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watchOS 7 adds new workout types, sleep tracking, and handwashing detection

You can now share your watch faces with other Apple Watch users, too.

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Apple watchOS 7 Features

Apple previewed watchOS 7 alongside iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 at WWDC this week. The software update includes new watch faces, workout types, and sleep tracking among other improvements.

watchOS 7 lets you discover new watch faces through the App Store or even from links through websites and social media channels. The customizable and personalized faces can now be shared with other Apple Watch users as well.

There are new watch faces as well. The Chronograph Pro watch face includes a tachymeter, the Photos face offers color filters, and the bold XL face now adds a rich complication. Apple says developers can now add more than one complication per app on a single watch face.

With watchOS 7, there’s a built-in sleep tracking available that’s integrated with iPhone. From periods of wake and sleep to showing sleep trends, all your sleep data is encrypted and stored on device or in iCloud.

The Workout app on Apple Watch now has four new workout types supported: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cooldown. All these new additions make use of powerful heart rate and custom-built motion algorithms.

The Activity app on iPhone is redesigned and has been renamed to Fitness. It now displays a streamlined view of data including Activity, Workouts and Awards. There’s also further support for hearing health with headphone audio notifications.

As we’re living in a year that’s hit by COVID-19 pandemic, frequent handwashing isn’t really new for us. To prevent the spread of illness, washing hands properly for at least 20 seconds is highly recommended. The watchOS 7 brings automatic handwashing detection in Apple Watch using motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning. Apple says it’s a first-of-its-kind innovation for a wearable.

Apple outlines additional watchOS 7 features:

  • 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 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 preview of watchOS 7 is now available to registered Apple developers. And for the first time ever, watchOS will have a public beta arriving next month. Compatible Apple Watch models will be receiving watchOS 7 software update this fall. The list includes Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, and Apple Watch Series 5 paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14 or later.

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