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Posts tagged with "watchOS 5"

Electrocardiogram App and Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications Available Today

At Apple’s September keynote the company introduced the Series 4 Apple Watch. Among the features announced was a preview of the ability to generate an electrocardiogram or ECG within thirty seconds by placing a finger on the Digital Crown. At the time, Apple said the ECG functionality would ship in a software update ‘later this year.’

Today, with the release of watchOS 5.1.2, Apple has shipped the ECG app. As we explained in the MacStories Series 4 overview, the ECG functionality is enabled by new hardware including a new titanium electrode built into the Digital Crown:

This electrode pairs with another electrode built into the bottom of the Series 4's new sapphire crystal back. When you place your finger over the top of the crown you form a closed circuit between your finger and the wrist of your other arm – where the back electrode is making contact.

Apple’s ECG sensor is notable because it’s the first of its kind available over the counter to consumers. ECG results taken with the Apple Watch are stored in the Health app, from which they can be exported as a PDF for sharing with your physician.

According to Apple's press release:

The ECG app’s ability to accurately classify an ECG recording into AFib and sinus rhythm was validated in a clinical trial of around 600 participants. Rhythm classification from a gold standard 12-lead ECG by a cardiologist was compared to the rhythm classification of a simultaneously collected ECG from the ECG app. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6 percent specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. In the study, 87.8 percent of recordings could be classified by the ECG app.

watchOS has also been updated to notify users of irregular heart rhythms:

the irregular rhythm notification feature will occasionally check the user’s heart rhythm in the background for signs of an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be AFib and alerts the user with a notification if an irregular rhythm is detected on five rhythm checks over a minimum of 65 minutes.

The irregular heart rhythm notification feature, which is available for the Series 1 Watch and later, was likewise tested in clinical studies:

In that sub-study, of the participants that received an irregular rhythm notification on their Apple Watch while simultaneously wearing an ECG patch, 80 percent showed AFib on the ECG patch and 98 percent showed AFib or other clinically relevant arrhythmias.

The new Apple Watch ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notification feature are available as part of watchOS 5.1.2, which can be downloaded from the Software Update section of the Watch app on your iPhone.



Daily Dictionary’s New Watch App Showcases the Latest watchOS Capabilities

Developer Benjamin Mayo released an update this week to his new word of the day app, Daily Dictionary. Version 1.2 adds an Apple Watch app, making it easy and convenient to view each day's featured word from your wrist.

Daily Dictionary's Watch app is particularly noteworthy due to its complications for the Series 4's Infograph faces, and its custom UI for notifications. For complications, you can use a smaller option containing the app's logo which serves as a launcher, or you can select a larger complication that includes the logo alongside the word of the day itself. If you'd like it to, the larger complication can also display the current date, saving you the need for a separate date complication elsewhere on the face.

One of the ways Daily Dictionary can provide its featured word each day is through a push notification, and if you have the new Watch app installed, you'll get to see a custom notification UI that reflects the design of the full iOS app. Watch developers can take advantage of APIs that enable crafting more customizable notification interfaces, and Daily Dictionary is a great example of that. Now that the Apple Watch is becoming a more mainstream product, and since one of the Watch's chief strengths is as a notification conduit, I hope we see lots of apps follow Daily Dictionary's example in providing more creative Watch notifications.

Daily Dictionary is available on the App Store.


Apple’s Watch Face Problem

Jason Snell today published the article I've been itching to write, outlining the current mess that is Apple's watch face ecosystem. The Apple Watch in so many ways is in its best position ever, which makes the lack of coherence in Apple's watch face strategy particularly surprising.

As Apple continues to create new watch faces at a regular clip, those faces have grown more and more fragmented in what they can do. The Siri face introduced last year was an interesting new direction for watch faces, yet it remains one of a kind in many ways. The Series 4 Watch's Infograph faces come with a whole new set of complications, all of which are wonderful except that they don't work on other faces, nor do older complications work on the new faces. This lack of compatibility is frustrating enough, but what may be even more vexing is that Apple itself hasn't even provided new complications for all of its apps, only some of them – I'd love a Podcasts complication on my Infograph face, but it simply doesn't exist.

Snell offers up a handful of suggestions for where Apple should focus its watch face efforts going forward, all of which earn my total agreement. He writes:

Every face needs to be modernized and support the new complication styles, at least on Series 4. Key system apps and features like Messages and cellular status should be available on all faces. Every face design should be more flexible.

And moving forward, Apple should allow developers even more power in building complications. Complications should be able to appear when they have something to say and disappear when they don’t—for example, I’d love for a Timer complication to appear when I’m running a timer, but the rest of the time I’d rather not see it. If complications truly are the best face of Apple Watch apps, the developers of those apps need more power to build good ones.

Every one of these ideas is entirely reasonable, and would go a long way toward fixing the current watch face mess. I know we just got watchOS 5, but I hope watch faces are a strong area of focus for Apple in next year's watchOS 6.

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More Than 70 New Emoji Coming Later This Fall Are Now Available in the iOS 12.1 Beta

Apple has announced that later this fall, it will release more than 70 new emoji. The emoji, which will be released when iOS 12.1 is shipped, will be included on the Mac and Apple Watch too.

The new glyphs, which are based on the characters approved by the Unicode Consortium as part of Unicode 11.0, include a wide variety of themes. For people, there are new options for gray, red, and curly hair, and for bald people. The new set of emoji also includes new foods, animals, sports, and other activities like travel.

Among the animals added are a raccoon, kangaroo, lobster, swan, parrot, peacock, and llama. Foods include leafy greens, a cupcake, a bagel, moon cake, mango, and salt. Sports have added a softball, frisbee, lacrosse stick and ball, and skateboard. There are new emotive smiley faces too.

Looking to next year, Apple says that for Unicode 12.0, which will be the basis for emoji released in 2019, it is working with the Unicode Consortium to add disability-themed emoji. Although the emoji announced today will be officially released until later this fall, you can try them now as part of the iOS 12.1 beta and public preview released today.

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watchOS 5: The MacStories Review

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.

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  1. This last decision always felt senselessly arbitrary, and indeed Apple finally reversed it in watchOS 4.3 last March↩︎

Jony Ive Talks About Users’ Personal Connection with the Apple Watch

After the keynote Wednesday, Chief Design Officer Jony Ive was interviewed by The Washington Post about the Apple Watch Series 4. Ive told the Post:

“Every bone in my body tells me this is very significant”

What seems to have Ive most excited about the new Watch is its increasing independence from the iPhone:

“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.

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iOS 12 and watchOS 5: A Roundup of All the Little Things

Every year when Apple introduces the latest versions of its software platforms at WWDC, information streams out in two major phases: we get the biggest, most important announcements during the opening keynote, then afterward, once the new beta builds are in the hands of developers, we find out all the additional details not meriting on-stage attention. In that vein, here's a roundup of all the smaller details we've discovered so far in iOS 12 and watchOS 5 that weren't covered in our initial overviews.

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