WatchOS4 comes this fall with better fitness tracking & Siri

The long awaited Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 (WWDC 2017) has officially begun.

The event is held annually in California to showcase Apple’s new software and technologies for developers. Attendees get direct access to Apple engineers, and can participate in a variety of in-depth sessions covering a wide range of subjects.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets for 2017

The company kicked off the proceedings with details on the Apple Watch operating system update. Dubbed watchOS4, the software brings a few new useful features.

Apple is clearly shifting focus. And this is evident from the second generation device which focuses on improving activity tracking capabilities. If you are a runner or swimmer you no doubt appreciate the GPS connectivity and waterproofing. While the Cupertino company didn’t deliver a significant design refresh in 2016, new components in Apple Watch Series 2 make it better, while software upgrades makes it smarter and more useful.

Fitness tracking functionality is going to be extended further with watchOS4.

The Workout app will upgraded with better coaching, monthly challenges, fancier visuals, and a new mode for High Intensity Interval Training. There is also enhanced swim tracking. The updated Pool Swim workout automatically tracks sets and rests, pace for each set, and distance for each type of stroke.

For the triathlon runners amongst us, the watch will now accommodate for multiple workouts. Simply swipe to the side to switch between them on the fly.

Perhaps more usefully, the watch will also be able to interact with a variety of connected devices via Bluetooth and gym equipment via NFC. Fitness brands such as LifeFitness, Matrix and TechnoGym will start rolling out compatible equipment this fall.

“When you use gym equipment it has data the Apple Watch doesn’t have, and the Watch has data the gym equipment doesn’t have, so you end up with numbers like calories and distance that don’t quite match,” Apple VP of Technology Kevin Lynch said.

“In WatchOS 4 we’ve come up with a great solution to this. We’re enabling, for the first time, two-way data exchange in real time with gym equipment. You’ll be able to simply tap your Apple Watch on an NFC reader in your gym equipment, and your Watch will automatically launch the workout app.

Essential reading: Our quick verdict on the Apple Watch Series 2 as a fitness tracker

To improve the AirPods experience, watchOS4 delivers an updated Music app, in addition to Apple News and a new way to switch between recently used apps. The more cosmetic changes involve watch faces with complications of their own, a Siri-powered watch face that displays information from your calendar and apps intelligently, and a set of new Toy Story Disney animations. Similar to the iPhone, the control center will also now have flashlight functionality using the display.

“WatchOS 4 Introduces new ways to make the Watch more personal to you,” added Kevin Lynch.

The developer preview of the new operating system is available now, with the customer release coming this fall.

You can watch the full keynote on this link.

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