Rumours of what Apple has in store for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the iPhone are dominating conversations about the tech giant, but let’s not forget about the Apple Watch. The brand recently hosted media in Los Angeles to demonstrate the latest software updates in watchOS 4, which will be released sometime this fall. “Health and fitness continues to be a priority for Apple,” says Jay Blahnik, Director of Fitness for Health Technologies at Apple, noting the built-in GPS and water resistance functions on the watch, as well as the Health app, which currently “has over 7,000 apps contributing data to it.” Here are the biggest new advancements from a fitness standpoint.
The Activity app is getting smarter
The Activity app — you’ll know this as the move (active calories you burn from moving around throughout the day), exercise (categorized as brisk activity) and stand (moving around for at least one minute every hour) rings you aim to close daily — is the most popular on the watch. This fall, it’s set to get a lot smarter, providing a more personalized experience. The app will learn your patterns of behaviour (like when you typically wake up and go to bed, what time of day you usually work out) and send notifications to help you close your rings. For instance, if you usually go to bed at 9 p.m., and haven’t achieved your move goal for the day, the watch will send a notification around 6 p.m., when you still have time to do something about it. (Note: you are able to set and change goals yourself, so they can be realistic or as challenging as you’d like.) In addition, expect targeted notifications that seek to motivate, like letting you know if you’re close to nearing a personal best or a new workout streak, and congratulations when you hit your daily goals.
HIIT workouts can now be accurately tracked
Researchers in the notoriously secretive four-year-old Apple Fitness Lab in Cupertino, Calif. have logged over 66,000 hours of testing data from over 10,000 individuals (all of whom are Apple employees) that is used to form algorithms for various activities within the Workout app. This fall, one of those activities will (finally!) include high-intensity-interval training. Back-to-back workouts will also be easier to track, whether you’re a triathlete or just someone who breaks up their workout into running, rowing and yoga segments, for example. The new Workout app will allow you to swipe once for a new activity and swipe again to bypass the countdown, so you can track each workout accurately without having to stop in between. The summary screen at the end of the workout will give you a breakdown of time and calories for the entire workout, as well as a breakdown by individual activity.
Track machine workouts more effectively with GymKit
According to Apple, there are over five billion unique visits to gyms in the U.S. each year. “We wanted to simplify the cardio machine experience and make it more accurate than ever before,” says Blahnik. “Coming in the fall, with a quick tap on your favourite cardio equipment, you’ll see for the first time, two-way data exchange in real time that will result in the most accurate measurements possible with less device management.” The pace and incline information will come from the machine, while the watch provides heart rate information and will handle calculating calories. (All your personal information stays stored in the watch—it is not shared.) So far TechnoGym, StairMaster, Life Fitness, Schwinn, Matrix, Cybex and Star Trac are the seven brands confirmed to be on-board with the program, but expect to hear from more in the fall.
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