Apple Watch will start to shine anew (or less since it’s trying to get you to fall asleep. You know what I mean). When you get up in the morning, the watch will display a Greeting watch face to show you the time, weather, and and battery level if you need to charge. In fact, the Watch will notify if the Watch battery is below 30% before bed so you can charge it before using it for sleep tracking, and if you charge it in the morning it will ping your iPhone when it gets to 100% A lot of this seems like an improvement of the Bedtime and Good morning features the iPhone got in iOS 13, which I’ve personally really enjoyed, so these all sound like solid changes.
Handwashing: Just in time for quarantine and discussion about how to safely reopen, Apple introduces a handwashing counter to the Apple Watch. According to them the Watch will have automatic handwashing detection based of position, motion and sound detection with the microphone to detect the sounds of water and soap. It can then start a 20 second count down with a soapy counter displayed on screen as well as haptic buzzes and sounds to help you count down to clean hands, while also detect pauses in your washing an pausing the timer until it detects you can continue. This will be cool to see in action if it works, though it certainly sounds like there are a lot of moving parts to this working.
Hearing Health: Apple is refining the Noise app it introduced in Watch OS 6. Now you’ll have a view in the Fitness app showing you the volume usage of your headphones and if your headphones were playing at dangerous volumes based on WHO recommendations. With this, you can have it automatically adjust your volume down to lower levels if you want based on your weekly listening habits. On top of this, you can even set max headphone volume levels to make sure you don’t accidentally damage your hearing.
Maps: The Cycling directions coming to Apple Maps are also coming to the Watch. You’ll be notified of incoming things like traffic and stairs, and can have certain things added to your route like food and drink stops or bike repair shops, among other things.
Siri: Last but not least, Siri on the Watch is also getting some new improvements. Like on iOS, any dictation done is now fully done on Apple Watch according to Apple, with none of it needing to be sent to the web for processing. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it is in conjunction with the iPhone you’re using, but we’ll just need to wait and see.
Siri for the Watch is also getting 10 languages for translation including between English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic and more.
Lastly, Siri Shortcuts will be more accessible on the Watch. While you could do voice activated ones, non-voice extensions weren’t really accessible on the Watch. Now there will be a dedicated Shortcuts app so that you can access those on your Watch. You’ll even be able to set some as complications on your Watch, making these functions so much more usable.
So that pretty much covers the Apple Watch. Are you excited about what’s to come? What’s your favorite feature. Let us know on Social media and in the comments below.
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