Apple Unveils watchOS 11 with Enhanced Health and Workout Features

Credits: Apple

Apple’s watchOS 11 was officially unveiled at WWDC 2024, providing a comprehensive look at the future of wearable computing for Apple Watch users next year.

The update introduces new activity and wellness features, along with updates that deliver the most relevant information at a glance. A redesigned Photos watch face is expected to be particularly popular.

As the software likely to accompany the Apple Watch Series 10 (and possibly Apple Watch Ultra 3), watchOS 11 warrants attention and is available to developers today. Whether you’re curious about compatibility with older Apple Watches or the impact of the new features, here’s what we know about this year’s software refresh.

watchOS 11: Quick Guide

Training Load:
This feature provides a comprehensive view of how your workout intensity affects your body over time. Using a new algorithm, it translates sensor data into effort ratings, helping you gauge whether you’re ready to push harder or need to ease up.

Rest Day from Rings:
You can now customize the summary tab in the fitness app to display the most relevant information and take a day off from closing your rings without affecting your awards progress. Additionally, you can adjust your Ring goals based on the day of the week.

New Vitals App:
The Vitals app offers a snapshot of your health metrics, including weekly trends. It notifies you of significant changes in your health, providing better context for your overall well-being.

Improved Pregnancy Tracking:
The Cycle Tracking app now displays gestational age and allows users to log pregnancy-related symptoms when a pregnancy is recorded.

Enhanced Smart Stack:
Smart Stack now includes more intuitive widgets, such as translation assistance in a new country or weather forecasts when rain is expected. Live Activities for apps like Uber are now supported in Smart Stack.

Expanded Check In:
Check In functionality is now available on Apple Watch, allowing you to monitor your check-in status from your Smart Stack. You can also set a Check In directly from the workout app.

Translation App:
The new Translation app for Apple Watch provides easy access to translations for 20 supported languages right on your wrist.

Tap to Cash:
Featured in iOS 18, Tap to Cash enables users to send and receive Apple Cash by simply holding their Apple Watch near another Apple Watch or iPhone.

Double Tap API:
App developers can now utilize Double Tap, a feature available on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2.

Redesigned Photos Watch Face:
The new Photos watch face uses machine learning to curate the best photos from your library for your watch face, framing the clock around your selected image.

watchOS 11: Announcement and Release Date

watchOS 11 was unveiled at WWDC 2024 on June 10, alongside iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and the latest macOS version.

Following WWDC, a developer beta version of watchOS 11 is expected to be released. Based on previous years, the public beta will likely be available for optional download in July.

Historically, the full release of watchOS 11 is anticipated in September, likely within a few weeks of the Apple Watch Series 10 announcement.

watchOS 11: Supported Apple Watch Models

This year marks the end of update support for the Apple Watch Series 4, which is powered by a processor that’s roughly six years old. In the fast-paced world of mobile technology, that’s considered ancient. Surprisingly, the Apple Watch Series 5 won’t be compatible with watchOS 11 either. This decision may seem unexpected, but it’s likely influenced by the significant processor upgrade in the Apple Watch Series 6, which probably set the eligibility criteria.

Naturally, certain watchOS 11 features will be exclusive to Apple Watch models with always-on displays, newer health sensors, and larger displays. It wouldn’t be surprising if there are updates tailored specifically for the Apple Watch Ultra lineup as well. Here’s the complete list of watchOS 11-compatible models:

  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 8
  • Apple Watch Series 9
  • Apple Watch SE (2020)
  • Apple Watch SE (2022)
  • Apple Watch Ultra
  • Apple Watch Ultra 2

watchOS 11: Training Load & Activity Ring Pausing

While there haven’t been many alterations to activity and fitness features in watchOS 11, Apple has at last answered a long-standing user request with the introduction of Training Load.

Training Load is a novel metric designed to gauge how your workout intensity impacts your body over time. Through a new algorithm on the Apple Watch, sensor data and health parameters are translated into an effort rating, which in turn determines your training progress. This feature informs you whether it’s time to push further or to ease off.

Additionally, you can now take a much-needed break from your activity rings. The Pause Activity Rings feature enables you to skip a day of closing your rings without jeopardizing your awards progress.

watchOS 11: Vital Signs App

Despite its advanced health capabilities, the Apple Watch lacked a unified Health app providing an overview of health trends. However, with the introduction of the Vitals app, users now have a centralized hub for comprehending the impact of various indicators like activity, sleep, and heart rate on their health.

Moreover, the Vitals app is designed to alert users when concerning health trends arise. For instance, consecutive nights of poor sleep could signal an underlying issue that needs attention.

watchOS 11: Enhancements to Smart Stack

The hallmark feature of watchOS 10, Smart Stack, receives significant updates in watchOS 11. It will now intelligently curate your Smart Stack to prioritize the most relevant information at the top. For instance, if rain is expected soon, the forecast widget will lead the stack, and when traveling abroad, a location-based translation widget may be prompted. (Yes, the Translation app debuts on Apple Watch with watchOS 11.)

But that’s not all — Smart Stack now facilitates Check In management, allowing Check Ins to be initiated from the workout app, handy for late-night solo runs. Additionally, other Live Activities from iPhone will be mirrored in the Smart Stack in watchOS 11.

watchOS 11: Redesigned Photos Watch Face

In each new watchOS iteration, we usually anticipate the unveiling of fresh watch faces. However, watchOS 11 takes a slightly different approach, offering just one new face, albeit a redesigned version of a beloved classic. The Photos watch face undergoes a complete modernization, leveraging machine learning technology.

Now, your watch will suggest optimal photos from your library to serve as your watch face. These selections are intelligently framed with the time, and you can further customize the look with various color filters.

watchOS 11: Double Tap (API)

Distinct from the established accessibility gestures inherent to the Apple Watch, the double tap feature is driven by a machine learning algorithm, made feasible by the enhanced processor found in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. This algorithm utilizes data from the watch’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor to recognize when the double tap gesture—tapping the thumb and index finger of your watch hand together twice—is activated.

Initially, double tap functionality was limited to specific native Apple Watch apps. However, with the launch of watchOS 11, Apple is introducing a Double Tap API, enabling developers to incorporate double tap capabilities into their own third-party apps.