Apple has announced a brand new operating system for the Apple Watch called watchOS 4. It is available in developer preview from today and will be coming to all users this autumn. Here are the most important new features.
Siri Watch face
Apple is using Siri to proactively bring information to a new Apple Watch face. This face, powered by Siri Intelligence, will update contemporaneously with new information depending on the user’s needs and habits.
It’s powered by machine learning and, in essence, is just like the Google Now app on Android.
The watch face will refresh whenever users raise their wrist throughout the day and enable users to flip through cards serving up different pieces of information.
Related: Apple Watch 2 review
There is Photos, content from Apple news, coaching reminders from the Activity App, the weather, a reminder from the Breathe app. It’ll tell you what time the sunset is and give you options to control HomeKit enabled products, in line with that time of day.
The Activity app is also getting an overhaul with watchOS 4. Apple is introducing monthly goals and will deliver notifications to users that are approaching new streaks, in the hope of boosting motivation. Apple says these goals will be achievable because they’re based on the user’s actual workout history.
Apple has also expanded the swim mode, to automatically detect different sets. For Crossfitters or triathletes there’s also the ability to easily add a different workout to the same session for those involved in multiple activities.
Big news for more hardened fitness fanatics is the addition of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These are workouts built around periods of intense activity followed by recovery periods and are seen as a more effective workout over a shorter period of time compared to steady-state exercise, such as jogging.
Heart rate monitoring of HIIT workouts have typically been an area where wearables have struggled but we found the Apple Watch Series 2’s heart rate sensor proved surprisingly capable.
Related: How the Apple Watch 2 stacks up against dedicated fitness trackers
Apple is also teaming with a number of fitness equipment providers like TurboGym, which makes it possible to directly sync workout data back to the Apple Watch. This will work through NFC.
Other useful fitness functions include the new ability to use the display as a safety feature to make you more visible when night running.
In watchOS 4, the Music experience is getting a redesign and revamp. “Apple Watch paired with AirPods has really become a magical combination,” Apple says. We’re not so sure about this, but go on…
Apple says it is automatically syncing content from the Apple Watch it thinks you’ll want to listen to, so your mixes and playlists and new albums will all be available on the Watch without you having to mess around with transfers.
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Users will also be able to pick out a playlist to start in sync with their workouts, or alter the playlist from the workout app with a simple swipe.
There’s also new full-face album art designs arranged in a deck of cards that are easier to swipe through.
More new watch faces
Apple is continuing its partnership with Disney. Following on from the original Apple Watch’s Mickey Mouse face, watchOS 4 will introduce Buzz, Woody and Jessie from Pixar’s Toy Story franchise. Yes. Elsewhere there’s also a new kaleidoscope watch face that can be adjusted using the digital crown.
Apple has also added a Flashlight App in the new watchOS 4 operating system. There’s also support for audio recording in the background navigation, screen auto-rotate and native Core Bluetooth. The latter is a big deal for the future as that means greater support for external sensors and devices, such as oft rumoured glucose sensors.
Will Apple watchOS 4 tempt you into an Apple Watch purchase this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.