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watchOS 11 lets you take a day off working out without losing your streak

The Activites app is also getting a Training Load feature to judge how hard you're working out.


Many of the new features coming to watchOS 11 are fitness-focused, with a new Training Load feature for the Activities app, pregnancy stats in Cycle Tracking and a brand new Vitals app. Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday showcased all the things we can expect when the operating system update for Apple Watches hits this fall.

The new app, Vitals, synthesizes data gathered overnight to give you a better understanding of your overall health. Apple Watch sensors will monitor details like heart rate, wrist temperature and respiration and combine that with data from the Apple Heart and Movement study so it can track changes over time and give you a heads up when things look outside their normal range. From what we've seen, Apple Watch batteries (outside of the Ultra model) don't quite make it through a night after a full day of use, so it'll be interesting to see how useful the new app will prove.

The Activity app is getting a few new abilities, including Training Load that measures the intensity and duration of your workout to see how it's impacting you over time. Using data from GPS, sensor metrics like heart rate and pace, as well as your personal details like age and weight, the app will determine a rating for each workout from one (easy) to 10 (all out). And if you don't agree with the assessment, you can manually adjust it. In a post workout summary, you can see if you're training above your average or below it.

The Workout app within the Apple Watch will now include a Check In button to let friends and family know when you're heading out and back home safe from a run.

Using your iPhone, you can set more customizations in the Activity app too. Now you can adjust your goals for the day of the week and set rest days while still hanging onto your streaks. The summary screen in the Fitness app on iPhone is customizable too.

The Cycle Tracking app can now give you insights during pregnancy, showing applicable health data as it tracks the duration of your pregnancy. This includes a look at your heart rate, which typically rises during pregnancy, as well as a running timeline of the gestational age. Walking stability alerts during the third trimester can also help you avoid falling issues that sometimes arise. Mental health will also get some attention, with reminders to take a monthly assessments to keep you aware of issues that pregnancy and postpartum conditions can trigger, like depression.

WWDC watchOS updates
WWDC watchOS updates (Apple)

Smart Stack — the rolling list of active app widgets you access by swiping up from the bottom of the screen — is getting some updates as well. Now instead of just active apps, the Smart Stack will include time sensitive widgets like precipitation alerts before it rains or the translate widget when traveling. That alerted us to the fact that the Translate app is coming to the Apple Watch, with translation support for 20 languages. Live Activities and Check In will come to the Smart Stack, too.

Apple is opening up access to the Smart Stack to third parties. So, for example, you'll see that your Uber is arriving in the widget carousel. Developers will have access to the Double Tap feature as well, for hands-free interaction with more apps.

If you like the Photos watch face, there's good news here too. Machine learning models will help you find the best photos to feature by identifying and scoring the images of your friends and family based on facial expressions and image composition. It can even automatically crop and frame them for you.

Almost as an afterthought, Apple also mentioned the advent of turn-by-turn directions for hiking and walking routes you created yourself.

If you're itching to try out the new features for yourself, you can do so next month if you're part of Apple's beta software program. Developers gained access as of the announcement. And for regular folk, watchOS 11 will be available as a free software update this fall for Apple Watch Series 6 and newer.

Catch up here for all the news out of Apple's WWDC 2024.