Apple’s annual developer conference’s keynote had major announcements for all its operating systems, including the next generation of its wearable OS. WatchOS 9 brings more customisable watch faces, updates to the workout app and a new atrial fibrillation feature.
The next version of iPadOS was also announced, with collaboration and multitasking being the centre of development. The iPad now gets a new weather app alongwith an upcoming collaborative whiteboard app due to launch later this year.
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There have been some vital updates to Apple’s wearable OS bringing a ton of new activity metrics, four new watch faces, UI enhancements, better sleep insights and an FDA-approved AFib History feature.
WatchOS 9 brings four new watch faces, including a Lunar watch face supporting Chinese, Islamic, and Hebrew calendars. An astronomy face shows cloud cover over the earth in real-time, and two more watch faces called Playtime and Metropolitan.
Other than the watch faces, other visual customisations and active apps can now be pinned for quick access. There’s a new Siri UI, and just like iOS 16, users can now set specific home screens for their watch depending on their focus mode.
Moving on from customisation options, we have a bunch of new running metrics, including stride length, ground contact time, heart rate zones and overall running form. Users will also receive alerts for power, heart rate, pace and cadence. There’s also better sleep tracking with the introduction of sleep stages.
Switching between cycling, swimming and running is now easier, and WatchOS 9 has kickboard detection letting the watch track swims where a kickboard was used. The watch also measures stroke efficiency by using a SWOLF score. Custom workouts can also be created, and the digital crown can be used to switch between workout modes.
Fitness Plus also gets many updates, including the ability to see guidance for particular metrics, including but not limited to intensity in cardio workouts. Other metrics include strokes per minute in rowing, revolutions per minute for cyclists and incline for walkers and runners. Last but not least, Fitness Plus subscribers without a compatible Apple Watch and see their metrics using AirPlay.
Like iOS 16, WatchOS 9 also gets medication reminders integrated with the Health app. Users can now build a medication list to keep track of their medication and ensure they’re on schedule. Medication can be scanned on an iPhone to add to the app, and the app will let users know if any of the medicines they’re taking conflict with each other. The feature currently is limited to the US.
WatchOS 9 also supports an FDA-cleared AFib History feature which lets users access information like the frequency of their heart rhythm showing potential signs of AFib and will provide more insight into the condition. The app will also give weekly notifications to help the user better understand the frequency and history of these factors, including lifestyle habits which may worsen the condition.
WatchOS 9 will be available for Series 4 or later, hinting at the discontinuation of Series 3, a rather popular smartwatch in Apple’s stable. A developer beta for the new OS is already out. The public beta will follow next month before the Fall launch, likely coinciding with Apple Watch Series 8.
Now more than ever, Apple’s iPadOS 16 is pushing the iPad experience to a more PC-like multitasking environment. While iPadOS shares some features with iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, including the new Stage Manager tool and Passkeys in Safari, Apple’s tablet OS has gotten several upgrades to improve multitasking.
However, most of the big multitasking updates, including Stage Manager, will only be available for M1 iPads. Stage Manager is a feature where apps can be viewed as windows on a screen (up to eight at a time), can overlap each other and can be dragged and dropped wherever the user likes. Now that external displays (up to 6k resolution) are supported, the feature can run four windows on the iPad and four on the external monitor, making good use of the extra screen space.
Apple demonstrated several different collaboration features on the iPad as well. Users can now work together on apps like Pages directly from the share sheet, like what Google offers in its Docs and Sheets cloud services. Apps currently supporting this functionality include Files, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, and Safari. The company has also announced an API for developers to add this feature to their apps.
A new Whiteboard app called Freeform is also coming to the iPad. The app allows users to work together in a shared space, supports Apple Pencil and can pull in many different file types, including PDFs, images and links. It’ll be released later this year.
Speaking of new apps, the M1 iPads are also getting a Display Zoom feature, letting users increase pixel density for more screen space, along with a new weather app much like iOS 16’s.
iPadOS 16 is in developer beta starting Monday, with a public beta coming out next month ahead of a final launch later this fall. The new OS will be available on the fifth-generation or newer iPad, iPad Mini, third-generation or later iPad Air and all iPad Pro models.
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