We’re less than two weeks away from Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. This year, WWDC will be held completely virtual and online, but we still expect Apple to introduce its next round of major software releases. Read on as we roundup all of the watchOS 7 features that have been leaked so far.
This year, 9to5Mac had access to an early build of iOS 14, through which we were able to access many of the new features coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 7. It’s possible that Apple changes or scraps some of these features before iOS 14 and watchOS 7 are released to the public, but these are the features you should expect as of today.
watchOS 7: New watch faces
As usual, we expect watchOS 7 to include a new collection of watch faces for your Apple Watch. Perhaps most notably, Apple appears to be planning a new Infograph Pro watch face with a built-in tachymeter.
watchOS 6 was first to introduce the Infograph watch face principle, bringing the Infograph and Infograph Modular faces. This year, the watch face collection will expand with a new Infograph Pro option for users.
What exactly is a tachymeter? It’s essentially an analog watch scale located around the dial, and commonly used to measure speed and distance based on travel time. This continues Apple’s trend of bringing analog watch characteristics to the digital Apple Watch.
To use a tachymeter-equipped watch for measuring speed, the chronograph is started at a starting marker of a known distance. At the next marker, the point on the scale adjacent to the second hand indicates the speed (in distance between markers per hour) of travel between the two. The typical tachymeter scale on a watch converts between the number of seconds it takes for an event to happen and the number of times that event will occur in one hour
In addition to the new Infograph Pro watch face, watchOS 7 will also include new options for creating personalized watch faces using images from the Photos app on iPhone or Apple Watch. Apple Watch lets users create personalized digital watch faces using images from the Photos app on the iPhone or Apple Watch. Photo watch faces currently support two sources: Individual photos and Groups of photos from albums.
watchOS 7 will add support for shared albums as well. For example, someone could use their shared family album as a watch face that includes photos added by other family members. You could also create a shared album for managing photos on a parent or grandparent’s watch face.
Rounding out the new watch faces coming with watchOS 7, the update is expected to include a new digital watch face called International. As the name suggests, this face will show flags from different countries. The flag designs will take up the entire watch face, similar to photo watch faces.
Plus, watchOS 7 is likely to include a new feature that allows users to share specific watch face configurations with others. This will be done through the usual share sheet from the Apple Watch companion app on iOS. This means that if you have a highly customized watch face, you’ll be able to easily share it with other users through iOS 14 and watchOS 7.
watchOS 7 and iOS 14 are also expected to include new Kids Mode features designed to make it easier for parents to manage Apple Watches used by children.
The tentpole of Kids Mode will be the ability to set up and manage Apple Watches for kids using a parent’s iPhone. Currently, a single iPhone can activate and pair with multiple Apple Watches but only one watch can be used at a time and each watch is tied to the same iCloud account as the iPhone.
Under this model in iOS 14 and watchOS 7, a parent could activate and manage an Apple Watch for their child as well as their own using a single iPhone. This would allow a kid to have an Apple Watch for communication and location tracking purposes without having their own iPhone.
There will also be a new feature called SchoolTime, which will allow parents to manage which applications kids can use during certain hours of the day.
Finally, Kids Mode will make some changes to the Activity rings. Currently, the Apple Watch Activity rings 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
But when an Apple Watch is used in Kids Mode, Apple will remove the focus on calories and instead make the move ring focused on move time instead of calories. For example, Apple Watch can track a goal of 90 minutes of movement throughout the day instead of 500 active calories burned.
Blood Oxygen detection
There are also at least two new health features coming with watchOS 7 this year, though it’s unclear if these two features might also require new Apple Watch hardware, which we don’t expect to be released until this fall.
First off, Apple is developing a new Apple Watch feature for detecting blood oxygen levels for the first time. Blood oxygen levels between 95 and 100% are considered healthy; blood oxygen levels below 80% may lead to compromised heart and brain functionality. Risk of respiratory or cardiac arrest is common after continued low blood oxygen saturation.
Using Apple Watch, you will be able to monitor your blood oxygen level as well as receive a push notification if the vital measurement falls below a certain level. Essentially, blood oxygen detection is expected to work much like the ECG and Irregular heart rhythm features; you can check your levels on demand, or rely on passive monitoring combined with push notifications.
Finally, code suggests that Apple is working to remove the current limitations of the electrocardiogram capabilities of Apple Watch. Currently, ECG readings on Apple Watch can result in an inconclusive reading if your heart rate is between 100 and 120 beats per minute, but Apple is working on an upgraded ECG app to remove that limitation.
Bloomberg has also said that watchOS 7 will add new fitness features, though specifics here are somewhat unclear.
Again, what’s key to remember here is that we don’t know if these new health features will require new Apple Watch hardware or if they could be enabled via software. History tells us that these features are likely to be hardware-tied, and if that’s the case, we don’t expect Apple to even announce them until this fall — not at WWDC.
watchOS 7: Sleep tracking
Could this finally be the year that Apple Watch adds native sleep tracking capabilities? All evidence so far points to yes. While evidence of Apple Watch sleep tracking has been in watchOS for several years, reports have indicated that Apple will officially launch the feature this year.
The first-party Sleep app on Apple Watch leaked in a screenshot last October, and 9to5Mac has exclusively reported many of the features of the Sleep app. For example, the Apple Watch will track a user’s quality of sleep using a variety of different sensors and metrics, including heart rate, noises, and movement.
Furthermore, your alarms will fully integrate with Apple Watch sleep tracking. For instance, if you wake up and start moving around before your alarm, the alarm will automatically be turned off. “Sleep mode” is expected to do things like dim the display and enable Do Not Disturb.
Finally, the Sleep app will also help users remember to charge their Apple Watch before bed. There will be a feature that reminds users to charge their Watch beforehand so they can get through the night.
Much like with other health features, it’s unclear whether Apple Watch sleep tracking will be compatible with existing Apple Watch hardware, or if it will be limited to the Apple Watch Series 6.
One of the major new features in iOS 14 is expected to be CarKey, which will allow users to unlock and control their car using iPhone and Apple Watch. 9to5Mac expects CarKey to work for locking, unlocking, and starting cars using the iPhone in place of a physical car key or key fob.
CarKey is expected to integrate with watchOS 7 so that users can unlock and control their car from their wrist as well. The exact features here, and whether or not new hardware will be needed, is unclear.
watchOS 7 features wrap-up
Apple has quite a few new features planned for this year’s update to watchOS 7 and Apple Watch, and there are likely additional features in store that have not yet leaked. As usual, it seems like Apple will focus primarily on health and fitness features, as well as new watch faces this year.
WWDC 2020 will officially kick-off on June 22 with Apple’s Special Event Keynote. During the keynote, we expect the introduction of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, tvOS 14, and macOS 10.16. You can view the full WWDC 2020 schedule here.
What are you most excited to see in watchOS 7? Are there any features on your wish list? Let us know down in the comments! Curious about iOS 14? Be sure to check out our full roundup of what to expect here.
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