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These new WatchOS 7 features take your Apple Watch to the next level



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WatchOS 7 adds some meaningful features.

Angela Lang / CNET

You do not need the new Apple Watch Series 6 to take advantage of all the goodies in WatchOS 7, the latest software update for Apple’s smartwatches. The software is full of great and small features, like a 20-second hand wash function which automatically starts a countdown when it detects that you are washing your hands and one new dance training which tracks every step and calorie as you take a step.

But we want to show you three of our favorite add-ons and how to use them, including a new sleep tracker and an important change to look at faces. Read on for all the details (and here are some great, inexpensive accessories for your Apple Watch).

watchos-7 complications

This dial has several complications from the same app, something that is not possible on WatchOS 6.

Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

1. WatchOS no longer limits complications of the dial

What it is: Apple has allowed third-party developers and Apple Watch owners to place small pieces of information or complications on a dial for a while now. For example, you can have a dial that shows your daily agenda, the upcoming weather report from Dark Sky and a shortcut to the Messages app on your favorite – in addition to the current time. But until now, you have been limited to using only one complication from the same app on any dial.

Why it matters: Apple Watch owners and developers have wanted a way to place multiple complications from the same app on a dial. For example, you can see Dark Sky’s current temperature output and weekly forecast on the same face.






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How to use it: Editing your watches and adding complications is done the same way it always has, but with an improved interface that is easier to navigate. You can long press on a dial to enter edit mode, swipe left across the face, tap the complication location you want to edit, and then make your selection from the list. Alternatively, you can continue editing and creating dials from the Watch app on your iPhone ($ 699 on Amazon).

2. WatchOS 7 can track your sleep

What it is: A new sleep button on the Apple Watch not only tracks how long and well you sleep, but it also helps you settle down as your meal gets closer.

Why it matters: Fitbit and other competing fitness trackers have had built-in sleep tracking for several years, but the Apple Watch has lacked an official app. With the addition of sleep tracking, Apple Watch owners will have more data to take into account about their overall health.

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Sleep tracking – yes, that’s one thing now.

Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

How to use it: After updating to WatchOS 7, you need to set up the Sleep app, set your bedtime and a daily alarm. After the initial setting, your phone displays a scroll screen and activates Do Not Disturb at a certain time before your desired bedtime. At bedtime, your iPhone screen becomes weak and your watch switches to sleep mode. Effectively, the clock display will not light up and warnings will be paused in this mode. You must turn the digital crown to exit Hibernation.

Keep the watch on while you sleep and in the morning you can see how long you have slept directly on the watch. There is even a battery meter that reminds you to charge your watch in the morning.

Find and share custom dials

What it is: WatchOS 7 adds the ability for Apple Watch owners and app developers to create and share their own dials, including custom complication layouts and designs.

Why it matters: Instead of spending countless hours looking through dials and searching for apps with complications that you like, you will soon have access to countless new faces that come with a list of the apps you need to install to complete the look.

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Once you have found the face of a watch, you will be asked if you want to install all the necessary apps to complete the look.

Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

How to use it: Colleagues of Apple Watch owners will be able to post their favorite events online or send them directly to you via iMessage. Developers will be able to post direct links to their dials so you can install them as well.

When you tap a link to add the watch to the Watch app on your iPhone, you see a preview of it and then a list of the app complications used to create it is presented, complete with direct links to download those apps so that Your new face does not have empty complication spots.

To share a dial you created, either long press on a face to go to edit mode and then press the share button or open the Watch app on your iPhone and see your dials. Press the share button again and you will find a list of places where you can share your face.

Right now, it does not look like you can post a link to your face directly on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, you need to save your creation in a storage service like Dropbox or iCloud Drive and then share a link to that folder or file. Otherwise, you can send your faces via iMessage.

Haven’t installed WatchOS 7 yet? No sweat, we go through the process. If you’re curious about the Apple Watch Series 6, be sure to read through our ongoing review, it is updated with new goodies and information all the time. Once you have mastered your Apple Watch, read ours favorite hidden features in iOS 14.


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