Technophile

More features for the Apple Watch coming with watchOS 7

Mala Bhargava | Updated on June 25, 2020 Published on June 25, 2020

It’s rather nice when something you bought and have already been using gets a host of new features. It almost feels like a new product.

The Apple Watch, after Series 3, will be getting a refresh with the coming of watchOS 7 and be able to do a few things it couldn’t do before. This bit of news came out of Apple’s WWDC event and is already available to developers so they can build on these new features. This will be followed by a public beta next month and finally released to customers sometime in the autumn.

The Apple Watch is already the most popular digital watch in the world, outdoing Swiss watches these days. WatchOS 7 could easily make it more so.

Sleep tight

Users have long wanted the Apple Watch to track sleep and to do so natively, not necessarily using a third party app. This capability now comes to the watch — so get used to sleeping with the watch on, not exactly easy for everyone. The whole idea is to make sure the user gets a good night’s restful sleep, so there will be a wind down mode in which distractions will be minimised within a routine that builds up towards sleeping.

The watch will need to work with the iPhone for this, so that too must be updated to iOS 14. Once done, measurement buffs can see a graph of their sleep activity because the watch will use its accelerometer and heart rate monitor to detect micro movements to assess proper trouble-free sleep. This is in addition to the overall number of hours being repacked, of course. Customised alarms and morning routines will ease the user to wakefulness.

Of course, since most users charge their watches at night to be able to use them through the day without interruption, this is one habit that will have to change. Instead, charging will have to be done first thing in the morning. Since battery life isn’t the Apple Watch’s best features, those who use it a lot could even find they need to top it up sometime during the evening.

Mobility metrics

A feature about which not much is known yet is the use of the Watch’s and the iPhone’s motion sensors to gauge changes in mobility as one ages. Actions like shuffling your feet, losing balance, way of walking, stair climbing speed etc will yield up data for use by doctors and other healthcare professionals who may then assess whether any help is needed. But these are metrics that will be used over the long term not something you need to look at each day like the activity level for workouts.

 

Dance for fitness

A much requested feature will be more accurate tracking of dance as a fitness routine. One could always add Dance to workouts on the watch, but dance happens to be so variable that it has been difficult to track all types or give fitness credit for movements that are not necessarily coordinated the same way as repetitive workout movements. In dance, you could be creating wide arm patterns without necessarily doing a lot of footwork.

Now, the watch’s gyroscope and accelerometer will monitor different moves and give calorie credit for them, bringing dance into a properly measurable form of fitness. Not every type of dance form is included but the ones that people typically use for fitness are, including hip hop. Latin (read Zumba), cardio dance and Bollywood. New workouts will also be added, including strength training.

 

Hearing health

The Watch already has the Noise app which measures the decibel level around you so you can protect your ears, specially in the long term. If you visit a really noisy restaurant everyday for example and find that the level of noise is harmful when experienced over several hours and that too regularly, you may be prompted to make some change in where you spend your time.

This concept will now be taken a step further to include letting the user know about noise level via headphone audio notifications. Customers can now also 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 per cent of the safe weekly listening amount, Apple Watch provides a notification to the wearer. This amount is based on World Health Organisation 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.

Share a face

The variety of watch faces and the amount of information that can show on them is actually quite unique to the Apple Watch. Users love their watch faces. Now, watchOS 7 will bring new ways to discover and share unique combinations to completely configure the watch face to suit one’s personality and lifestyle. Infinitely customisable and personalised faces, inclusive of complications (which is what the information sources are called on the watch) can be shared with others through Messages or Mail, and discovered through the App Store or even from links through websites and social media channels.

A number of iOS 14 features will now work on the Apple Watch including translate, announcing messages, inline replies in messages, car key support as keys go digital and more interactions with the watch face and its complications. The earliest users can try these out in a stable and safe manner next month.

And finally, an automatic hand washing app will be included on the watch which will detect from hand movements and sounds that you are washing your hands and set a timer for 20 seconds.

Published on June 25, 2020
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