How watchOS 10 is going to give your Apple Watch a makeover

The next big software update for Apple Watch, watchOS 10, will roll out this fall. Apple gave us a sneak peek of watchOS 10 earlier this month at WWDC, and as you’d expect, it promises to bring a new look and new capabilities to your current Apple Watch. There will be new watch faces, updated app designs, and a host of new features (especially for hikers and cyclists).

The most significant update, however, is that widgets will be available on Apple Watch for the first time. This means you’ll be able to quickly see more information from more of the apps you use every day just by looking at your wrist.

Meet the Smart Stack

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Apple

iPhone users are probably familiar with the “Smart Stack” as Apple introduced it several years ago with iOS 14. Essentially, it’s a widget that lives on your home screen that “stacks” multiple apps on top of each other and lets you easily swipe or swipe between them, accessing their information without actually having to open the app. When watchOS 10 launches, you’ll be able to have a similar Smart Stack live on your Apple Watch’s home screen.

You can have up to 10 apps built into a Smart Stack on your Apple Watch; initially, only Apple’s apps (such as Weather, Maps, Messages, Activities, and World Clock) will be available, but third-party developers will be able to update their own apps so they can be integrated. One of the great things about the Smart Stack is that it learns your habits over time and then displays certain apps on your Apple Watch at different times of day.

You can scroll through them in two ways: by swiping with the digital crown or by swiping up the face with your finger. (Note: the way you access Control Center on your Apple Watch will change. Instead of swiping up from the bottom of the watch face, which is now one way to scroll through the Smart Stack, you’ll access it by pressing the side button on your Apple Watch.)

A better bike computer

apple watch 10

Apple

apple watch 10

Apple

If you’re a cyclist who trains with the Apple Watch, watchOS 10 will offer some key features that make it work more like a real cycling computer.

First, there’s a new “Live Activity” view that works in tandem with your Apple Watch and iPhone. When you start a cycling workout on your Apple Watch, a new “Live Activity” will also appear on your iPhone; you’ll be able to mount your iPhone to your bike’s handlebars and see multiple workout metrics (like heart rate zones, altitude, pedaling speed, and distance) as you ride. So there’s less need to lift your wrist to get a glimpse of your performance.

Second, watchOS 10 promises to support a variety of third-party accessories like power meters and speed sensors for the first time. This will allow the Apple Watch to access more data and more metrics (such as pedaling power and cadence) and therefore show cyclists more accurate information about their training.

A most useful hiking companion

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apple watch 10

Apple

Hikers who wear an Apple Watch will also benefit from watchOS 10. The most significant update has to do with maps. For the first time, you’ll be able to download maps to your Apple Watch for offline viewing. You’ll also be able to see new topographical maps to help you get a better sense of the 3D landscapes.

The Compass app is also getting some updates. There will be a new “Elevation” view that will also help give you a more 3D view of your landscapes; it will also display your waypoints at their various elevations. And the Compass app will automatically generate two waypoints: one (called “Last Cellular Connected”) where you last received cellular service, and one (called “Last Distress Called”) that estimates where on your route you’ll be able to make an emergency call.

A faster way to share contacts

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Apple

The hottest feature coming to your iPhone with iOS 17 is NameDrop, and it’s also coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 10. Just like with your iPhone, you’ll be able to use your Apple Watch to share your contact information (such as your your name and telephone number); all you have to do is bring your Apple Watch in close proximity to someone else with an Apple Watch or iPhone and boom it is shared.

NameDrop promises to work much like Handoff, which is a feature for quickly transferring the music you’re playing on your iPhone to your HomePod (or HomePod mini) when they’re close to each other.

Which Apple Watch models will support watchOS 10?

To take advantage of these new features you will need both an Apple Watch AND an iPhone capable of running the latest software. This means you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4 (released in 2018) or newer. And you’ll need an iPhone XS or iPhone XR (both released in 2018) or newer. Any older model of Apple Watch or iPhone will not support watchOS 10 and iOS 17, respectively.

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