If you’re an Apple Watch user, then make sure you take the time to update your device to watchOS 4. Apple has introduced some exciting new features in this version: some big, some small, and others focusing on niches like activity tracking, health data, and interface tweaks.
Here’s the scoop on what’s new in watchOS 4.
A Fresh New Interface
Enjoy a new Apple Watch interface and an updated Dock and a style that better matches the changes made in iOS 11.
If you have never been a fan of the honeycomb layout, then you’re in luck. You can now change your main watch interface to a list layout. To do this, just use Force Touch on the screen in Grid View and then tap List View.
This makes it easy to switch back and forth for a different look now and then. Plus, for those with trouble finding what they need quick enough or tapping an app by mistake in Grid View, List View makes opening apps much simpler.
The Dock you access with the side button now displays your chosen apps vertically rather than horizontally. You simply scroll up and down using the touch screen or Digital Crown. Then, tap the one you want to open. You can also remove an app from your Dock by swiping it to the left and tapping Remove.
This is not a major change unless you prefer the Dock’s original view. It would be nice to see an option in the future to pick which view you want.
Better Activity Tracking
Adjustments to the Activity app help motivate and celebrate.
Start your day with Apple Watch and a daily inspiration. When you strap on your wearable each morning, you will see your Achievement Progress. This is a great motivator if you are close to reaching a goal or need a little extra encouragement.
When the end of the day is nearing and you have not met your Activity goals, Apple Watch knows. You will receive a suggestion on how to reach goals for moving, exercising, and standing.
When motivation is what you need to meet your goals, the new Monthly Challenge comes in handy. Based on your previous month’s accomplishments, the Activity app will present a challenge for you to reach. And, of course you can track your progress.
If you like to celebrate meeting your activity goals, then you will like the fullscreen celebrations. It may not be a huge new feature, but for people who like a little extra reward, it’s a cool addition.
Starting a workout, switching between exercises, and avoiding distractions to keep your routine on track.
You can now start your next workout with a single tap. The Quick Start feature lets you begin any kind of exercise routine by tapping on the type. You will then see a quick countdown from three to one, so be ready to go.
High-Intensity Interval Training
For those hardcore workout fans, the Apple Watch will track your calories burned more accurately. Your watch uses a combination of heart rate and motion monitoring to provide you the most precise data possible.
The high-intensity workout is one of the options you can choose from the Workout app.
Gym Equipment Sync
For tracking heart rate, speed, calories, and other metrics with your workout equipment, the sync feature is awesome. You just pair your Apple Watch with compatible equipment like StairMaster, Life Fitness, or Schwinn, and you’re on your way.
Enhanced Swim Tracking
Swimmers will love the improved swim tracking feature. The Pool Swim workout now tracks your sets, rests, pace, and distance for each type of swim stroke. Remember, this workout option is available on Apple Watch Series 2 or later.
If you do consecutive workouts, the new Quick Switch feature lets you move between them with a tap. Switch from one type of exercise to another during a single workout session. You can then check out a summary of your metrics when you finish.
Do Not Disturb
Similar to the new Do Not Disturb while driving feature in iOS 11, Apple Watch offers this enhancement during workouts. When you start your exercise routine, Do Not Disturb is automatically enabled. This lets you get through your workout without interruptions from text messages, phone calls, or emails.
To enable this option, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Select General > Do Not Disturb and slide the indicator next to Workout Do Not Disturb to turn it on. You will then notice when you begin your next workout, the blue moon icon on your Apple Watch screen.
Improved Heart Rate Monitoring
Monitoring your heart rate and receiving alerts when it’s too high are now easier than ever on Apple Watch.
Enhanced Heart Rate App
If you have been using a third-party app to measure and record your BPM, you might like the improvements to the Apple Watch Heart Rate App. You can monitor your heart rate throughout the day for resting, walking, and after a workout.
Elevated Heart Rate Alerts
Another added feature to the Heart Rate App is an alert system. During a 10-minute inactive period of time, if your heart rate rises above the threshold, you will receive an alert.
To set the BPM for your alert, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Next, tap Notifications > Heart Rate > Elevated Heart Rate. Select the BPM from 100 to 150 and you’re set. You should receive an alert during that idle interval if your heart rate rises above your setting.
Apple Music Support
You can now stream over 40 million tunes right on your wrist.
If you are an Apple Music user, then you will enjoy the new sync feature in watchOS 4. Playlists that Apple Music puts together will automatically sync to your Apple Watch. Listening to your favorite genres will be easier than ever.
Of course, you can still access your music library and saved playlists from the app on your Apple Watch.
Siri Gets Even Better
Helpful Siri, top news, and neat faces are all part of watchOS 4.
Siri Watch Face and Complication
Siri gets smarter all the time and with watchOS 4, you have a new all-day assistant. Use the new Siri watch face for details you need at the right time. You can also check out the Siri complication when using other watch faces.
From reminders and appointments to directions and weather, it’s all conveniently right on your Siri watch face exactly when you need it.
Apple Pay Cash and Person-to-Person Payments (Fall 2017)
If you have Apple Pay set up, then you can lend or send money you owe to your pal anytime with Apple Watch. And if you are the one receiving money from someone else, your cash will be immediately available for use with Apple Pay.
If you like the News App on your iPhone, then this cool app on Apple Watch is ideal. It provides topics tailored to your interests throughout the day. You can check out a summary or save the entire article on your iPhone and read it later.
More Watch Faces
To access the new faces in watchOS 4, tap the Face Gallery tab at the bottom of the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. The new options are at the very top and once you select one and adjust the features and complications, tap Add. It will then appear under My Faces in the My Watch section of the app.
Kaleidoscope Watch Face
The new kaleidoscope watch face is a pretty nifty addition to the mix. You can choose from eight different flowers or use a photo of your own. Then, select a style from facet, radial, or rosette. Make it your current watch face and see the image turn into a movable kaleidoscope when you turn the Digital Crown. You can use three complications with this cool watch face.
Toy Story Watch Face
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse have new friends in the Apple Watch Gallery. Characters from the hit movie Toy Story are now available as watch faces. Choose from the toy box of characters or just pop Buzz or Woody onto your watch. Each face allows you to have two complications.
Don’t Forget to Update!
If you have not received a notification to update your Apple Watch to watchOS 4, you can check for it manually. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select General > Software Update on the My Watch tab. You will see the app search for the update and then be prompted to move through the process.
What’s Your Favorite New Feature?
Some are thrilled with the new workout features while some will rock the music enhancements. And, still others are just happy to see a new layout option and stylish watch faces. And don’t forget to check out the Apple Watch Series 3 if you’re ready to upgrade.
Do you have a favorite feature in watchOS 4? Or are you disappointed hoping for something that didn’t arrive? Let us know in the comments below!