Apple has today released watchOS 7, bringing a new Sleep app, new watch faces, the ability to use more than one complication from an app on the same face, face configuration sharing, handwashing tracking, Family Setup, and more.
Here are the highlights.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of your health. With watchOS 7, Apple Watch now uses its accelerometer to notice the subtle movements associated with breathing and differentiate between sleeping and waking states.
This data is used to generate a sleep analysis chart showing how much you’ve slept in the past week.
Beyond tracking your sleep patterns, Apple say that watchOS 7 and its new Sleep app bring a number of tools and options that allow you to create a schedule and a bedtime routine so you can meet your sleep goals.
Get bedtime reminders and more wake‑up sounds.
Wound up? Wind Down assists you in establishing a bedtime routine with shortcuts that help you relax, like opening a meditation app and dimming your lights.
Start your morning with a weather report and your battery level. If you get up before your alarm, you’ll be asked if you want to turn it off.
Charge and recharge
If your battery is below 30 percent near bedtime, you’ll get a reminder to charge. If you charge after waking up, you’ll get an iPhone notification when you’re at 100 percent.
Sleep in the Health app
On iPhone, you can manage your sleep schedule, view sleep trends over time, and see how consistently you’re meeting your sleep goals.
Additionally, when you go to bed, your Apple Watch can automatically turn on Do Not Disturb and prevent your screen from waking.
Watch Faces and Complications
As is usual for each major watchOS release, there are new and enhanced watch faces.
New watch faces in watchOS 7 are:
- The GMT face shows multiple time zones at once, while also taking into account your physical location. 12-hour time is displayed on the inner dial with local time, while the outer dial displays 24-hour time.
- The Count Up face lets you start tracking elapsed time by tapping the bezel.
- The Chronograph Pro face features multiple time scales (60, 30, 6, or 3 seconds) along with a tachymeter to measure speed based on time travel over a set distance.
- The Typograph face displays numerals in three custom type styles (custom, modern, and rounded) and four different scripts (Arabic, Arabic Indic, Devanagari, and Roman).
- The Art face features artistic animated designs created by artist Jeff McFetridge and which have the time overlaid.
- The Memoji face brings animated Memoji to the Apple Watch that react to touch.
- The Stripes face features different striped patterns in a variety of colors for supporting sports teams, matching what you're wearing, and more. You can choose the number of stripes, the number of colors, and rotate the stripes in any angle.
According to Apple, the Stripes, Typograph, Memoji, GMT, Chronograph Pro, and Count Up watch faces are limited to the Series 4, Series 5, and Series 6 Apple Watch models, along with the Apple Watch SE.
We've yet to test these faces to determine how well they perform with VoiceOver.
One other change is that the X‑Large face gets rich complications, which is likely to be welcomed by low vision users.
Watch face complications get a major upgrade in watchOS 7. You can now set more than one complication per app, so developers are able to offer more than just a single option. For example, a weather app could offer complications for temperature, conditions, precip, UV index, and wind speed, all of which could be used on the same watch face.
You can now share watch face configurations you’ve created by texting, emailing, or posting a link online. Or, use watch faces shared by other Apple Watch users or developers. If you don't have one or more of the watch apps installed that supplies complications for the shared face, you will be prompted to install it.
Additionally, a curated selection of custom watch face configurations will be available from the App Store.
Keeping your hands clean has never been more important. With watchOS 7, Apple Watch uses its motion sensors and microphone to automatically detect handwashing. If your watch detects that you’ve stopped washing your hands early, it will encourage you to continue for the full 20 seconds that is recommended by global health organizations. Apple Watch can also remind you to wash your hands when you get home.
Family Setup lets you pair watches for your children and older family members to your iPhone, meaning that they don't need to have an iPhone of their own. They will have their own phone number and you can manage their Apple Watch on your iPhone.
Parental controls allow you to approve contacts and downloaded apps. And you can schedule Schooltime mode to limit Apple Watch features. You can also use the Find My app to track their location and receive alerts when they leave or arrive at designated locations.
With Apple Cash Family, you can send money to your children to spend with Apple Pay on their Apple Watch.
Other Notable Changes
- The Activity app has been renamed to Fitness, and you can now track your fitness metrics for Dance, Functional Strength Training, Core Training, and even your post-workout Cooldown.
- Activity rings have been rethought for kids, tracking Move minutes instead of active calories. Running, walking, and cycling workouts also calculate metrics like distance and pace more accurately for kids.
- You can now get spoken translations for 10 languages from Siri on your Apple Watch. Simply ask something like “how do you say good morning in French?”
- Shortcuts can now be run from Apple Watch - there's a new Shortcuts app and shortcuts can also be added to watch faces as complications.
- Dictation is now processed on Apple Watch, which should make it faster and more reliable.
- You can now customize Stand hours and Exercise minutes.
And What About Accessibility?
There are some new features and enhancements coming to Apple Watch for blind and low vision users in watchOS 7:
- The VoiceOver rotor is now available on Apple Watch, although with much fewer options than on other platforms.
- Turning on VoiceOver is now presented as an option when setting up Apple Watch.
- HapTic feedback is now provided when performing a VoiceOver gesture.
We have only been able to carry out some extremely limited testing of watchOS 7 ahead of today’s public release, so have not yet been able to explore in full the new features and changes mentioned above. Our early impression is that they appear to work well with VoiceOver, and at this time we are unaware of any new issues for blind or low vision Apple Watch users.
It is possible that there are further changes in watchOS 7 which will affect 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 7.
How to Update to watchOS 7
watchOS 7 requires iPhone 6s or later with iOS 14 or later and one of the following Apple Watch models:
- Apple Watch Series 3
- Apple Watch Series 4
- Apple Watch Series 5
- Apple Watch SE
- Apple Watch Series 6
Not all features are available on all devices.
watchOS 7 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. What do you like? What do you not like? Let us know by adding a comment below.