During Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple previewed watchOS 7 with enhanced customization tools and new health and fitness features for the Apple Watch.
It adds shareable and discoverable watch face configurations, as well as sleep tracking, automatic hand-washing detection, additional workout types including dance, and a new hearing health feature. What’s more, Maps is updated with cycling directions and Siri now offers language translation.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, says watchOS 7 offers new ways to discover and share unique combinations to completely configure the watch face to suit any activity or lifestyle, from the new parent to the surfing aficionado, tennis player, or photographer. Customizable and personalized faces, inclusive of complications, can be shared through Messages or Mail, and discovered through the App Store or even from links through websites and social media channels.
watchOS 7 offers updates to faces for more personalization and greater access to favorite apps. The Chronograph Pro includes a tachymeter to calculate speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance; the Photos face offers color filters, and the bold X-Large face now has an option to add a rich complication.
Developers now have the ability to offer more than one complication per app on a single watch face. For example, on one watch face, Glow Baby can display multiple complications that help new parents track bottle-feeding, breastfeeding, pumping statistics, and nap times, while Dawn Patrol can show surfers tide, wind speed, and water temperature from a favorite surf spot.
With watchOS 7, Apple Watch introduces sleep tracking, taking a holistic approach to sleep by providing tools to help users get the desired amount of sleep, get to bed on time, and create a pre-bedtime routine to meet their sleep goals. Through the detection of micro-movements from the watch’s accelerometer, which signals respiration during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently captures when the wearer is sleeping and how much sleep they get each night, according to Vera Carr, manager, Health Software Engineering. In the morning, the wearer will see a visualization of their previous night’s sleep, including periods of wake and sleep, she adds. They will also see a chart showing their weekly sleep trend.
To help users wake up, Apple Watch offers a silent haptic alarm or gentle sounds, while the wake-up screen shows the current battery level. Depending on personal charging behavior, if the battery is too low within an hour of bedtime, Apple Watch will remind users to charge it ahead of sleep. Sleep data is encrypted on device or in iCloud with iCloud sync, and data is always in the user’s control, Carr says.
Suitable for these pandemic times, with watchOS 7 the Apple Watch will uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect hand-washing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing. Apple Watch can also conveniently remind the user to wash their hands when they return home.
The Health app on iPhone will show frequency and duration of the user’s handwashing, as well as information on the importance of handwashing, as it relates to overall health. Sounds used to detect handwashing are not automatically recorded or saved by the Health app or Apple Watch. Health data is encrypted on device or in iCloud with iCloud sync, and data is always in the user’s control.
watchOS 7 brings four new workout types supported by heart rate and custom-built motion algorithms to the Fitness app: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cool-down.
To correctly capture calorie exertion for Dance, Apple Watch uses advanced sensor fusion, combining data from the heart rate sensor and inputs from the accelerometer and gyroscope, that accounts for the unique challenges of measuring different body-to-arm motions typical with dance, according to Julz Arney, senior manager, Fitness Technologies. This workout type was validated and tested with four of the most popular dance styles for exercise: Bollywood, cardio dance, hip-hop, and Latin, she adds.
The redesigned Activity app on iPhone, now called Fitness, provides a streamlined view of data including daily Activity, Workouts, Awards, and Activity Trends on one tab, and Activity Sharing and Activity Competitions on another.
Following the introduction of the Noise app in watchOS 6 that measures ambient sound levels and duration of exposure, watchOS 7 adds further support for hearing health with headphone audio notifications. Customers can now understand how loudly they are listening to media through their headphones using their iPhone, iPod touch, or Apple Watch, and when these levels may impact hearing over time.
When total listening with headphones has reached 100% of the safe weekly listening amount, Apple Watch provides a notification to the wearer.
Other new features in watchOS 7:
- For optimal convenience while biking, cycling directions are available right on the wrist. Maps can direct when to dismount and walk the bike, or take the stairs to save time. The wearer can choose a route that avoids steep hills, gets to the destination the quickest, or takes the most direct path.
- Customers can now use Siri to translate many languages from the wrist, dictation is handled on device with the power of the Apple Neural Engine for faster and more reliable processing when dictating messages and more, and Apple Watch now supports Announce Messages with Siri. The Shortcuts app is also now available on Apple Watch and can be accessed as a complication.
- Developers can create graphic complications with SwiftUI, and new developer tools such as Xcode Previews make building them even easier.
- New complications for native features include: Camera Remote, Sleep, and Shortcuts.
- New Mobility Metrics available in the Health app include: low-range cardio fitness, walking speed, stair-descent speed, stair-ascent speed, six-minute walk distance, double support time, step length, and asymmetry. These metrics are important for the clinical community to monitor patients’ ability to move safely and easily as they age. Typically only measured in a lab setting, these metrics can be uniquely measured by Apple Watch and iPhone, and used by developers, such as Zimmer Biomet, a musculoskeletal healthcare company, in patient care and in management tools such as mymobility.
The developer beta of watchOS 7 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today. For the first time, a public beta will be available to watchOS users next month at beta.apple.com. watchOS 7 will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, or Apple Watch Series 5 paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14 or later. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages or on all devices. Features are subject to change. For more information, visit apple.com/watchOS/watchOS-preview.