9to5Mac exclusively reported earlier this month that iOS 14 and watchOS 7 will include a new SchoolTime mode and kid mode. The latter feature includes the ability for a parent to set up and manage an Apple Watch for a child with a single iPhone.

Each Apple Watch account is currently connected to a single iPhone’s Apple ID. This new mode will let a parent manage their child’s Apple Watch from the parent’s iPhone, and the child will not be required to own an iPhone to use the Apple Watch.

If this feature in development is completed and released this year, the Apple Watch will become much better for kids than ever before, but how will activity tracking work? Based on iOS 14 code obtained by 9to5Mac, we can now answer that question.

About the rings

Out of the box, Apple Watch is tuned to tracking fitness and health of adults. Some health features like ECG are even age-restricted because they can’t produce accurate data with kids. Apple, of course, is being thoughtful about how activity tracking will work for younger users.

When an Apple Watch is configured in this new kids mode, Apple will treat the Activity rings differently for the first time. Activity rings currently consist of three metrics:

  • Red for number of calories burned from intense movement like a brisk walk or running
  • Green for number of minutes of exercise today
  • Blue for number of different hours with stand or wheelchair movement

Technically speaking, the red move ring is showing you the number of active calories burned in a day versus the greater number of total calories. This whole system can go haywire for kids or encourage the wrong type of movement so a new system is necessary.

Junior experience

Apple Watch will instead replace the active calories metric for the move ring with a move time. For example, Apple Watch can track a goal of 90 minutes of movement throughout the day instead of 500 active calories burned.

Spending too much time on the couch or playing video games? This child-oriented version of the move ring will be great for encouraging kids to be more active. The feature will also better reward kids for activities like playing outside or participating in sports than the standard move ring.

The new feature will likely be available later this year with a software update on newer Apple Watches. Learn more about the new SchoolTime and kids mode from our reporting here.

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created SpaceExplored.com.