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Posts tagged with "watchOS"

watchOS 9: The MacStories Overview

During yesterday’s WWDC keynote event, Apple announced watchOS 9. As usual, health and fitness are the core areas of focus in the update, with the Workout app in particular getting packed with new features and metric views. The Sleep app will now track in-depth sleep stage data, and an all-new Medications app is making its debut as well. Throw in some minor quality-of-life system changes, a handful of new watch faces, and some nice accessibility improvements, and we’re looking at a fairly standard watchOS update this year.

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Apple Releases Two Pride Watch Bands, New Dynamic Pride Watch Faces, and Special Shot on iPhone Campaign

Apple has released two Pride Edition Apple Watch bands and new dynamic Pride watch faces that coordinate with the colors of the new Pride Edition Sports Loop and Nike Sports Loop bands. The company also announced a new Shot on iPhone Pride campaign.

Apple’s press release explains the design of the Pride Edition Sports Loop:

Members and allies of the LGBTQ+ creative community at Apple were inspired to deliver a new expression of pride through this unique design. Utilizing the comfortable, durable, and adjustable Sport Loop design, Apple used a new technique to remove several of the double-layer nylon-woven textile loops on the band to reveal the word “pride” in a cursive style inspired by the original “hello” greeting — displayed on the first Macintosh in 1984 — giving the word a novel, three-dimensional look and feel.

Regarding the new Nike Pride Sports Loop, the company says:

A new Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop celebrates the full spectrum of the rainbow and features a matching rainbow-colored Nike Bounce face that accompanies the new band. Along with Nike’s Be True collection, the Sport Loop honors individuals who are expanding sport for future generations and inspiring others to feel the joy of being authentically themselves. Be True is part of Nike’s broader commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, which focuses on recognition, advocacy, inspiration, and education.

New this year is a Shot on iPhone campaign that Apple says will honor “present-day queer pioneers in places of historic significance to the LGBTQ+ movement.” The campaign will be featured on the company’s Instagram account and feature:

works from photographers Ryan McGinley at Stonewall Inn in New York; Evan Benally Atwood at Window Rock in Arizona; Meinke Klein at The Homomonument in Amsterdam; Caia Ramalho at Paulista Avenue in São Paulo; Lydia Metral at Plaza de Chueca in Madrid; and Collier Schorr at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco, featuring Baobei.

The Pride Edition Sports Loop and Nike Pride Sports Loop are available now on apple.com and in the Apple Store app for $49, which is less than last year’s models, which cost $99. The new bands will also be available beginning May 26th in Apple retail stores. The new watch faces are available today on the Apple Watch Series 4 and later, running watchOS 8.6 paired with an iPhone 6s and later running iOS 15.5.


Apple Marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day by Announcing Upcoming Accessibility Features

Thursday is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To mark the occasion, Apple has announced a long list of accessibility features coming to its products later this year and shared other ways it is celebrating the day through its apps and services.

Apple’s press release sums up the features coming to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch as follows:

Using advancements across hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or low vision can use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection; users with physical and motor disabilities who may rely on assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control can fully control Apple Watch from their iPhone with Apple Watch Mirroring; and the Deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple is also expanding support for its industry-leading screen reader VoiceOver with over 20 new languages and locales. These features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.

Door Detection will be part of the Magnifier app later this year. The feature helps blind and low vision users find and navigate doors when they arrive somewhere. The feature will judge the distance to the door using LiDAR, describe the door’s attributes, like whether it opens by pushing or using a doorknob, and read signs and symbols next to doors.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

The Apple Watch will add several Physical and Motor accessibility features too. Apple Watch Mirroring, which is built on AirPlay in part, will allow users with physical and motor disabilities to control their Watches from an iPhone using Voice Control, Switch Control, voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, and Made for iPhone switches. The Apple Watch will also add a new double pinch gesture for controlling, like answering and ending phone calls and taking photos.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

For Deaf and hard of hearing users, Apple will add Live Captions on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple says captioning will work with video calling apps like FaceTime, streaming video services, video conferencing apps, and in-person conversations. Live Captions occur on-device to preserve privacy, and on the Mac, users will be able to type a response that will be spoken aloud.

