Apple has a variety of new watch faces built into watchOS 5. A couple are exclusive to the new Series 4 Watch, but older models will still have access to faces like Fire and Water, Vapor, and Liquid Metal. What you may not know about these faces is that they were all created using practical effects. Josh Rubin at Cool Hunting writes:
Talking to Alan Dye, Vice President of User Interface Design at Apple, about this particular project he shared that “it’s more of a story about the design team. We could have done this digitally, but we shot this all in a studio. It’s so indicative of how the design team works—bringing our best and varied talents together to create these faces.” Surely it would have been cheaper to just render fire, water, liquid metal and vapor, but this is what makes Apple special—putting in the time and effort to do something right and real might only be noticed directly by a few, but is certainly felt by all.
To see this watch face project in action, check out the behind-the-scenes video below.
watchOS had a bumpy first few years. Some poor decisions and perhaps a premature initial launch forced significant design changes to be in order right away. It wasn't until last year's watchOS 4 release that it finally felt like the waters had calmed. Apple seemed to have solidified the brunt of its focus around fitness and audio, while also debuting a healthy backdrop of first-party apps, new watch faces, and machine learning features. The Siri watch face was the big addition for both of those last two categories, and while its initial introduction was underwhelming, the ideas behind it were intriguing. The redesigned Workout and Music apps along with background audio during workouts were excellent additions to the Apple Watch's core foundation. All things considered, Apple pushed a great update last year, and it only got better as the year progressed.
While it didn't ship in time for watchOS 4's launch in September, streaming from Apple Music was released late the next month in watchOS 4.1. The ability to stream music in the background during workouts freed runners and other athletes from being tied to their phones while they exercised. Paired with the redesigned Workout app – which put live statistics front and center while keeping Now Playing and workout controls just a swipe away – watchOS 4 established a truly better fitness experience for Apple's smartwatch.
The audio story that Apple told last year felt much less complete. Despite receiving a significant amount of attention in Apple's marketing efforts, the Apple Watch's music improvements seemed almost strictly geared toward workouts. Background audio was limited to workout apps and withheld from the platform as a whole, the first-party Now Playing screen continued to monopolize possession of volume controls, and the Music app only gave manual access to preselected songs instead of the full music library on your iPhone1. Audio on the Apple Watch had received some strong improvements, but the scope of those positive consequences felt unnecessarily limited.
Thankfully, Apple seems to agree. This year's watchOS 5 update, released today for all Apple Watches Series 1 and later, fills in the gaps of the watchOS audio feature set. Third-party audio apps can now run in the background, and full audio controls including volume adjustment via the Digital Crown have been made available to them. watchOS 5 also introduces the first-party Podcasts app, which supports automatic syncing of new episodes that you're subscribed to and streaming of any show in the iTunes podcast directory.
Beyond audio, watchOS 5 also builds on the solid fitness foundation with activity competitions, expanded Workout types, automatic workout detection, and advanced running statistics. Siri has continued to receive attention as well, introducing third-party integrations to the Siri watch face and a raise-to-speak feature which truncates the inveterate "Hey Siri" prefix for the first time on any platform. A new Walkie-Talkie app marks the first return to novelty Apple Watch communication methods since Digital Touch, but this time I think Apple might have tapped into a legitimate, albeit niche use case. Top things off with improved notifications, the introduction of web content, and NFC-powered student ID cards and we have a substantial watchOS update on our hands.
“The clues for the future are when you can have a high degree of confidence that you personally are connected to the Net — not your phone, you,” said Ive.
The addition of a cellular radio to the Series 3 made a big difference in freeing the Watch from the iPhone. This year, I expect the difference will be felt more on the software side as developers implement apps that take advantage of the new watchOS 5 APIs.
Despite the Series 3’s cellular radio, I almost always took my iPhone with me for runs because I wanted to listen to podcasts. More than anything else, the ability to listen to my favorite shows untethered has the potential to free me from my iPhone.
This morning at Apple's annual September event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park, Jeff Williams took the stage to announce the Apple Watch Series 4. The new Watch lineup boasts larger and thinner chassis, more than 30% larger displays with rounded corners, a breakthrough ECG sensor, and more.
This is the first major change to the shape of the Watch's enclosure since the debut of the original Apple Watch, but thankfully Apple has maintained compatibility with existing watch bands. The new models will be sold in 40mm and 44mm varieties, each size 2mm larger than the 38mm and 42mm of previous generations. Stainless steel and aluminum varieties are offered as usual, but it looks like we've seen the end of the "Edition" Apple Watch line.
