CUPERTINO, Calif.—During the keynote presentation kickoff of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple revealed the first details about the next major software update for the Apple Watch: watchOS 9.
The forthcoming OS makes a big push in health and fitness, adding a bevy of new features for both. On the Fitness front, Apple is expanding workout metrics to include heart rate zones, as well as some running-specific data. The Running activity mode will calculate vertical oscillation, stride length, and ground contact time, which you can see at a glance on your Apple Watch. All activity modes will add heart rate zone data, as well. If you set an HR zone for your workout, you’ll receive alerts indicating whether you’re in or out of that zone. Apple’s also adding a custom workout activity where the user can create their own workouts. Users will be able to set stages like “work” and “recovery,” as well as heart rate zones to hit. Alerts via haptic feedback and voice tell you when to switch from each stage. This will happen automatically for triathletes switching from swimming, cycling, and running.
As for health features, Apple’s expanding this to include medication tracking, complete with alerts for critical drug interactions, and optional data sharing with family or doctors. This can include vitamins and supplements. You’ll also receive periodical reminders of what’s being shared and with who. Notifications and watch complications will be available to remind you to take medications you use regularly, hopefully freeing up your reminders app a bit. All of this can be controlled from the Health app on an iPhone, even if you don’t have an Apple Watch.
AFib detection and sleep tracking will also be more robust. AFib data will have historical tracking and allow users to manage lifestyle factors that may affect the amount of time they spend in AFib. You’ll be able to share this with your doctor, but it’s still pending FDA clearance. Using the accelerometer and your heart rate data, sleep tracking on Apple Watch will finally include sleep stages for REM, deep, and “core” sleep.
As for UX/UI improvements, four new watch faces will better utilize the Apple Watch Series 7’s more expansive screen, there will be support for more keyboard languages, and new ways for developers to connect with Apple TV, HomeKit, and more.
Apple’s WWDC keynote is ongoing, and this article will be updated with new details as we have them. You can follow along in real-time with our liveblog here.