Apple today released watchOS 7, the new version of its Apple Watch operating system. The new wearable operating system features watch face sharing, automatic handwashing detection, sleep monitoring, and more.
watchOS 7 is compatible with Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, or Apple Watch Series 5 paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14 or later.
watchOS 7 can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to “General” -> “Software Update.” The Apple Watch needs to have at least 50% battery charge, needs to be on a charger, and needs to be in range of the iPhone.
As announced yesterday, watchOS 7 offers a new Family Setup option that allows iPhone owners to manage and set up Apple Watches for children or older family members who don’t own iPhones. Parents control contacts and downloaded apps. Also available is a Schooltime mode to limit Apple Watch features when necessary. Location tracking with Find My is also available.
Kids can call and text their parents, talk to Siri, stream music, download apps, use the new Memoji app to create Memoji, and use Apple Pay with funds provided by parents. Also included is Activity tracking options that provide Move minutes instead of active calories burned. Activity tracking is optimized for children.
Watch Faces and Sharing
watchOS 7 offers users the ability to discover and share unique combinations to completely configure their watch face to suit any activity or lifestyle. Customized and personalized faces, including their complications, can be shared through Messages or Mail, and discovered through the App Store or via links through websites and social media channels.
Updated watch faces offer better personalization and improved access to favorite apps. 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 will be able to offer more than one complication per app on a single watch face. Apple offered an example with the Glow Baby app, which can display multiple complications that help new parents track bottle-feeding, breastfeeding, pumping statistics, and nap times.
watchOS 7 enables sleep tracking on the Apple Watch, 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. Users will be able to see a visualization of their previous night’s sleep patterns.
A Wind Down feature 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 favorite meditation app.
Sleep mode enables Do Not Disturb and automatically darkens the Apple Watch screen overnight. A tap on the screen shows a low-light time display.
The Apple Watch will offer a silent haptic alarm or gentle sounds to wake users up while the wake-up screen displays the remaining battery level. If a battery doesn’t have enough power for overnight usage, the Apple Watch will remind the user to charge it before going to bed.
Automatic Handwashing Detection
Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, mic, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds. It then displays a 20-second countdown timer, warning you if you finish early. It can also remind a user to wash their hands when they return home.
The Health app will include information about the frequency and duration of the user’s handwashing, as well as information on the importance of handwashing, as it relates to overall health.
Workout Types and Fitness App
The workout app adds four new workout types: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cooldown.
The redesigned Activity app on iPhone is now called Fitness, and offers a view of data including daily Activity, Workouts, Awards, and Activity Trends on one tab, and Activity Sharing and Activity Competitions on another.
watchOS 7 Hearing app 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.
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 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.