Apple’s new watchOS is coming this year with new health tracking features

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Apple

Vice President of Technology at Apple, Kevin Lynch, took to the WWDC 2020 livestream today to lay out the company’s plans for watchOS, the latest version of the software for the Apple Watch.

The new update—expected to launch later this year—adds new fitness features, watch faces, guidance for hand-washing, and the long-awaited sleep tracking feature, among other things.

In the newly named Fitness app (previously called Workouts), Fitness features have been updated to more comprehensively track different areas of your body’s workout, zeroing in on core training, functional strength training, and cooling down.

For instance, dancing is now tracked by the Apple Watch, using data from the accelerometer and gyroscope to detect the difference between what your arms, legs, and rest of your body are doing.

As in iOS 14, Cycling has been added and features turn-by-turn directions through Apple Maps, which include elevation and distance previews. It also suggests when to dismount your bike and walk or take the stairs.

Sleep tracking includes new options like “Wind Down,” which will enable shortcuts and routines like opening apps and turning on Do Not Disturb before bedtime. All of this will be accessible through the iOS app, as well.

Details on the sleep-tracking method itself are scarce, but Apple says it will track breathing and movement in “Sleep Mode.”

Apple Watch will soon detect and guide hand-washing.
Enlarge / Apple Watch will soon detect and guide hand-washing.

Apple

Hand-washing is a big part of all our lives, and it’s now a small part of WatchOS. The new feature can automatically detect hand-washing from your hand’s movements combined with the sound of running water and “squishing soap.” A visual countdown makes sure you’re spending enough time while haptics guide you along the way, chirping or vibrating to nudge you along if you wash for less than the prescribed amount of time.

Watch faces have become more customizable with fuller app integrations called “Rich Complications.” This enables app developers to breakout different features of their app to multiple complications in a single watch face. Watch faces can also be acquired with a click inside the app or website, and self-made complications can be shared easily between Apple Watch users.

Finally, another new iOS feature, Siri Translation, will also be available on your wrist.

This story is developing. Check back or follow our liveblog for more details as they are announced.



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