watchOS 4 is out today as a free update for all Apple Watch models. The latest version brings three new watch faces including Toy Story and Siri, new versions of Music and the Heart Rate app, enhancements to the Activity and Workout apps including High Intensity Interval Training, and much more.
The new Siri watch face features a proactive timeline that shows relevant information in a vertically scrolling timeline. It features a new Siri complication and configurable data sources including Home, Now Playing, and Workout. You can change which show in the Watch app on iPhone. Kaleidoscope is a vibrant analog watch face that twists and turns photos to create color effects. You can even create new Kaleidoscope faces using photos you shoot from the iPhone.
And Toy Story is the latest character watch face (joining Mickey and Minnie Mouse). Choose between Woody, Buzz, Jessie, or the whole toy box and watch each character come to life each time you check your watch.
There are also new complications for Now Playing, Messages, Heart Rate, and News that you can use on other watch faces.
watchOS 4 focuses on enhancing the fitness tracking experience with Apple Watch starting with the Activity app. New monthly challenges are tailored to push you further with a unique goal, and daily Activity alerts are personalized and much smarter. Apple Watch can now suggest a brisk 15 minute walk to finish your Move goal toward the end of the day, for example, rather than updating on a set time.
Completing an Activity ring or challenge also presents beautiful new effects that celebrate your achievement daily, and Activity Sharing replies are more detailed with workout metrics and new artwork that adds character.
The Workout app has also been redesigned with a new look and more features. Each workout is now a quick start so you can just tap and go, or tap the more indicator to set a goal for your workout. Apple Watch now notifies you during a workout when you complete an Activity goal as well which is really useful.
You can now track High Intensity Interval Training workouts, and pool swim workouts have been enhanced for swimmers as well. You can also access Now Playing controls during a workout, autoplay your favorite playlist if music isn’t already playing, and optionally turn on Do Not Disturb when a workout begins.
watchOS 4 also upgrades the Heart Rate app with a new graph that shows your heart rate over time and includes the ability to receive alerts when your heart rate is higher when you’re inactive. You can also see new metrics including “resting rate (Apple Watch Series 1 and later), walking average, workout average and high, recovery time, and sessions in the Breathe app.”
watchOS 4 also dramatically improves the Music experience. You can now automatically sync Apple Music playlists as well as music that is frequently played or recently added. Music now also supports syncing multiple playlists for the first time.
watchOS 4 also brings these changes:
- News app with summaries of Top Stories and save for later to read on iPhone
- Flashlight and Safety Light in Control Center
- Vertical scrolling through recently used apps in the Dock
- App home screen available in an alphabetical list view
- Mail compose and swipe gestures
- Dialer pad in the Phone app
- Conflicts displayed in Calendar invites
- Scribble support for German
- Sub-minute and repeating timers
- Suggested and recent locations in Maps
- Contacts and locations in smart replies
watchOS 4 will gain Apple Pay Cash and a new feature called GymKit in the future:
With GymKit, users will soon enjoy the ability to connect to their favorite cardio equipment and experience two-way synchronization of data with just a tap, resulting in the most accurate information possible.
How to prepare Apple Watch for update
- Before you update to watchOS 4, you will need to update your paired iPhone to iOS 11 which is also available starting today.
- Your Apple Watch will also need at least 50% charge to update. Apple Watch charges quickly, but it won’t update even if it’s connected to the charger and not at least at 50%. If your Apple Watch is at 50% or higher already, you’ll still need to keep the charger attached as the update could take a while and you don’t want to have your watch power down before the update is complete.
- Your iPhone will also need to be on Wi-Fi to download and install the watchOS 4 update to your Apple Watch. This won’t work over cellular. Be sure to keep your iPhone and Apple Watch in close range during the update process to avoid interrupting the update or having a slower experience.
How to update Apple Watch to watchOS 4
- Now that you’re prepared, launch the Watch app on your iPhone, then look for the My Watch tab and General → Software Update sections.
- Enter your Apple Watch passcode if prompted, and follow the on-screen prompts from your iPhone.
- Wait for Apple Watch to update. You can view the progress from the Watch app. Expect two restarts on the Apple Watch during the process as the progress indicator completes two times.