Apple has today released watchOS 4, describing it as:
A smarter coach and workout partner. Better in tune with your taste in music. And an even more proactive all-day assistant. With watchOS 4, Apple Watch is dialed in to you like never before.
Below are some of the highlights of what watchOS 4 will bring to your wrist.
The New Features That We Think You Will Like
Siri Gets its Own Watch Face
watchOS 4 brings a new watch face with Siri built-in.
The Siri watch face uses Apple's Machine Learning technology to intelligently and dynamically predict the information that's most relevant to you, based on the apps you use, when you use them, and your daily routine.
Information can be pulled from a number of sources, including calendar events and reminders as well as data from apps like Breathe, Maps, Wallet, Activity, Apple News, Weather and Alarms. Double-tapping on any item in the data stream will show more information or open the related app. You can customize data sources through the Watch app on your iPhone, allowing you to exclude those which don't interest you.
The Siri watch face supports two complications, one of which can be a new complication that triggers Siri's voice interface when double-tapped.
Some Other Changes in watchOS 4
- When you force press on the main app Home screen, there is a new option to switch from the standard app grid interface to a simple list of all the apps installed that can be scrolled through by swiping or with the Digital Crown.
- The Apple Watch Dock can now be set to display your recently used apps instead of favorite apps.
- The Mail app on the Apple Watch now allows you to compose new emails (previously you could only reply to existing emails). The compose screen is accessed with a force press on the main Mail view.
- the Mail app now allows you to view your messages by inbox (such as inboxes that you have created, and the VIP, Flagged, and Unread inboxes).
- You will now receive notifications that will let you know how close you are to completing an Activity goal and what you can do to reach it.
- For swimmers, there is improved detection and counting of lengths completed..
- The Workout app now supports auto-sets when using the swim workout option. A rest at the edge of the pool marks the end of a set, with the Workout app now offering up distance metrics for each stroke type and pace for each set.
- You can now track multiple workouts at the same time and easily switch tracking between the different exercises that you are doing.
- If you don't want to be disturbed by incoming notifications while exercising, there's a new "Do Not Disturb During Workouts" option that can be enabled through the Watch app on your iPhone.
- You can now set a certain playlist to automatically play when you start a workout.
- Music playback controls are now integrated into the Workout app.
- New ‘Express Connect’ setting for connecting to Apple Watch-supported gym equipment.
- There is improved support for pairing an Apple Watch with other bluetooth accessories, such as glucose monitors.
- You can now make person to person payments with Apple Pay. This is part of new Apple Pay upgrades for iOS 11, but also works on your Apple Watch too. MB Apple confirmed on 18 September that person-to-person payments via Apple Pay will not be supported until later this Fall.
- Automatic playlist syncing including Apple Music-recommended playlists.
- You can now add multiple playlists to the Music app.
- You can now use your Apple Watch to control video playback on your iPhone.
- There is a new News app and complication.
- Most native Watch apps have seen functional or cosmetic tweaks.
- There are a number of new or updated complications.
- On your birthday you will receive a "Happy Birthday" notification on your Apple Watch.
For a more complete list of what’s new in watchOS 4, MacRumors offers a good overview.
And What About Accessibility?
It is our understanding that watchOS 4 brings no substantive new features and enhancements for blind and low vision users. We are currently aware of the following accessibility-related changes:
- Improvements in Large Text support on the Apple Watch-related iOS apps.
- Ability to adjust the click speed of the side button, so if you have motor impairments you have more time to bring up Apple Pay and other double and triple click functions.
We have only been able to carry out some extremely limited testing of watchOS 4 prior to today’s release of the final version, so have not yet been able to explore in full these new features or check for any further changes which will effect blind or low vision users. We will update this post with anything else that we learn. To help with this, please add a comment below to let us know of any changes, improvements or regressions that you find during your own use of watchOS 4.
How to Update to watchOS 4
watchOS 4 is available by going to the Watch app on your iPhone and navigating to General> Software Update. To install the update, your Watch must be connected to its charger and have at least 50% battery power.
More information on how to update the software on your Apple Watch is available on this Apple Support page.
As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this update.