VoiceOver will get an update, too, adding the following languages:

  • Arabic (World)
  • Basque
  • Bengali (India)
  • Bhojpuri (India)
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Croatian
  • Farsi
  • French (Belgium)
  • Galician
  • Kannada
  • Malay
  • Mandarin (Liaoning, Shaanxi, Sichuan)
  • Marathi
  • Shanghainese (China)
  • Spanish (Chile)
  • Slovenian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Ukrainian
  • Valencian
  • Vietnamese

VoiceOver on the Mac will also gain Text Checker that will discover formatting issues.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Apple previewed several other upcoming accessibility features across its products, including:

  • Buddy Controller, the ability for someone to use a second game controller to assist with playing a game as though the two controllers were one
  • Siri Pause Time, which will allow users to customize the period Siri waits before responding to a user
  • Voice Control Spelling Mode, for dictating words letter-by-letter
  • Customizable sound recognition of the sounds in your environment
  • New themes and text adjustments in the Books app for a more accessible reading experience
Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Also, Apple has announced that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is being celebrated with Apple Store sessions, an Accessibility Assistant shortcut in the Shortcuts app, special Fitness+ sessions and Time to Walk or Push episodes, an accessibility-oriented Maps guide, and highlighted content on the App Store and in Apple Books Apple Podcasts, Apple Music and Apple TV.

We’ve seen Apple announce accessibility features coming to future versions of its OSes before, but today’s announcement is unique given the number of features revealed. I’m eager to try these features out. Based on what Apple has said, there seems to be a lot here that will make meaningful impacts on a lot of users’ everyday lives.


WaterMinder 5.1 Delivers a Ground-Up Redesign of Its Apple Watch App and More

Today, there are a lot of apps that track hydration, but for me, the standard-bearer for the category has always been and remains WaterMinder by Funn Media. The app has evolved a lot since we first covered it in 2016, but what hasn’t changed is its emphasis on fast data entry, a clear, easy-to-use interface, and the adoption of the latest Apple technologies. With version 5.1, the WaterMinder watchOS app has been rebuilt from the ground up using SwiftUI. A handful of other nice additions have found their way into the iPhone and iPad apps too.

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Tripsy 2.10 Adds Web-Based Itineraries and Expanded Travel Email Forwarding

Tripsy is my favorite travel app because it’s not just about getting from Point A to Point B. To me, the app defines the difference between trips and travel. Lots of apps can track travel information about your flights or show you where your hotel is on a map. Tripsy can do those things too, and it’s good at them. However, where Tripsy shines brightest and sets itself apart from other apps is by going beyond those nuts and bolts essentials and focusing the things you want to do and see on your trip.

I'm a big fan of Tripsy's modern design.

I’m a big fan of Tripsy’s modern design.

We’ve covered Tripsy before, so if you’re brand new to the app, be sure to check out that review, which covered the app’s 2.0 release. That update featured a beautiful modern card-style design, loads of trip inspiration and planning tools to organize travel, lodging, activities, dining, and more in one neatly organized app that works on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and more recently, the Mac.

Unfortunately, that update was also released in the fall of 2019, so I only got a chance to use it once before COVID ended my travel plans for a while. However, the travel outlook is brighter in many corners of the world today, and pent-up demand has people revisiting deferred trips, me included. If you’re in a similar situation and have a trip in your future, I encourage you to give today’s Tripsy update a look because, with version 2.10, Tripsy makes it easier to organize a trip than ever before.

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Apple Announces SignTime and Many Other Accessibility Features Coming to Its Products

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Tomorrow, Apple will launch SignTime, a service that will pair Apple Store and Apple Support customers with on-demand sign language interpreters. The company has several other accessibility features coming too, which will be released later this year.

SignTime will allow customers to communicate with AppleCare and Retail Customer Care inside their browsers using American Sign Language, British Sign Language, and French Sign Language. The service will also be available in-person at retail stores without making arrangements ahead of time. For now, the service is limited to the US, UK, and France, but Apple says it will roll out to more countries over time.

Later this year, Apple will add AssistiveTouch to the Apple Watch. The feature uses hand clenches, pinch gestures, and hand shaking to navigate and select controls in Watch apps. Assistive Touch for the Apple Watch takes advantage of the device’s gyroscope and accelerometer along with the heart rate sensor and machine learning.

