What’s new in watchOS 7

At today’s annual WWDC event, Apple announced the new version of watchOS, with face sharing, sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and more.

Watch faces and sharing

In watchOS 7, users can share watch faces, and download them from websites, App Store stories, and more. If a complication uses an app that the user doesn’t have, it will allow you to download the app before installing the face, or give you the option to continue without that particular complication.

watchOS 7: Watch Face Downloading

Also new in watchOS is of course watch faces. This year, Apple introduced the Chronograph Pro watch face, featuring an integrated tachymeter, a new  X-Large face, and color filters for the Photos face. Developers also now have the ability to offer more than one complication per app on a single watch face.

watchOS 7: X-Large face


With watchOS 7, Apple Watch introduces sleep tracking. hrough the detection of micro-movements from the watch’s accelerometer, which signals respiration during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently captures when the wearer is sleeping and how much sleep they get each night. In the morning, the wearer will see a visualization of their previous night’s sleep, including periods of wake and sleep.

To help users wake up, Apple Watch offers a silent haptic alarm or gentle sounds, while the wake-up screen shows the current battery level. Depending on personal charging behavior, if the battery is too low within an hour of bedtime, Apple Watch will remind users to charge it ahead of sleep.

watchOS 7: Sleep Tracking

Automatic handwashing detection

Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing. Apple Watch can also remind the user to wash their hands when they return home. Handwashing data will also be available in the Health app on iOS.

Handwashing Detection on watchOS 7


Apple also brought 4 new workout types to watchOS: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cooldown.

To correctly capture calorie exertion for Dance, Apple Watch uses advanced sensor fusion, combining data from the heart rate sensor and inputs from the accelerometer and gyroscope, that accounts for the unique challenges of measuring different body-to-arm motions typical with dance. This workout type was validated and tested with four of the most popular dance styles for exercise: Bollywood, cardio dance, hip-hop, and Latin.


Apple also redesigned the Activity app on iPhone, renamed to Fitness, providing a streamlined view of data including daily Activity, Workouts, Awards, and Activity Trends on the new Summary tab.


watchOS 7 introduces headphone audio notifications. With this, users can now understand how loudly they are listening to media through their headphones using their iPhone, iPod touch, or Apple Watch, and when these levels may impact hearing over time.

When total listening with headphones has reached 100 percent of the safe weekly listening amount, Apple Watch provides a notification to the wearer. This amount is based on World Health Organization recommendations that, for instance, a person can be exposed to 80 decibels for about 40 hours per week without an impact to hearing abilities.


Users can also view headphone volume data within the health app on iOS, and control the maximum level for headphone volume.

Headphone volume alerts on watchOS 7 and iOS 14

Additional watchOS updates

  • For optimal convenience while biking, cycling directions are available right on the wrist. Directions are large and easy to read, and Maps can direct when to dismount and walk the bike, or take the stairs to save time. The wearer can choose a route that avoids steep hills, gets to the destination the quickest, or takes the most direct path.
  • Customers can now use Siri to translate many languages conveniently from the wrist, dictation is handled on device with the power of the Apple Neural Engine for faster and more reliable processing when dictating messages and more, and Apple Watch now supports Announce Messages with Siri. The Shortcuts app is also now available on Apple Watch and can be accessed as a complication.
  • Developers can create graphic complications with SwiftUI, and new developer tools such as Xcode Previews make building them even easier.
  • New complications for native features include: Camera RemoteSleep, and Shortcuts.
  • New Mobility Metrics available in the Health app include: low-range cardio fitness, walking speed, stair-descent speed, stair-ascent speed, six-minute walk distance, double support time, step length, and asymmetry. These metrics are important for the clinical community to monitor patients’ ability to move safely and easily as they age. Typically only measured in a lab setting, these metrics can be uniquely measured by Apple Watch and iPhone, and used by developers, such as Zimmer Biomet, a musculoskeletal healthcare company, in patient care and in management tools such as mymobility.

So, when can I get it?

watchOS 7 is available to paid developer program members today at https://developer.apple.com/. It will be available next month to public beta testers at https://beta.apple.com/, and will be available to the public this fall.

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Senior writer for Apple TLD

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