The Apple Watch’s WatchOS is about to get even more helpful than it already is. Apple showed off the latest and greatest version of the operating system that powers the Apple Watch 5 (and most of its cousins) at the annual and first-ever-digital Worldwide Developer Conference — bringing more fitness and health tracking, watch face features, and so on.
The new version of WatchOS, called WatchOS 7, won’t be available to the public until it’s released alongside a new Apple Watch model in the fall, but at least we have an idea of what to expect when the new software does launch. Here’s everything you need to know about WatchOS 7.
Apple has long been rumored to be bringing sleep tracking features to the Apple Watch, and in WatchOS 7, it’s finally releasing them to the public. The new sleep-tracking feature can track the quality of a user’s sleep, including metrics like heart rate, ambient noise in the room, and the user’s overall movement.
The way it works is pretty simple. Users will be able to set a bedtime and wake-up time, and based on that schedule, the Apple Watch can help users get to sleep. That’s through a feature called “Wind Down,” which is aimed at minimizing distractions in the lead-up to bedtime. For example, the feature will switch your iPhone to Do Not Disturb, and will change the lock screen to a less distracting interface. When it’s time for bed, the Apple Watch will automatically start tracking sleep.
Sleep data tracked through the Apple Watch integrates directly with the Apple Health app, and through that app, you’ll be able to see a rundown of how much sleep you’re getting and tips to get better sleep. When you wake up, you’ll also get a summary of your night’s sleep on your Apple Watch, along with a battery indicator to remind you to charge your device.
Apple usually launches new watch faces alongside new versions of WatchOS, but instead of doing that this year, it’s making it easier to customize your own watch faces. There’s a new interface for watch face customization, and there are new complications. In fact, developers can now enable multiple complications on a single watch face, which means that you could create an entire watch face with only complications from one app.
Apple wants to make it easier to share watch faces too. Users can quickly and easily share their configured watch faces, including complications. Not only that, but companies can promote watch faces through their website or app. It’s important to note that these aren’t third-party watch faces — they’re simply configured Apple watch faces that include certain complications. If a user gets a watch face shared with them and they don’t have the right apps to support the complications in the watch, they’ll be prompted to download those apps.
New workouts and Fitness app
The Apple Watch is often used to track health and fitness, and Apple is adding a few new fitness-tracking features too. For example, there are a few new workouts to take advantage of, including a new Dance workout, a new Cooldowns workout, and so on. On the iPhone side, tracking your workouts will take place in the new Fitness app, which replaces the Activity app, and offers a new interface that prioritizes easy navigation.
Hand Washing tracking
Properly washing your hands is more important than ever right now, and the Apple Watch will now help you properly wash your hands. The Apple Watch will be able to use machine learning to detect hand-washing motions, combined with the sounds of running water. Once it detects that you’re washing your hands, it will start counting down — and if you stop washing your hands early, it will remind you to keep washing.
Apple is introducing cycling directions in Apple Maps as part of iOS 14, and as part of that, it’s bringing cycling directions to the Apple Watch too. Notably, cycling directions are aimed at being large and easy to read, plus Maps will tell riders when to dismount and walk the bike, or when stairs might be available to save time. Riders can also choose a route in advance, and that decision can be based on not wanting to ride up steep hills, the time it takes to get somewhere, and so on.