While many conventions and other annual events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s most visible tech company, Apple, kept the show going with its yearly Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote event. The 2020 version of the show was a bit different though, of course—the opening address event was recorded and broadcast via livestream to all attendees, instead of the typical live event filled with guests from around the world on Apple’s Cupertino campus.
Still, the previews of Apple’s latest and greatest software updates—which usually launch along with new hardware like the iPhone every September—rolled on. We tuned in to the address to check out the most important announcements for people who use their devices for fitness.
Along with the updates below, Apple announced new features for iPad OS, enhanced privacy and security features in their software and products for home, and a move to proprietary Apple Silicon chips for its Mac computers.
What’s Coming for iOS 14
Apple’s mobile software for its phones, iOS, is now in its 14th iteration. You’ll soon be able to view your apps in a new automatic organizational structure, the App Library, to cut through the clutter.
Even more exciting, there’s a new Picture-in-Picture mode, which allows you to keep a video running on-screen even while you sift through different apps. For active users in the gym, that might mean that you’ll be able to finally pull up a video to check out your lifting form or even follow along with a pre-recorded workout session without having to exit the other apps you have running.
Maps will also be updated to include a cycling option, which allows bike riders to travel along bike paths and roads in New York, L.A., and other cities to come.
What’s Coming for AirPods
Apple’s ubiquitous white stick headphones are getting some new features via software updates, too.
All AirPod owners will be able to cycle through all of their connected Apple devices with automatic switching.
AirPods Pro owners will get a big update called Spatial Audio, which purports to provide a totally immersive listening experience—as if you’re sitting in the middle of a movie theater—through their earbuds by using dynamic tracking to pinpoint your head position.
What’s Coming for Apple Watch OS 7
The address shifted to Apple’s Fitness Center to announce new features for Apple’s bestselling wearable, the Apple Watch. There are new complications (on-screen stats) which will allow users to personalize their Watch faces even more with the information they’d like to display natively on-screen. You’ll also be able to share those Watch faces with others using face sharing—so if you have a particular face setup for surfing, for example, you can make it accessible to others via several channels. The Watch OS Map app is also updated with cycling routes on wrist, so you won’t have to pull out your phone while holding your handlebars.
Apple Watch Series 5
The Workout app got an overhaul, too. Dance is the newest activity to be included in the app, with multiple styles available. Core training, functional strength training, and cooldowns will also be their own selectable activity, providing a much wider range for weight room users. The iPhone’s Activity app, which has been totally redesigned, is now retitled the Fitness app.
The biggest update of the day for health and fitness might just be sleep tracking, one key feature where Apple Watch has lagged behind competitors like Fitbit and Garmin. The new Wind Down feature will allow users to transition to bedtime using their iPhone and Watch. Once you’re asleep, the Watch goes to sleep, too—but then wakes you up in the morning. There’s also a new Sleep section in the Health app.
Keeping up with the times, machine learning models and the Watch microphone can now recognize handwashing. The activity becomes something like a mini-game, with cues to keep users cleaning beyond just a perfunctory rinse and shake.
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