Last year’s big update to the Apple Watch operating system brought a few serious improvements, but given how little changed with the Apple Watch 5, there wasn’t much room to introduce new features. That could change with watchOS 7, the next update likely coming with the Apple Watch 6.
Like with its other devices, Apple always pairs its Apple Watch releases with a big operating system update. But the timing is pretty much all we know about what’s coming with watchOS 7.
We’ll know more we’ll know better when the company teases its end-of-year updates at an online-only WWDC 2020 that is set for June 22. That’s when we’re also likely to get our first teases of the Apple Watch 6, which will suggest what we’re getting in watchOS 7.
In other words, we’ll list everything we absolutely know is coming in watchOS 7, followed by all the leaks and rumors we hear beforehand. Finally, we’ve got a list of what we’d really like to see.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The Apple Watch operating system’s next big software update
- When is it coming? Most likely in late September 2020
- How much will it cost? It will almost certainly be free
watchOS 7 beta and release date
Per precedent, it’s safe to say that the next annual watchOS update will come in late 2020 – most likely in September. That’s around when the Apple Watch launches tend to be, as well as the year’s new flagship phones such as the iPhone 12.
It’s also when every other Apple operating system update is fully revealed, and they, like the next watchOS, become available either on the day of or in the weeks following. Thus, somewhere between late September and October is a safe guess for watchOS 7’s release date.
We’re likely to hear about it earlier than that though as the company may tease upcoming features at its software conference WWDC 2020, which is set for June 22.
By now, we can safely say that watchOS 7 will be free, given that every Apple operating system update across its device range hasn’t cost users to upgrade. And while watchOS 6 wasn’t compatible with Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch 2, the company has been readily selling the Apple Watch 3 at a nice discount. So we fully expect watchOS 7 to work with the Apple Watch 3 and newer.
watchOS 7 features and leaks
Little is known about the watchOS 7 update, but one leak suggests it’ll only be compatible with four generations of the Apple Watch.
A report from The Verifier – that cites what he website calls trusted sources – has claimed the Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch 2 may miss out on the update in 2020.
It’s also thought the update will allow for older compatible Apple Watches to use the blood oxygen monitoring feature that has long been rumored for the smartwatch as well as far more intuitive sleep tracking.
watchOS 7: what we want to see
We still haven’t heard anything concrete about watchOS 7. Come early June, we’ll have concrete facts around watchOS 7. Until then, here’s what we’d like to see in Apple’s next big software update.
Better battery-saving options
Our biggest complaint with the Apple Watch 5: the battery doesn’t last long enough, rarely surpassing a single day. While you can turn on the Power Reserve mode to preserve capacity, that turns every feature off and just lists the time.
That’s a last resort, not a battery-saving strategy. We’d love to see one or more different sub-modes that allow for more nuance in keeping your Apple Watch alive longer. Heck, we’d even go for granular control in turning off power-sucking modes one-by-one (like, say, always-on display) as well as clarity in how much time that would buy you.
Speaking of better battery life, one of the reasons we’d like more of it is to wear our Apple Watches through the night – paired with advanced sleep tracking, of course. We’ve been clamoring for Apple-refined sleep monitoring capabilities for years, and are sure that there’s room to expand the smartwatch’s software to fit the need.
But perhaps Apple is waiting for different sensors in the Apple Watch 6 – in which case, we’ll keep waiting.
Device ‘leash’ alerts
One of our favorite things: plenty of Apple devices. One of our least favorite things: accidentally leaving those devices behind. We’d love if our Apple Watches and iPhones would be linked a little closer – like if we left our iPhone somewhere, our Apple smartphone would alert us.
The idea, of course, would be to put a digital ‘leash’ on our smartphones – which is one of if not the most important thing we carry on our persons these days. It would make a lot of sense to try predicting user behavior enough to the point where Apple’s device family keeps tabs on each other when we do not.
On-device biometric authentication
One of the more exciting things that could be coming to the Apple Watch 6 is Touch ID through the display. A patent surfaced that showed a wearable design that moves the antenna into the watch band, ostensibly to give more room within the smartwatch for something like a fingerprint scanner.
That would work with plenty of Touch ID-based services that Apple has continued to support for all the handsets that still rely on fingerprint identification – like the iPhone 8 and older. There’s always the dream that Apple finds a different way to introduce biometric authentication to the Apple Watch – like the wearer’s particular heartbeat.
More precision in fitness apps
We’ve loved using our Apple Watches for workouts, but there’s always more they could do. We’d love to see more automatic detection of workouts – no manual switching between different activities – and smarter rep tracking.