Apple’s WatchOS 7

Apple previewed its watchOS 7, delivering enhanced customization tools and powerful new health and fitness features to the world’s most advanced smartwatch. Personalization is taken to an entirely new level with shareable and discoverable watch face configurations, while sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, additional workout types including dance, and a new hearing health feature give greater insight into overall well-being and are designed with privacy in mind.

Conveniently on the wrist, Maps is updated with cycling directions and Siri now offers language translation.“We’re energised by the positive impact Apple Watch is having on our customers and are excited to deliver meaningful new tools that support their health, fitness, and wellness,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “watchOS 7 brings sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and new workout types together with a whole new way to discover and use watch faces, helping our users stay healthy, active, and connected.”

Watch Faces and Sharing

Faces are central to the watch experience, providing customers with valuable information at a glance and the ability to personalise their Apple Watch. 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. Infinitely customisable and personalised 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.

A watch face customized for surfing is shared on iPhone 11 Pro and displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.
The App Store displayed on iPhone 11 Pro and displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.

watchOS 7 offers updates to faces for more personalisation and greater access to favourite apps. The beautifully detailed and ultraprecise Chronograph Pro includes a tachymeter to calculate speed based on time travelled over a fixed distance, the Photos face offers filters, and the bold X-Large face now has an option to add a rich complication.

The Chronograph Pro watch face displayed on Apple Watch 5.
The X-Large watch face displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.

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 favourite surf spot.

The Dawn Patrol app displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.

Sleep

With watchOS 7, Apple Watch introduces sleep tracking, taking a holistic approach to sleep by providing valuable 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. In the morning, the wearer will see a visualisation of their previous night’s sleep, including periods of wake and sleep. They will also see a chart showing their weekly sleep trend.

Sleep tracking displayed on iPhone 11 Pro and Apple Watch Series 5.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a bedtime routine helps the body prepare for sleep. To support this, Wind Down allows Apple Watch and iPhone users to create a customized routine before bed, including setting up a specific scene in the Home app, listening to a soothing soundscape, or using a favourite meditation app. In Sleep Mode, Apple Watch turns on Do Not Disturb and automatically darkens the screen overnight.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 behaviour, 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.

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A wake-up alarm displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.
A dimmed screen displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.
The wake-up screen displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.

Automatic Handwashing Detection

Washing hands properly for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of illness. In a first-of-its-kind innovation for a wearable, Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing 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.

A GIF of the handwashing timer displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.

Workout Types and Fitness App

The Workout app is one of the most popular apps on Apple Watch, and watchOS 7 brings four exciting new workout types supported by powerful heart rate and custom-built motion algorithms: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cooldown.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. This workout type was validated and tested with four of the most popular dance styles for exercise: Bollywood, cardio dance, hip-hop, and Latin.

Apple Watch now offers custom-built algorithms to track Dance, Functional Strength Training, Core Training, and Cooldown.The redesigned Activity app on iPhone, now called Fitnessprovidesa streamlined view of data including daily Activity, Workouts, Awards, and Activity Trends on one tab, and Activity Sharing and Activity Competitions on another.

Hearing

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 percent of the safe weekly listening amount, Apple Watch provides a notification to the wearer. This amount is based on World Health Organization recommendations that, for instance, a person can be exposed to 80 decibels for about 40 hours per week without an impact to hearing abilities.Customers can also see how long they have been exposed to high decibel levels each week in the Health app on iPhone and can control the maximum level for headphone volume. No audio from the headphone audio notification feature is recorded or saved by the Health app or Apple Watch.

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Volume alert displayed on iPhone 11 Pro and Apple Watch Series 5.

Additional watchOS 7 Updates

  • For optimal convenience while biking, cycling directions are available right on the wrist. Directions are large and easy to read, and 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 conveniently 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 RemoteSleep, 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.
A Siri translation of goodbye from English to German displayed on Apple Watch Series 5.

Privacy

Privacy is fundamental to Apple and particularly important when it comes to health data, so all health features are designed with privacy in mind. Health data is encrypted on device or in iCloud with iCloud sync, and data is always in the user’s control.

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