Apple has officially announced watchOS 7, the next big operating system update that’s expected to arrive alongside the Apple Watch 6 later in 2020.
While we won’t see the new operating system for months, Apple revealed watchOS 7 at its WWDC 2020 event to introduce exciting new features that will change how we use our Apple smartwatches.
WatchOS updates have brought new features to older Apple Watches, true, but we’re really excited about what the updates say about the next model. We’d heard rumors of new health tracking (including measuring blood oxygen levels), which turned out TKTK.
Here’s all the new features and perks coming in watchOS 7, along with what it hints at for the Apple Watch 6.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Apple’s next big update for Apple Watch
- When is it out? Likely around September, but with a beta before
- How much will it cost? Nothing
watchOS 7 release date and availability
WatchOS 7 will almost definitely be free, since software updates from Apple (and most other tech companies) generally don’t cost a thing, so if you’ve got a compatible Apple Watch, you won’t have to pay a dime to upgrade.
Per precedent, it’s safe to say that the next annual watchOS update will come in late 2020 – most likely in September. That’s around when the Apple Watch launches tend to be, as well as the year’s new flagship phones such as the iPhone 12.
However the Covid-19 pandemic has reportedly caused other Apple device releases to be pushed back, so we could see watchOS 7 released later than expected – or perhaps even in 2021.
A watchOS 7 developer beta is available starting today, which can be downloaded through Apple’s developer website – and for the first time, a public beta will be available sometime in July on the company’s public beta website (we’ll follow up when the exact date is announced).
watchOS 7 compatibility
Bucking tradition, Apple followed up announcing watchOS 7 by confirming which Apple Watches will be getting the new operating system in a blog post. Along with the new Apple Watch 6, watchOS 7 will come to Apple Watch 5, Apple Watch 4, and Apple Watch 3.
Yes, sadly, that means Apple Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 1 owners are out luck. Original Apple Watch owners got left out, and now we have a new threshold for devices that can upgrade to the latest watchOS.
Confirmed watchOS 7 features
WatchOS 7 has refined its complications, allowing devs to enable multiple complications and watch faces. You can create your own custom selection, like a “surf watch” with beachside conditions, to make your ideal watch face.
WatchOS 7 also makes it easier to share your watch faces via a new feature, Face Sharing. When you see a watch face you like, click the button prompt below it and the face will download – as well as prompt you to download any missing complications.
Maps: cycling options and more
Yes, just like in iOS 14, watchOS 7 will include cycling directions in the Maps app. This includes elevation changes and navigation prompts with large, easy-to-read complications, which are granular enough to tell you about upcoming elevation changes or even stair climbs.
Workouts: dance and cooldowns
Workouts are getting an upgrade, too, adding Dance as a total body workout. Dance will track some of the most popular (and broadly-defined) dance styles, like Hip Hop and Latin.
How? Advanced algorithms detect the difference between moving just arms, just legs, or combinations of the two by cross-referencing with heart rate. That’s not all: there are a few other new workout modes, including core training, functional strength training, and even cooldowns for post-workout sessions. You can track all this in the updated Activity app in iOS 14.
Sleep tracking at last
The Health app has finally added a long-requested Sleep-tracking feature. This includes Wind Down, which allows you to create a personalized routine to get you to sleep. This includes choosing whether to wake up via audio tones or haptic vibration for a quieter and more personal alarm. Tracks sleep via machine learning, and updated sleep section in Health app, also available in iPhone.
Apparently some of you haven’t been washing your hands enough! watchOS 7 will come with automatic handwashing detection, which uses machine learning and audio cues to measure whether you wash your hands for a full 20-second timer, with fun sounds to ensure you’re washing long enough.