Apple demonstrated a host of useful new features that will ship with watchOS 4 at the WWDC 2017 keynote, but as always, they were constrained on time and couldn’t show us everything the update has to offer.
In this piece, well talk about everything we’ve found new in watchOS 4 so far. We’ll include everything Apple demonstrated in addition to lesser-known features that weren’t given the spotlight at the event.
Improvements to Watch faces
Apple is going a step further with Apple Watch faces by giving you more to choose from. These include:
- New Buzz Lightyear-themed Toy Story Watch face
- New Woody-themed Toy Story Watch face
- New Jessie-themed Toy Story Watch face
- New Kaleidoscope Watch face
- New Siri Watch face
- A couple of new photo-based Watch faces
- Make a Watch face from any image on your iPhone
Improvements to app features
Apple is also making the use of apps on your Apple Watch more bearable by giving them more capabilities and major performance improvements:
- Faster loading times for apps
- App UIs are now more responsive
- Developers can now make full-screen apps
- Developers can now make apps that record audio in the background
- Apps can access your location
- Apps can access the heart rate sensor in real-time
- Apps can access the gyroscope and accelerometer in real-time
- Apps can now perform route mapping and navigation in real time
- Apps can now access water lock
- Automatic screen rotation
Improvements for Music
Listening to music with your Apple Watch is about to get a whole lot better thanks to these features:
- Brand-new Music app
- Automatic music playback when working out
- Swipe left to access music during a workout
- Automatically syncs your favorite music to Apple Watch
- Support for multiple song playlists
- Now Playing music persistently shows up on Apple Watch
- Updated Now Playing complication
Improvements for Mail
If you take emails on your wrist, then you’ll appreciate these new watchOS 4 features:
- New gestures for the Mail app
- Quick compose an email
- New animations
Improvements for Messages
One of the most popular uses of the Apple Watch is to take and answer text messages, and watchOS 4 brings some important new features in this department, such as:
- New Messages complication shows the number of unread messages
- Send contacts and current location in new smart replies
- Send people money through iMessage
Improvements for Apple Pay & NFC
The Apple Watch is NFC-enabled just like the iPhone is, so many of the new improvements to NFC and Apple Pay on iPhone are coming to the Apple Watch as well:
- Person-to-person Apple Pay payments
- Apple Pay Cash Card for storing received payments
- Third-party apps can access the NFC chip
New Siri features
Siri gets smarter in watchOS 4 as she learns the following new features:
- Siri can now jot things down in the Notes app
- Siri can now access lists in the Reminders app
New fitness features
Your Apple Watch was built to be a fitness companion, and Apple is giving you more new workout features in watchOS 4 than ever before, including:
- Personalized activity notifications
- More daily activity notifications
- Monthly activity challenges
- Full-screen celebrations for hard-to-earn achievements
- New layout for the Workout app
- Quick-start for workouts
- Quickly switch between workouts
- Now calculates VO2 Max when outdoors
- Do Not Disturb while working out
- Workouts no longer need to be saved
- Support for high-intensity interval training
- Better support for tracking swimming progress
- Two-way syncing with supported gym equipment
- New workout segments
- View high-intensity workout types (calorie, open, timed)
- Notifications when you close a workout ring during a workout
Support for Core Bluetooth
For the first time, Apple Watch will support Core Bluetooth, which means it can now bypass the iPhone entirely and communicate directly with certain Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as the Dexcom continuous glucose checker.
A new Apple Watch App Store
Apple redesigned the App Store with iOS 11, so you can expect similar changes in watchOS 4 when searching for apps via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
News app comes to Apple Watch
Apple has brought the News app from your iPhone to the Apple Watch so you can stay even more intertwined with your favorite news sites – for better or for worse. The app can give you summary-based notifications throughout the day.
Use Apple Watch as a flashlight
If you’re wearing your Apple Watch and your iPhone is nowhere to be found, you can now use your Apple Watch as a flashlight thanks to a new Control Center toggle button. There are three modes, including white, red, and strobe.
Format the Home screen as a list
When the Apple Watch launched with its honeycomb-like Home screen, there were mixed reactions about it. Apple now lets you go into a scrollable list-mode Home screen instead, which may be better for those with larger fingers or accessibility issues.
Apple Watch is known for its Dock, which grants access to your favorite apps even easier, but Apple has redesigned it with a vertical look and feel in watchOS 4.
Starting with watchOS 4, you will be able to set a sub-minute timer to time yourself with more precise time measurements. You can also take advantage of a repeat function so you can time yourself over and over again.
Improved Heart Rate indicator
Apple Watch is a great way to monitor your heart rate, whether you’re still and at rest or you’re in the middle of a workout. For the first time, watchOS 4 will display your heart rate over time as a graph instead of as live numbers.
Scribble in the Remote app
Those who control their music with the Remote app on their Apple Watch can now use Scribbe in watchOS 4 to ‘type’ the things they’re looking for.
Better notification delivery screen
Apple Watch has always displayed single full-screen notifications as they come in, but watchOS 4 changes that by allowing you to see multiple notifications in the same screen. This will be potentially useful when someone is spam-texting you, as you were previously unable to see the content of every message.
Updated pairing screen
The screen you see when pairing your watchOS 4-enabled Apple Watch with an iOS 11 device will now have a new look and feel.
Tips displayed when syncing
Since your Apple Watch can’t be used in the middle of syncing with your iPhone, Apple has made it so watchOS 4 gives you handy tips and pointers throughout the syncing process so that you have something to look at.
More Camera features
Apple Watch could always be used as a remote control for your iPhone’s Camera, but now it gets the ability to switch between new camera modes like portrait and video so you can get the perfect shot.
Apple noted on one of their WWDC slides that watchOS 4 will come with accessibility improvements, such as timed button presses. Although they didn’t get a chance to demo this feature, we assume this means you can time the side button and Digital Crown presses similarly to the Home button iPhones and iPads.
New passcode button sound
As you enter your passcode on your Apple Watch, you’ll be presented with a satisfying new sound in watchOS 4.
Although that wraps things up for this list of watchOS 4 features, we’re sure many other hidden Easter eggs will show up between now and the official public release this Fall.
It can be difficult to outline everything in one post, so if we’ve missed anything, we would appreciate if you could let us know in the comments section below. Moreover, let us know what your favorite watchOS 4 feature is, and why!