Apple revealed the next version of its Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 7, during its Worldwide Developer Conference in June and it's loading the software with big changes.
Here's everything you need to know about the features coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 7, as well as when it will be available.
Apple watchOS 7 release date
- Official release later in the year
- Public beta going live in July 2020
The watchOS 7 developer beta is already live for developers to test. Apple said the first watchOS 7 public beta will launch in July.
In terms of an official release date for everyday consumers, Apple will likely be ready to deploy watchOS 7 sometime around autumn 2020 - when the Watch Series 6 is also due - as we can't imagine the company launching the next Apple Watch without any new software features.
Apple watchOS 7 new features
Here are some of the most interesting features Apple announced were coming to watchOS 7.
With watchOS 7, developers will be able to offer more customisable complications for their apps, as well as more than one complication per app. For example, Glow Baby could offer complications including bottle-feeding, breastfeeding, pumping statistics and nap times, allowing parents to select the complication that best suits what they need. Meanwhile Dawn Patrol could offer complications for tide, wind speed and water temperature, allowing surfers to select what they want.
Users will also be able to share their uniquely configured watch faces in watchOS 7. So, if a friend has a watch face layout you want, they can share it with you via a URL or message. One new watch face Apple previewed at WWDC 2020 is the Chronograph Pro, which includes a tachymeter to calculate speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance.
Apple Maps can now give turn-by-turn directions for cyclists. It works best on cycling paths and can warn riders about steep inclines or stairs. You can also select an option to avoid stairs altogether. It will only be available in select cities at launch - New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Shanghai and Beijing in China, but Apple said it will come to more cities in the future.
When using the cycling direction mode, Maps will direct you when to dismount and walk the bike or take the stairs to save time.
The Activity app has been rebranded as new Fitness app in watchOS 7 and new workout tracking has been added. The software update will bring Dance tracking, including Bollywood, Cardio dance, Hip-hop and Latin dance, as well as workout tracking for core training, functional strength training, and cool downs.
WatchOS 7 adds the ability to track your sleeping habits - to make sure you go to sleep and wake up on time. Sleep tracking will use the detection of micro-movements from the Apple Watch's accelerometer to capture when you are sleeping and how much sleep you are getting. You'll see a visualtion of your previous night's sleep when you wake up in the morning and there will also be a chart available in the new software showing your weekly sleep trend.
Also, to help users wake up, Apple Watch offers silent haptic alarm or gentle sounds, while the wake-up screen will show the battery. If the battery is too low close to bedtime, Apple said Apple Watch will remind you to charge it.
Wind Down mode
A new Wind Down mode is also coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 7, working with your iPhone to help you wind down for bed - as the name suggests. You can do things like snooze notifications, open meditation apps, or turn on a music playlist. You can even activate smart home presets.
WatchOS 7 will give you access to many of the new Siri updates that are coming with iOS 14. The new on-device dictation should improve voice-to-text messaging and results to search queries. You can use the new translation features to hold conversations in other languages directly from your wrist and the Apple Watch will also support Announce Messages with Siri when watchOS 7 arrives.
Your Apple Watch will soon be able to tell - automatically - when you begin washing your hands, simply by the motion of your hands and the sound of water running. Once the watch detects you're washing your hands, it will start a countdown to make sure you wash your hands for as long as recommended by health officials - 20 seconds.
If you stop washing your hands before the 20 seconds is up, you'll be prompted to keep going and you'll be reminded to wash your hands when you return home too. Your hand washing habits will them be stored in the Health app.
The WHO recommends that humans only listen to sounds above 80 decibels for 40 hours a week, which, coincidentally, is easy to do if you're an avid headphone user. With watchOS 7, your Apple Watch will let you know once you've reached that limit in a given week, and it'll give you options to protect your hearing.
Want to know more?
Check out our round-up of all the WWDC 2020 announcements.