Apple introduces new Health and Fitness features via iOS 14 and watchOS 7

watchOS 7 health and fitness

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that health could be an area where Apple makes a big play in an interview with CNBC in 2019.

“If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question: ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind,’ it will be about health,” he said.”

Related reading:

watchOS 7 and iOS 14–more health-centric than ever!

Tim and Company have provided glimpses today into their thinking about health and fitness with the launch of the new iOS 14 and watchOS 7.

if you thought ‘Fall detection’ revolutionized Apple’s positioning in health in the Series 4 back in 2018 or the introduction of Heart monitoring (ECG), watchOS 7 (and iOS/iPadOS 14) shows us that Apple is in for a long term play in health and fitness management.

Key features include sleep-tracking, handwashing detection, advanced cycling information, dance as workouts, and a new headphones/earphone hearing health tool to measure your sound exposure and hearing abilities.

Apple Maps Cycling feature

Apple has improved the Apple maps app considerably. Now for cyclists, the app introduces experiences around various map features that provide you with robust information.

This info includes traffic volumes on the road, uphill information (notifications that an uphill route segment is coming up), and more.

Apple automatically integrates this elevation information into the Apple maps app.

Apple watch cycling

Cycling directions, time, elevation changes, and turn by turn have been included in Maps on Apple Watch. You can also get bike repair shop information.

The wearer can choose a route that avoids steep hills, gets to the destination the quickest, or takes the most direct path.

Improvements in the Workout app

Apple has included a new ‘Dance’ workout in the workout app.

By combining data from gyroscope, accelerometer, and heart rate data, the app keeps track of your calories and heart rate.

You can choose from various dance routines and start your workout.

New Fitness App

The activity app is getting replaced with a more solid Fitness app on the Apple Watch with watchOS 7 that comes preconfigured with rich screens that show all your workout metrics, history of workout activity, and more.

watchOS 7 now brings four exciting new workout types supported by powerful heart rate and custom-built motion algorithms: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cooldown.

Sleep Monitoring

Sleep monitoring on iOS 14 AND WATCHos 7

With watchOS 7, Apple Watch introduces sleep tracking, taking a holistic approach to sleep by providing valuable tools to help users get the desired amount of sleep, get to bed on time, and create a pre-bedtime routine to meet their sleep goals.

Through the detection of micro-movements from the watch’s accelerometer, which signals respiration during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently captures when the wearer is sleeping and how much sleep they get each night.

Apple now offers a wind-down feature. Your phone will display the wind-down screen on your phone and automatically turn on do not disturb.

Once it’s time to wake up, you have a choice of a gentle alarm or set up your alarms.

Apple Watch uses a machine learning model to track movements during sleep and keeps precise records of REM and other important sleep-related metrics.

Depending on personal charging behavior, if the battery is too low within an hour of bedtime, Apple Watch will remind users to charge it ahead of sleep.

Sleep data is encrypted on the device or in iCloud with iCloud sync, and data is always in the user’s control.

Hearing Improvements

watchOS 7 adds further support for hearing health with headphone audio notifications.

Customers can now understand how loudly they are listening to media through their headphones using their iPhone, iPod touch, or Apple Watch, and when these levels may impact hearing over time.

New Mobility Metrics

New Mobility Metrics available in the Health app include: low-range cardio fitness, walking speed, stair-descent speed, stair-ascent speed, six-minute walk distance, double support time, step length, and asymmetry.

These metrics are important for the clinical community to monitor patients’ ability to move safely and easily as they age.

Hand Washing

hand washing well done or thumbs up message on Apple Watch

Apple watch uses machine learning to detect motion when you wash your hands and listens to audio to make sure you are washing hands correctly.

It keeps track of your handwashing habits and times the activity to make sure that you are following the process correctly.

A good reminder during these days of Covid-19.

New multiple Complications on Apple

WatchDevelopers now have the ability to offer more than one complication per app on a single watch face.

For example, on one watch face, Glow Baby can display multiple complications that help new parents track bottle-feeding, breastfeeding, pumping statistics, and nap times, while Dawn Patrol can show surfers tide, wind speed, and water temperature from a favorite surf spot.

This is indeed an exciting time for wearables and personal sensor-based devices. Apple fans are not being left behind.

Although other smart devices such as Fitbit, Garmin, and Xiaomi introduced SpO2 monitoring and blood pressure monitoring, Apple’s thinking clearly shows why they don’t have to be the first but instead be the BEST in how these features are introduced to users.

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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