Hands-On With watchOS 7's Sleep Tracking, Watch Face Sharing and Handwashing Monitor

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watchOS 7, introduced last week and available for developers, is a significant update that introduces useful new Apple Watch features like sleep tracking and watch face sharing.


We went hands-on with watchOS 7 in our latest YouTube video to give MacRumors readers a preview of what's coming when the update launches later this year.

Apple still isn't allowing custom watch faces, but it did add more flexibility in watchOS 7. Multiple complications from a single app can be used on your watch face, so if you wanted to do something like set up a surfing themed watch face with info on swells, water temperature, and more all taken from one app, you can do so.


There are several Apple-created complications to add to the Apple Watch in watchOS 7 for accessing Shortcuts, the Camera Remote app, Moon phases, Sleep Tracking, and the World Clock.

There's also a new feature that allows for watch face sharing, so you can create useful watch faces and share them with friends and family over apps like Mail and Messages, or with a broader audience on the web. Apple also plans to highlight useful watch faces in the App Store.

Apple added a new Chronograph Pro watch face with a tachymeter, plus tweaked a few others. The Photos face supports color filters and the X-Large face works with complications.

Sleep Tracking lets the Apple Watch be worn at night to track how much sleep you're getting, with sleep habits over time visible in the Health app on the iPhone. The Apple Watch's sleep tracking doesn't provide detailed data on metrics like deep sleep or light sleep, but it does come alongside Sleep Mode, Wind Down, and alarm features to maximize how much sleep you're getting.


Sleep Mode turns the Apple Watch's display off and activates Do Not Disturb while you're asleep, and it can be set to come on automatically based on the sleep schedule programmed into the watch. Wind Down works with your own pre-bedtime preferences and can do things like suggest that you open a meditation app or turn down the lights as you get ready to sleep. In the morning, the Apple Watch can wake you up with a haptic alarm, greeting you in the morning with a weather report.

To make sure you have enough battery, the Apple Watch provides notifications when it needs to be charged above 30 percent before bedtime, and if you're charging in the morning while you get ready for the day, you'll see an alert on your phone letting you know when the Apple Watch has a full charge.

Sleep tracking battery drain isn't too bad, and in our experience it drained about 30 percent throughout the night, something that Apple may be able to improve over the beta testing period.

Along with sleep tracking, Apple introduced a new handwashing monitoring feature that helps people wash their hands for the recommended 20 second duration. When the Apple Watch detects handwashing motions and the sound of running water, it starts up a 20 second countdown.


Apple renamed the "Activity" app to "Fitness" in watchOS 7 and added new workouts that include Dance, Functional Strength Training, Core Training, and Cool Downs, and it provides more data post workout.

iOS 14 features like cycling directions for bike riders and EV routes for electric vehicle owners have been added, Siri can offer spoken translations, Siri requests are now faster with on-device dictation, and there are new hearing health features to better protect your hearing when listening to music.

watchOS 7 is limited to developers at the current time, but Apple plans to release a watchOS 7 beta for public beta testers for the first time. watchOS software can't be downgraded, so when the public beta software releases, beta testers will still want to use caution before installing.

After a few months of beta testing to work out bugs and streamline new features, watchOS 7 will see a public release this fall alongside iOS 14.

Article Link: Hands-On With watchOS 7's Sleep Tracking, Watch Face Sharing and Handwashing Monitor
 
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joeblough

macrumors 6502
Sep 30, 2006
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any idea if apple’s sleep tracking stuff interferes with apps like SleepWatch and AutoSleep which provide a wealth of sleep info?
 

QCassidy352

macrumors G4
Mar 20, 2003
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Bay Area
WatchOS 7 was the most disappointing part of the keynote because it’s such an immature OS compared to iOS or macOS, but they added nothing I’d even consider using. No custom/third party watch faces, no iPhone independence, nothing even marginally interesting. Just more “features” that nag you like the parents of a disobedient toddler.
 

bag99001

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2015
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When you say watch faces on the App Store does that mean new watch faces or simply versions of existing ones setup with the complications in a specific way they you might like? I can’t for the life of me figure out why they won’t simply do a digital modular face with as many complication options as the analog.
 

FloatingBones

macrumors 65816
Jul 19, 2006
1,284
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WatchOS 7 was the most disappointing part of the keynote because it’s such an immature OS compared to iOS or macOS, but they added nothing I’d even consider using. No custom/third party watch faces, no iPhone independence, nothing even marginally interesting. Just more “features” that nag you like the parents of a disobedient toddler.
If that's the way you feel, you should definitely wash your hands of this version.
 

