Hands-on with watchOS 4: pausing workouts in the background, Toy Story faces & more

Yesterday was a big day as Apple seeded a bunch of new betas to its developers. Earlier this morning, we posted a nicely done hands-on video walkthrough of the new features and changes in iOS 11 beta 2, but what about the latest watchOS 4 beta?

Your wish is our contributor Andrew O’Hara’s command!

Andrew put together a quick video demonstration of everything new in the latest beta of watchOS 4. Keep in mind that watchOS 4 beta 2 is not as feature-packed as a second beta of iOS 11, but there’s still plenty to get excited about.

Watch Andrew’s video highlighting all the new stuff and important changes in beta 2.

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Aside from the gorgeously animated characters on the new Toy Story watch face, this beta lets you press the Side button and the Digital Crown simultaneously in order to quickly pause an active workout session, even if the Workout app is running in the background.

This is a very compelling feature for those who use their watch for swimming. Prior to watchOS 4, pausing a workout while swimming first required you to turn the Digital Crown to expel the water from the speaker. Then you had to swipe on the Workout app’s screen to reveal the session controls, among them the Pause button.

The problem is, a wet Apple Watch display tends to behave erratically so getting to that screen while in water was difficult. With the new shortcut, this particular pain point goes away.

Haptics now play for frontmost apps in watchOS 4 beta 2, but some languages are unavailable for Dictation, including the newly released Shanghainese dictation.

New features and changes

Here are the new features and important changes in watchOS 4 beta 2.

  • Nicely animated Toy Story watch face
  • Breathe notifications now respect your custom settings
  • Location-based automation triggers now work if triggered from the alert on Apple Watch
  • Pressing the Side Button and Digital Crown pauses an active workout session even if the Workout app is not in the foreground
  • SiriKit requests no longer fail with a “Sorry I can’t do that” error.
  • watchOS apps from TestFlight or the App Store now work with SiriKit
  • Siri may not play music that has been synced to Apple Watch
  • Music tracks now play from and sync to Apple Watch (Apple Watch must be on its charger for Music tracks to sync and Love/Dislike options are currently missing for locally synced music on your watch)

Aside from Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear, the new Toy Story watch face in the second beta provides other animated characters, like Ham, Rex and Bullseye.

A separate video from Andrew shows off almost all the character animations available in the new Toy Story watch face, including additional customizations.

That’s all, folks!

As we conclude our tour of watchOS 4 beta 2, we’d like to ask you to share any new feature discoveries of your own with fellow readers by posting them in the comment section.

You can also shoot us your findings via tips@iDownloadBlog.com.

What’s your favorite new feature in watchOS 4 beta 2, and why?