WatchOS 8 comes with respiratory info & new mindfulness tools

Apple’s WWDC 2021 was held earlier today. It saw the official unveil of iOS 15, WatchOS 8, along with new versions of iPadOS, macOS and tvOS. All of these come with a plethora of updates.

Apple 2021 WWDC – what is it?

Apple’s 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was held earlier today. This is the second year in a row the annual event was hosted online only.

The all-important gathering brings together developers from all over the world. They typically congregate on San Jose, California. Once again, however, they dialed in from the comfort of their homes and offices. Last year was the first time this format was adopted.

“We love bringing our developers together each year at WWDC to learn about our latest technologies and to connect them with Apple engineers,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations and Enterprise and Education Marketing prior to the event.

“We are working to make WWDC21 our biggest and best yet, and are excited to offer Apple developers new tools to support them as they create apps that change the way we live, work, and play.”

The decision did not come as too much of a surprise. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of events to be cancelled.

To offset local businesses losses due to the online-only format, Apple has said it will committing $1 million to SJ Aspires, an education and equity initiative launched by the City of San José. This is part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.

The Spanish, though, are feeling a bit more optimistic. The MWC 2021 in Barcelona is planning an in-person gathering. In fact, they are expecting some 50,000 to congregate to the trade show on June 28th when it begins. This is about a half of their usual attendance. Those who choose to attend will need to provide results of a COVID-19 test from the previous 72 hours before arriving. There will be other safety measures, too.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Now in its 32nd year, WWDC is when Apple unveils its latest software developments. New iterations of all of its operating systems were announced.

Of most interest to our readers is watchOS 8. We will see the release of the first developer beta today. A public Beta will be available in July for those who want to test the features early. Most probably, you’ll be able to download the official version in early September.

Good news for Apple Watch 3 owners. WatchOS 8 will work on all Apple Watches that support watchOS 7.

WatchOS 8 – what’s new?

The Breathe app has been enhanced and renamed to Mindfulness. It has gone through a redesign and includes nifty animations to help you relax.

Reflect offers you a new way to chill out. Research has shown that regular mindful moments and uplifting messages can lead to less stress and a more positive mindset.

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Respiratory information will also be tracked while you sleep for the first time. This is the number of breaths per minute. Such information can be used to identify if you are coming down with something. Apple will also send you an alert if your respiratory rate reaches a threshold.

This type of metric has been available for some time on sports watches. Garmin and a number of other brands have had it for a while now. It’s a useful upgrade.

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There’s a new Tai-Chi workout. This is an ancient practice that can help to reduce stress. Another workout that is new is Pilates.

Apple has upgraded Fitness+ with new exercises. There’s a new artist spotlights series for music to motivate you while you workout.

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New portraits watch faces are also being introduced. They use portrait mode photos from your iPhone. You can scroll the digital crown to view dynamic, multilayered effects.

The photos app has been redesigned and now includes memory highlights, featured photos in addition to your favorites. There’s also the addition of a mosaic photo gallery layout.

Composing messages on the Apple Watch has been made easier. And there’s also better integration with Smart Home equipment. For example, the Wallet app has been upgraded to allow for digital key integration.

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iOS related health updates

Apple’s commitment to health is stronger than ever. To this end, the company is adding features to help you identify, measure and track health changes.

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The iPhone already captures mobility data. But now this is upgraded with something called Walking Steadiness. This allows you to know if your fall risk is increasing.

Sensors measure changes in your balance, stability and coordination. This is compared to a large dataset to dish out a Walking Steadiness measurement. This is charted over time and you’ll get notifications on how your steadiness is changing. What’s more you’ll get suggestions on how to improve your steadiness.

The health app now includes detailed descriptions for Lab Data. For example if you receive your cholesterol results, you’ll get detailed descriptions on good and bad cholesterol, along with what constitutes healthy ranges. That will allow you to better understand your results.

You’ll get insights on long-term health trends. This will help you identify changes that might make a difference to meeting your health goals and identify potential issues.

The company is also introducing ways to send your health data in a secure way – for example with your doctor. Not even Apple will be able to access such info. You’ll be able to share the info straight from your Apple device. This will be connected to a number of health providers.

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To round things off, there’s something called Family Health Sharing. For example, this allows you to keep tabs on your parents health. A heart rate increase of your loved one can let you know something might be amiss. Once again all the info is encrypted so no-one else can read it.

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