HiVolt

macrumors 6502a
Sep 29, 2008
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Toronto, Canada
Why can't they just allow custom faces... allow devs to make custom faces. Approve them just the same way as you do apps, so there's no blatant copyright infringement of brand names.

Watch Face sharing seems so utterly stupid as an idea. They're grasping at straws, literally. The "new" faces they keep introducing are ridiculous for most people.
 

dwsolberg

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2003
725
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WatchOS 7 was the most disappointing part of the keynote because it’s such an immature OS compared to iOS or macOS, but they added nothing I’d even consider using. No custom/third party watch faces, no iPhone independence, nothing even marginally interesting. Just more “features” that nag you like the parents of a disobedient toddler.
I get what you're saying, but I think Apple may be doing the right thing here. When they first started they made a watch with all these features that nobody used. Now I think they're concentrating on making the features people do use to be the best possible ones. I can't say I'm not disappointed, but it's probably the right move. On a brighter note I think they also made the watch faster in a lot of ways.
 

Gentile

macrumors regular
Apr 29, 2007
195
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Ohio
When you say watch faces on the App Store does that mean new watch faces or simply versions of existing ones setup with the complications in a specific way they you might like? I can’t for the life of me figure out why they won’t simply do a digital modular face with as many complication options as the analog.
Yes this is so frustrating! I don't understand why in 2020 they can't put a large digital time right in the middle of the watch face with small complications around it. This was something they did at the beginning of digital watches with the time in the middle and things like the date that is smaller above it on the edge of the screen. The modular watch face is the closest that I found to this (on Series 3) but you can't put the time in the middle in a large font. It is forced to be on the top right in a smaller font.

If there is current watch face that does this please let me know.
 

felixen

macrumors 6502a
Apr 13, 2009
781
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WatchOS 7 was the most disappointing part of the keynote because it’s such an immature OS compared to iOS or macOS, but they added nothing I’d even consider using. No custom/third party watch faces, no iPhone independence, nothing even marginally interesting. Just more “features” that nag you like the parents of a disobedient toddler.
I agree watchOS 7 seems underwhelming, but I do think it’s great that apps can now offer multiple complications and that you can use Shortcuts as complications. That should be quite useful
 
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Rychiar

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May 16, 2006
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All I want is the photo face enhanced with the ability to move the time to the middle, change the font and add corner complications. then I'd be happy
 

minimo3

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2010
442
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If Apple isn’t going to allow custom watch faces at least release a slew of new 1st party faces with each release. WatchOS 7’s has just 1 new face. C’mon we had at least 3-4 new faces with every other WatchOS release.
 

ericg301

macrumors 65816
Jun 15, 2010
1,351
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Exactly this. I don’t need my watch to tell me I haven’t had enough sleep!
the more data the better.

a few years ago, i noticed that my resting heart rate overnight had shot up. it avg'ed 55 bpm, but one night it was in the 70s. next day i came down with the flu.

my watch knew my body was fighting an infection before i felt it.

now i realize there's not much i could actually do with that data, but after that, my POV is the more data the merrier. it's interesting to look at sleep patterns based on various variables. dinner after 8pm? less sleep. alcohol in the evening? fall asleep sooner but woke up often throughout the night. determine how my sleep is impacted by exercise in the AM or PM. or the biggest for me was realizing that my go-to sleep aid had zero affect on my amount of sleep, even if it helped me fall asleep faster.
 

cmaier

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Why can't they just allow custom faces... allow devs to make custom faces. Approve them just the same way as you do apps, so there's no blatant copyright infringement of brand names.

Watch Face sharing seems so utterly stupid as an idea. They're grasping at straws, literally. The "new" faces they keep introducing are ridiculous for most people.
It's coming. The new widget kit has explicit hooks in it for creating watch faces. That will likely be how they allow it to be done in watchos 8
 
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HiVolt

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It's coming. The new widget kit has explicit hooks in it for creating watch faces. That will likely be how they allow it to be done in watchos 8
Jeez, I hope you're right. hopefully they have some way of just taking data from complications, and not their design, into custom complications on the custom watch faces...
 