On the software side, the larger Apple Watch models are launching with a swath of new watch faces. Many of these faces take advantage of the new increased screen size by allowing a greater number of complications than we've seen on any face before. According to Apple the entire operating system has been revamped to take advantage of the new screen with its curved edges. These changes will ship in watchOS 5 on the new Series 4 Watch. There's no word yet on whether all or any of the new faces will make appearances on older models of Apple Watch – they have not been included in any watchOS 5 beta builds thus far.
Over the course of the Stanford study, stories have surfaced of instances where it discovered dangerous Afib conditions that were undiagnosed before. One such recent story comes from ZDNet writer Jason Perlow. A self-described Apple critic, Perlow purchased a refurbished Series 2 Nike+ Apple Watch earlier this year to test it.
Skeptical about whether the device would be something he would use much, Perlow nonetheless signed up for the Heart Study. Within a few days, Perlow received a notification asking him to contact a doctor at Stanford. The Heart Study app had detected signs of previously-undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. Perlow had the condition treated by a team of heart specialists, but as he concludes:
I owe my life to my Apple Watch. Because it started this whole machine rolling. And I was very lucky to have my Afib caught during the last three months of public enrollment in the Heart Study, which ended in early August.
I participated in the Heart Study too. Like Perlow, I forgot about it for long stretches. I’m fortunate that I didn’t receive the sort of alert Perlow did, but in September, Stanford sent me a notification that my participation in the study was ending. It turns out that over the course of 188 days, Stanford collected 1,743 heart measurements from me. Multiply that by the thousands of people in the study, and the potential the Apple Watch has for medical research is remarkable, while at the same time helping individuals like Perlow one at a time.
Apple is celebrating US National Parks by donating $1 for every purchase made in an Apple Store, on apple.com, and at its retail locations in the US from August 24th through 31st to the National Park Foundation.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO said:
“America’s national parks are treasures everyone should experience, and we’re proud to support them again this month by donating a dollar for every purchase made with Apple Pay at one of our stores,” said Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. “These awe-inspiring places are our national inheritance, and Apple is doing our part to pass them on to future generations — just as extraordinary, beautiful and wild as we found them.”
In addition to the its fundraising efforts, Apple has announced a fitness challenge for September 1st. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Redwood National Park, Apple Watch users who log a 50 minute workout that day will earn a special award in the Activity app and stickers that can be used in the Messages app. The App Store also plans to feature apps for discovering the US national park system.
Alongside the release of an updated WWDC app earlier today, Apple announced that developers attending the conference next week are invited to participate in an exclusive Activity challenge where they can earn a special reward.
Earn points each day, from Sunday, June 3 at 12:00 a.m. to Thursday, June 7 at 11:59 p.m., by wearing your Apple Watch and closing your Activity rings. Simply download the Challenges app on iPhone and allow Challenges to access Health app data, which includes data from your Activity rings. Work as a team of four with fellow WWDC18 attendees to earn as many points as you can. If everyone on your team closes their rings that day, you'll get team bonus points (in addition to individual bonus points). Individuals who earn 200 points or more during the challenge will receive a reward on Friday, June 8 at McEnery Convention Center.
The Challenges app referenced has previously been used by Apple for internal employee fitness challenges, but this is the first time the company has utilized it with a broader group of participants.
You might’ve noticed that the person who took your order at the bar, brought you the shoes you wanted to try on, or perhaps even patted you down at the airport security line, is sporting an Apple Watch, which starts at $329 for the newest Series 3 watch. And there’s a pretty simple explanation: Many service-industry jobs where employees have to be on their feet all day don’t allow workers to check their phones while they’re on the clock. But that rule doesn’t necessarily apply to a piece of unobtrusive jewelry that happens to let you text your friends and check the weather.
Quartz spoke with airline attendants, bartenders, waiters, baristas, shop owners, and (very politely) TSA employees who all said the same thing: The Apple Watch keeps them in touch when they can’t be on their phones at work. Apple has increasingly been pushing the watch as a health device, and seems to have moved away from marketing it as one that offers more basic utility, as Apple continues do with the iPhone. But given that roughly 23% of the US labor force works in wholesale or retail operations, perhaps it’s a market Apple should reconsider.
While I obviously hope Apple continues to improve the Watch as a health and fitness accessory, I would love to see new ways to triage and customize notifications too – especially when it comes to more granular controls for Do Not Disturb and notification mirroring on the iPhone. I have my fingers crossed for improvements in iOS 12.
"There's something in your latest scan that we need to double check."
Here's what I've learned about cancer as a survivor: even once you're past it, and despite doctors' reassurances that you should go back to your normal life, it never truly leaves you. It clings to the back of your mind and sits there, quietly. If you're lucky, it doesn't consume you, but it makes you more aware of your existence. The thought of it is like a fresh scar – a constant reminder of what happened. And even a simple sentence spoken with purposeful vagueness such as "We need to double check something" can cause that dreadful background presence to put your life on hold again.