Apple has just announced a slate of new features and products at their annual WWDC event(World Wide Developer Conference). This event is where the company announces new updates to their software platforms (and some new hardware). Generally speaking, they only cover a fraction of the updates in the keynote, and then over the coming days and weeks, we find the rest of the new features in the developer betas, followed by public betas. Those public betas tend to be in the early July timeframe, and ultimately culminate to a production launch in September – when they typically announce new products like iPhone and Apple Watch models.

As always for my annual WWDC coverage, I’m focused specifically on the sport/fitness ones, plus WatchOS ones. I’ll have more hands-on coverage in the coming hours and days.

iPhone & iPad (Related to Sports/Tech):

Starting with iPhone updates, the new iOS 17 has countless new features – both user focused and developer focused. I’m not going to cover most of those here, instead, I’m going to focus on the ones that touch WatchOS or have some sport/fitness angle. Here’s a smattering of those:

  • New iOS Checkin Feature: This is primarily targeted at letting friends know you’ve arrived home/wherever. This will automatically check-in with your friends (that you select) that you’ve made it home safely. It’ll also automatically detect if you’ve been delayed, and ask you to confirm. If you don’t, it can notify your friends that something might be up. Within this, it’ll include your battery information and cellular status. I’m curious to see what integrations there may be here with Apple Watch, as that wasn’t covered in the keynote.
  • New iOS Journal: This is designed to let you write about your daily experiences, like an old-school journal. I only note this because one of the automatic triggers that can be incorporated is workouts, from Apple Fitness (the app).

Next, again, I normally wouldn’t cover iPad updates, but this one is notable in the sports/fitness realm. The iPad now gets Apple Health, and with that, HealthKit. Up till now, Apple Health was never on an iPad, which meant that you needed an iPhone to get an Apple Watch. While that piece hasn’t seemingly changed yet, the addition of Apple Health to iPad means that your Health/Fitness/Sports data is all synced. Apple says these will sync seamlessly between your devices.

They showed an example of this with the Rise app for iPad, using your Apple Health data, ostensibly that came from your Apple Watch – but of course, Apple Health can be used as a data repository for countess wearable companies (and is)

This is super cool, and I’m eager to see what companies and app developers do in this realm. Also, curious to see if in September we’ll finally get the ability to have Apple Watch pair to an iPad (for people who don’t own an iPhone). Over the years, Apple has slowly chipped away at the requirements for a dedicated iPhone (such as for Apple Watch units tied to a kids account, doesn’t require a dedicated iPhone).

Apple watchOS 10:

Apple’s watchOS is the operating system that Apple Watch uses. The new Apple watchOS 10 will launch to developers immediately, then typically public beta around early July, and finally to production in the September timeframe – aligned to the annual release cycle of new phones and watches. Typically speaking, Apple does not release new watch hardware at this annual June event, again, that’s reserved for September. However, the bulk of the new software features that would be announced on new watches are first announced here.

This list tends to be a ‘starting point’ for changes. In other words, only a fraction of the changes make the cut for the Apple WWDC keynote/presentation. And then from there, there are often (always) many changes between now and September’s final production release.

With that background, here’s what’s notably new in Apple watchOS 10:

  • Adding Namedrop to iOS 17 and watchOS 10: This is the new ability to quickly share contact info via NameDrop, so you aren’t doing the ‘text someone your name in a message’ thing (something I ironically did just minutes before the keynote) – this is just so much cleaner, and includes the new contact card format you see above.
  • New Widgets from watch face: You can use Digital Crown to access widgets directly from the watch face, this can e things like the calendar, timers, workouts, or 3rd party apps.
  • Newly redesigned native apps across watchOS: These better use the new UI, as well as new fullscreen views that can be iterated using the Digital Crown (with access for developers)
  • Adding two new watch faces: Palette, and Snoopy & Woodstock.
  • New Cycling Sensor support: Added Speed sensors, cadence sensors, and power meter support (Bluetooth), natively into the Workouts app.
  • Will estimate cycling power FTP: When using a power meter sensor and heart rate from the watch.
  • Will automatically determine cycling power zones: This also requires a power meter (and HR from your watch)
  • iOS will have full-screen companion watch view: Sorta like a companion to your watch – useful for putting your phone on your bike handlebars, but then leverages your watch data
  • Shows last known cellular location: In Hiking sport profile watchOS will automatically create new waypoints for the last known cellular location, for both your carrier and other carriers (for emergencies)
  • Adding new dynamic 3D elevation view to WatchOS
  • Adding new topographic map view to WatchOS – seen up above.
  • Adding the ability to see trails around you, and the specific trail route data
  • Adding new WatchOS high-frequency motion data for developers
  • New Workout API: TrainingPeaks is already onboard, and shown in the keynote. This will enable 3rd party apps to push workouts to the Apple Watch natively.

Obviously, the addition of power meter sensor support, topo maps, and a structured workout API is massive. A huge huge huge afront to the traditional sports watch makers. As I outlined last fall with the Apple Watch Ultra review, those three areas were the bigger blockers for many people. And now, they’re on the road to being resolved. That’s massive.

Again, stay tuned for all the newness hands-on over the coming hours and days, plenty more from WWDC to share!

Thanks for reading!

Product Reviews – DC Rainmaker