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CarlJ

macrumors 601
Feb 23, 2004
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Yes this is so frustrating! I don't understand why in 2020 they can't put a large digital time right in the middle of the watch face with small complications around it. This was something they did at the beginning of digital watches with the time in the middle and things like the date that is smaller above it on the edge of the screen.
Yeah, I’m frustrated by the current watch faces as well. I’d like something with digital time as HH:MM, a row of 60 dots around the very edge counting up the seconds, and some space in between for complications. I’d like a small analog face complication (hour/minute hands). I’d like to see a really decent non-traditional analog/digital face (the hour and minute numbers tell the the precise time, the hour and minute hands tell me the shape of the time - “it’s about this much until X” - faster than one can reason about it by mentally decoding the digital time).

I’d like a face with a large digital time in the middle of a 24 hour analog display (like a curved bar graph), that starts at the bottom - a graph of how far through the day we are. The Solar Dial face goes vaguely in this direction, but with light blue markings on a slightly less light blue background - WTF? I never use it because it’s so hard to glance at and come away knowing the time. Watches that fail that test aren’t worth much.

I’d like the analog faces to have an option to float the complications over the damn hands - on a mechanical analog watch, it was a necessary evil that the hands sometimes obscure the complications - on a smart watch, having the complications obscured by the hands is completely and utterly ludicrous. It’s slavishly implementing the failings of a mechanical watch, making the experience worse, just to make it more familiar. The hands could go semi-transparent as they pass over the complications, or the complications could float over the hands.

As it is, there are faces that offer to show you the date, but you can’t see the date for about 5 minutes, at 15 minutes after every hour, or for about half an hour, twice a day at 3 o’clock. How is this considered reasonable? On a mechanical watch, it’s a concession to the hardware. On a smart watch, it’s making things worse on purpose.

And Apple doesn’t need to open a watch face store, or they can do it and make it near impossible to pass the submission process - just make a WatchFaceKit API, and I’ll write my own watch faces, just for my own use.
 
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ipedro

macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
5,172
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Toronto, ON
On-board Siri processing will change everything. Being unable to lift your wrist and get Siri to dictate in real time as you're speaking leads to unreliable results. And when things are unreliable, people just stop using them.

Basic commands like volume and playback control, setting a timer or starting a workout shouldn't require connectivity.
 

cmaier

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Jeez, I hope you're right. hopefully they have some way of just taking data from complications, and not their design, into custom complications on the custom watch faces...
I don’t think so. I imagine the complication will just be plugged in as-is, though it could be that *certain* things are universally-parameterisable (background colors, etc.). SwiftUI allows that, but we’ll see what the apple gods permit.
- - Post merged: - -

Yeah, I’m frustrated by the current watch faces as well. I’d like something with digital time as HH:MM, a row of 60 dots around the very edge counting up the seconds, and some space in between for complications. I’d like a small analog face complication (hour/minute hands). I’d like to see a really decent non-traditional analog/digital face (the hour and minute numbers tell the the precise time, the hour and minute hands tell me the shape of the time - “it’s about this much until X” - faster than one can reason about it by mentally decoding the digital time).

I’d like a face with a large digital time in the middle of a 24 hour analog display (like a curved bar graph), that starts at the bottom - a graph of how far through the day we are. The Solar Dial face goes vaguely in this direction, but with light blue markings on a slightly less light blue background - WTF? I never use it because it’s so hard to glance at and come away knowing the time. Watches that fail that test aren’t worth much.

I’d like the analog faces to have an option to float the complications over the damn hands - on a mechanical analog watch, it was a necessary evil that the hands sometimes obscure the complications - on a smart watch, having the complications obscured by the hands is completely and utterly ludicrous. It’s slavishly implementing the failings of a mechanical watch, making the experience worse, just to make it more familiar. The hands could go semi-transparent as they pass over the complications, or the complications could float over the hands.

And Apple doesn’t need to open a watch face store, or they can do it and make it near impossible to pass the submission process - just make a WatchFaceKit API, and I’ll write my own watch faces, just for my own use.
I’ve been jonesing for a word clock for years. For now I’ve settled on solar dial, which i quite like, but you can bet as soon as they allow watch faces from third parties i am going to write 10 or 20 of my own for my own use.
 
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BigPrince

macrumors 68020
Dec 27, 2006
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I want the sleep app to wake me at the optimal time.
I want my complications to be change automatically based on the time of day. I don't care what the stock market closed at after 5pm but do want to know when the sun will set.
 

cmaier

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I want the sleep app to wake me at the optimal time.
I want my complications to be change automatically based on the time of day. I don't care what the stock market closed at after 5pm but do want to know when the sun will set.
I expect the same AI that is used for widget stacks on iOS will let watch faces change automatically in watchos8.
 
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