Sleep tracking is an area of health that Apple hasn’t yet formally moved into, but all signs point to that changing soon. iOS 13 saw the company build more advanced wellness tracking features into the Health app, Beddit was acquired by Apple a couple years ago, and very recently the App Store leaked evidence of a Sleep app that is (or was) in development for Apple Watch. But for the time being, anyone interested in sleep tracking with a Watch or iPhone needs a third-party app.
NapBot is one such app, a new debut from the maker of CardioBot that launched in recent weeks. NapBot applies CoreML to perform automatic sleep tracking when you’re wearing an Apple Watch to bed, the results of which you can then view in either the iPhone or Watch apps.
Geneva Moon exists mainly to provide a complication which displays an astronomically accurate representation of the moon. It takes advantage of the new ability in watchOS 6 for Watch apps to be offered independently of iOS counterparts, so you can download Geneva Moon directly from the Watch’s App Store and then install its complication on your watch face. Smith’s experience with this app inspired him to shift his focus from the aspects of watch faces that Apple doesn’t let developers customize, to the extensive areas that they can. He writes:
The Infograph face’s customizable areas. (Source: david-smith.org)
I have extensive control over what is shown here and for many of the watch faces, this area makes up the vast majority of the screen. Other than the design of the watch hands or appearance of the digital time numerals, I can do a whole lot with the complication tools I already have.
To that end, I’m starting a journey I’m calling Project Geneva, in which I’m going to see just how far I can push customizability and design of complications for the Apple Watch.
Though Apple doesn’t permit the distribution of third-party watch faces, by focusing on creating new complications that can be used across a variety of different first-party faces, Smith will provide users more flexibility in crafting each existing face to their own preferences and needs.
To a degree, third-party faces are already here. An entire watch face can’t be customized, but for those faces which are largely populated by complications – which many are – there exists enormous freedom for developers and users alike to craft their ideal watch face.
I can’t wait to see what new complications are spawned by Project Geneva, and hope other developers may take inspiration from Smith’s new initiative themselves.
The general expectation leading up to this year’s iPhone and Apple Watch debuts was that “boring” updates were in store. The iPhone, it was reported, would have an unattractive triple-camera system and little else in the way of improvements; some thought the Apple Watch might not get an update at all.
When Apple officially introduced its newdevices to the world, my own reactions were largely positive, though a little mixed. On paper, the latest iPhone and Apple Watch models offer less year-over-year improvements in quantity than Apple usually treats us to. But the advancements that are here – cameras and battery for the iPhone, always-on display for the Watch – are qualitatively huge.
Apple is really good at making two key things: revolutionary products and iterative ones. Every now and then the company creates something that’s truly transformative, a product with undeniable cultural impact. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad are classic picks, but more recently AirPods and the iPhone X deserve similar recognition. However, in-between these giants sit a lot of iterative updates, where existing products get a little bit better. Stacked against the culture-shakers these iterative updates are comparatively less exciting, but they’re almost always objectively better products than their predecessors.
The iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 lines aren’t revolutionary, but they may well be remembered as some of the best iterative products Apple has ever shipped.
My early impression, after just a few days with the iPhone 11 Pro and Watch Series 5, is that this year’s updates have the potential to stand out over time for one main reason: they give users what we’ve all been asking for.
With last year’s release of the Apple Watch Series 4, it felt as though Apple had finally reached a point of equilibrium on the hardware side of the device. The Series 4 brought the first physical redesign, thinning the Watch out and stretching its slightly larger screen to the corners. It packed a processor that finally felt overpowered rather than underpowered, and it kept the Apple Watch’s all-day battery life going strong. The update rounded out with added health sensors for ECGs, background heart monitoring, Bluetooth 5 support, and a new speaker system. Those advancements joined the cellular capabilities from the Series 3, and have now been joined by the always-on display of the Series 5. I’m running out of feature requests for the Apple Watch.