Also, coming later this year, the iPad will gain support for third-party eye-tracking devices to assist users in navigating the iPad’s UI. VoiceOver is also being enhanced with new details about people, text, table data, and other objects. The feature will offer far more descriptive information for blind and low vision users than ever before. Users will also be able to add their own image descriptions to their photos using Markup.

For deaf and hard of hearing users, Apple is adding bi-directional hearing aid support. The company is also including support for audiograms, which can be used with Headphone Accommodations to tune playback to a user’s hearing. Background sounds like balanced, bright, or dark noise, and ocean, rain, and stream sounds are being added too.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Also coming later this year are Sound Actions for Switch Control that uses mouth sounds in place of switches and buttons, customizable display and text size settings for colorblind users, and new Memoji customizations to allow users to add oxygen tubes, cochlear implants, and a soft helmet for headwear. Many of Apple’s apps and services will also be marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which is tomorrow, with features, curated collections of content, and sessions.

It’s fantastic to see such a long list of accessibility features being added to Apple’s devices tomorrow and later in the year, which presumably means this fall when the company’s OSes are expected to be updated. It’s also unusual for upcoming OS features to be revealed before WWDC, but with Global Accessibility Awareness Day coming tomorrow, it’s an excellent opportunity to spotlight these important additions to Apple’s OSes and perhaps to free up time at WWDC for other announcements.


Apple Releases Betas with Face ID Plus Apple Watch iPhone Unlocking, App Tracking Transparency, and Other New Features

Betas of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS are out today with some interesting features. Last week on World Privacy Day, Apple announced that App Tracking Transparency is coming in the spring, so it’s no surprise that iOS and iPadOS 14.5 include the feature. However, there are several other features coming in the next round of OS releases, as summarized by Rene Ritchie in this tweet:

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Apple Releases OS Updates with Better Music Hand Off for HomePod mini, Improvements to QR Code Scanning and Bluetooth Settings, the Unity Watch Face, and More

Today, Apple released iOS and iPadOS 14.4, HomePod 14.4, watchOS 7.3, which introduce a limited collection of new features along with the usual bug fixes.

On the iPhone and iPad, the Camera app can now scan smaller QR codes, which is handy for those tiny codes that are often used on product labels. The Bluetooth section of Settings has been updated with an option to identify the type of device connected to your iPhone, so it knows when headphones are connected for the purpose of sending audio notifications.

HomePod 14.4 adds a few new features that work in concert with the iPhone’s U1 chip. There is new visual, audible, and haptic feedback when music is handed off from an iPhone to a HomePod mini. The update also provides personalized listening suggestions when an iPhone is placed near a HomePod mini that isn’t currently playing audio. Media playback controls also appear automatically when an iPhone is nearby without having to unlock it first.

I have done some very preliminary testing of the new HomePod mini features and like them a lot. The haptic feedback is a quick slightly sustained vibration that lets you know that the music is being transferred. The animation that slides into view from the top of the screen includes a terrific little animation too. Bring your iPhone close to your HomePod mini again, and a button appears offering to transfer playback back to the iPhone. It’s a good example of how small changes together can make a big difference in the quality of the user experience.

The Apple Watch Unity watch face is part of watchOS 7.3.

The Apple Watch Unity watch face is part of watchOS 7.3.

As we reported earlier today, watchOS 7.3 includes the new Unity watch face. The colors of the face are inspired by the Pan-African flag and its shapes change throughout the day as you move. The ECG app has been added in Japan, Mayotte, the Philippines, and Thailand for Apple Watch Series 4 and later. Irregular heart rhythm notifications are now available in those same countries, plus Taiwan too. Apple’s release notes also mention the new Time to Walk feature in the Workout app, but that actually shipped yesterday with a server-side update.


watchOS 7: The MacStories Overview

It’s WWDC week, and while we’ve been deprived the pleasure of meeting up in person this year, Apple’s OS updates are rolling forward like always. In this morning’s keynote address, Apple VP of Technology Kevin Lynch announced the latest version of the Apple Watch operating system. watchOS 7 isn’t as dramatic as some past releases have been, but it does introduce some excellent new features including sleep tracking, multiple distinct complications from the same app, a Shortcuts app, and new workout types. We’ll dive into all the features in depth below.

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