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WatchOS 4 release date, specs and features: Apple launches new app to help identify heart irregularities

The app will be used to collect data for the Apple Heart Study

18/09/2017:WatchOS 4 released tomorrow - what are the best features?

WatchOS 4 hits the Apple Watch on 19 September and promises a raft of new features for users.

While the latest version isn't as much of a massive upgrade compared to the previous one, it will come with a series of improvements.

For starters, the latest watchOS tracks heart rates more closely. Current rates can be viewed via complications on the watch face. The Heart Rate app will also have more historical detail than ever before. It will warn users if it detectsan elevated heart ratewhile a user is inactive.

The heart rate updates will also form part of a new initiative called the Apple Heart Study as part of ongoing medical research partnerships. This will anonymously send health data from participants through its HealthKit SDK straight to the research team at Stanford Medicine. This will currently run in the US only.

WatchOS 4 also supports several new activity types, such as high-intensity training, and the activities can be changed over very quickly. The Apple Watch can now be synced with gym equipment, such as bikes and treadmills, with a feature called 'Gym Connect'.

There are also improvements to Siri with a new watch face that displays information such as reminders, meetings and news. The feature also learns what to display based on what it thinks is most relevant to the user.

Users will also be able to browse apps in a list instead of the normal honeycomb grid. The multitasking menu is now vertical. A Now Playing complication brings up music controls directly; this replaces the previous Music complication.

In the Control Center, there's a new Flashlight icon. When activated, it can show either a bright white display,a red background, or a flashing light background.

Users can download WatchOS4 from 19 September.

13/09/2017:watchOS 4 to be released on 19 September

Apple announced yesterday that the new watchOS 4 will be available from 19 September.

The new OS has smart activity coaching, a redesigned workout app and there are new features for swimmers.

The company claimed the Apple heart rate sensor is the most used heart rate monitor in the world and has made enhancements to the heart rate app which now provides users with more information. This includes their resting heart rate and recovery heart rate which is how quickly the rate drops after a workout. The watch will also notify users when they have an elevated heart rate despite not being active, which can be useful for those with medical conditions.

The watch can now be paired with some gym equipment too, giving the device access to metrics such as speed, calories and heart rate to keep it in sync.

When working out, the Apple Watch automatically turns on do not disturb to keep users focused on their exercise instead of being notified of new emails.

Lastly, there is faster app responsiveness, more background modes and access to Core Bluetooth and Water Lock.

Apple also announced theApple Watch Series 3, including UK prices for the device. Pre Orders are set to open on 15 September with the device available from 22 September, three days after the update is scheduled.

07/09/2017:New watchOS 4 icons indicate Apple is gearing up its wearable to support a wider variety of workouts.

The stick figure icons, spotted byiHelp BR, range from outdoor hiking to baseball and even equestrian sports.

While many of these will be covered by the Apple Watch 2's sensors, the publication speculates that some more niche sports will need new or improved sensors, which it predicts will arrive in the Apple Watch Series 3.

The icons would be available on watchOS 4, which is expected to launch this autumn - potentially alongside a Watch 3 device.

This adds weight to speculation that the Watch 3 will launch next week as part of Apple's 12 September Special Event.

You can check out the full list of activities atiHelp BR.

05/06/2017:Apple has revealed its latest watchOS operating system at WWDC 2017, showcasing some significant Siri integrations and improved fitness tracking.

Thelong-expectedwatchOS 4, announced at Apple's WWDC event in San Jose on Monday, adds a number of new watch faces, including one that integrates Siri functionality to provide personalised updates.

When the watch is used to access apps, Siri will draw on default apps such as calendar entries, Alarms, Maps, as well as other third-party apps, to display relevant updates, forexample, upcoming meetings that may clash with your schedule.

Aside from the Siri watch face, a partnership with movie franchise Toy Story allows for an animated watch face featuring the characters, while another face will let you create some impressive kaleidoscope images from your photos.

The activity tracker has also received some added features, including challenges that reward you with some fancy screen animations for completing milestones. It will track performance over the course of a few days and recommend workouts to keep reaching new records. Apple has also been working on custom heart rate algorithms specifically designed forhigh-intensityinterval training.

WatchOS 4 also provides gym goers with the means to tether their Apple Watch to supported exercise equipment through a tool known as GymKit. This transfers data directly through an NFC connection, which should significantly improve the accuracy of recorded workouts.

Added Bluetooth functionality now lets you connect to other sports and health devices, such as kits for monitoring glucose levels while exercising.

Person-to-person payments, which was also demonstrated inthe iOS 11 preview, will also make its way to watchOS 4, allowing users to transfer money to friends and family in a way that resembles the iMessage app.

The developer preview is now available, and the OS will be freely available to all in the autumn.

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