The hardware may now be in place, but as we all know hardware is only part of the story. On the software side, the Apple Watch found its footing two years ago, but had a lot of catching up to do to reach the level of maturity of its hardware. Iteration is Apple’s specialty, and their increasingly strong understanding of the Apple Watch’s purpose has made the software path clear. Last year’s watchOS 5 brought significant fitness and audio improvements, the addition of web content and more interactive notifications. This year’s update brings us even more.
watchOS 6 flew under the radar at the packed and exciting WWDC keynote this June. It isn’t the most flashy update, but the Apple Watch had enough flashy updates in its early years to last a while longer. This is a year for iteration, and Apple has been iterating on all cylinders. watchOS 6 is a quiet giant, adding or redesigning more first-party apps at once than we’ve seen in years, dropping the largest batch of new watch faces since watchOS 1, providing a new way to track fitness over time, and kicking off a nascent foray into Apple Watch independence. Let’s see how Apple did.
The Apple Watch Series 5 will go on sale this Friday, and the first reviews for the product are now being published. This year’s Watch update comes with a far shorter feature list than usual: it includes an always-on display, built-in compass, and expanded LTE bands that enable Emergency SOS even when traveling internationally. The prime focus of early reviews is, as expected, the Watch’s always-on display.
This morning at Apple’s special event at the Steve Jobs theater in Cupertino, Stan Ng took the stage to announce the Apple Watch Series 5. The new device features an always-on display for the first time ever, the same 18-hour battery life that every Apple Watch has had, and a built-in compass. The Series 5 is also the first Apple Watch to be available in titanium (alongside the standard aluminum, stainless steel, and ceramic).
I have reached the unfortunate conclusion that RECaf’s watch app will not be able to go fully independent this fall with the release of watchOS 6. While you have always been able to log from your wrist using the app or Siri shortcuts, I was hoping folks who didn’t want to keep RECaf installed on their phones would be able to continue using RECaf on their wrist.
There are simply too many things that can’t be done on watchOS alone at this point, however. So for now, you’ll have to keep that phone app installed.
Cieplinski outlines three main areas that independent Watch apps are currently lacking in their capabilities, two of which involve HealthKit limitations, while the third is that you can’t perform any kind of In-App Purchase on an independent Watch app, so unlocking pro features or a subscription plan is impossible without an iPhone companion.
These are significant drawbacks, not the type of edge cases that would be more understandable and expected for watchOS’ first take on stand-alone apps. App independence was the primary story Apple told for watchOS 6 at WWDC, but I suspect not many apps will be able to go independent until greater feature parity is achieved between independent apps and those still tethered to the iPhone.
Apple has disabled the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie app due to an unspecified vulnerability that could allow a person to listen to another customer’s iPhone without consent, the company told TechCrunch this evening.
Apple shared an official statement with TechCrunch:
We were just made aware of a vulnerability related to the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and have disabled the function as we quickly fix the issue. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and will restore the functionality as soon as possible. Although we are not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer and specific conditions and sequences of events are required to exploit it, we take the security and privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We concluded that disabling the app was the right course of action as this bug could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. We apologize again for this issue and the inconvenience.
Panzarino rightfully points out the parallels of this issue with the highly-publicized FaceTime bug from earlier this year. The one key difference: whereas with the FaceTime bug, when it was reported by a user, Apple didn’t respond or take action until the problem received widespread media attention; with this Walkie-Talkie bug, Apple followed up on a customer’s report and addressed the issue seemingly before anyone else knew about it. Hopefully this is the sign of improved processes inside the company for handling serious bugs and vulnerabilities.
Today at Apple’s annual WWDC keynote address in San Jose, California, Tim Cook took the stage to announce the latest update to Apple’s smartwatch operating system. watchOS 6 is coming this fall, and boasts a number of big changes. Most significantly, watchOS 6 makes progress on the independence of the Apple Watch from the iPhone, adds a number of new APIs and health features, and includes an all-new native UI framework for developers.