WatchOS 11 for Apple Watch: New Training Load, Health Features and More

Apple’s next Apple Watch update, Watch OS 11, is official. The company introduced the new software Monday during its annual WWDC keynote, held at its Apple Park campus.

Apple’s software updates typically cover fitness, health, and connectivity, among other areas. Last year, for example, Apple updated the user interface with new widgets and added new tools and metrics for cyclists. Before that, it added new stats for runners with WatchOS 9 in 2022.

WatchOS 11 will be available in full release in the fall, but a developer beta is available to download now. It’s compatible with all Apple Watches Series 6 and later and you’ll also need an iPhone running iOS 18. Apple dropped support for Series 4 and 5 with WatchOS 11.

When paired with an iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max, an Apple Watch running WatchOS 11 will push summary notifications to the watch – a component of Apple Intelligence.

Apple Watch and iPhone Apple Watch and iPhone

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Training load

Apple Watch now offers a way to measure the intensity of your workout routine and its impact on your recovery. Called training load, it uses data such as your heart rate, pace and elevation, and combines it with your weight and height to give an estimate of your training effort with a score from 1 to 10. You You can also adjust the effort in case it doesn’t reflect how you feel.

Training load can better indicate how well your body is following your training routine. This can be helpful when training for a marathon or other competitive event when you are at risk of overtraining or undertraining. Training load is available for many cardio workouts, but for workouts where no estimate is provided, such as strength training, you can enter an effort rating. Many other wearables offer a similar view of recovery and training load data, including Garmin watches.

You will be able to see a weighted average of your training load over a 28-day period, then compare your last seven days of effort to this.

watchOS 11 completed watchOS 11 completed

An example training load on WatchOS 11.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Pause your activity ringtones

When you need to take a day off or are sick, Apple Watch now lets you pause your activity ring progress in WatchOS 11. You’ll also be able to further customize activity goals for each day of the week.

Look at this: WWDC 2021 in 11 minutes

Vital app

The Vitals app is another new place to check your health metrics, like heart rate. It will show you how your vital signs track over time and whether or not they are within a typical range based on your historical data. The app will also alert you when measurements are out of range and provide you with a personalized message with potential explanations.

Apple Watch with statistics Apple Watch with statistics

The Vitals app on WatchOS 11.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

New Double Tap Features

Apple has opened Double Tap to developers. This lets you double-tap your thumb and index finger to interact with apps, like skipping tracks in the music app or sending a message without touching the screen. Available only on Series 9 and Ultra 2, Double Tap was only available on select Apple apps, but developers will now be able to access this feature. During the keynote, Apple showed off a demo in which a third-party baby tracking app lets you start a timer to track your baby’s sleep while they’re in your arms.

Double Tap can also now scroll through any app, including Messages and Weather, so you don’t need to touch the screen.

Watch face customizations

WatchOS 11 now has a redesigned Photos watch face that uses machine learning to automatically curate the photos it thinks will look best as a watch face. It will personalize the photo, including creating a sense of depth in the image, then present options for a clock with different fonts and colors to display the time. Dynamic Mode is a new option that automatically gives you a new image of the watch face every time you raise your wrist.

Upcoming live activities on Apple Watch

Smart Stack first appeared on the Apple Watch with WatchOS 10 when you scroll with the Digital Crown or swipe up from the watch face. In WatchOS 11, it now displays additional widgets, including Live Activities, at the top of the stack. For example, if you’re watching a sports game, the score will appear at the top of your stack, or if you’re calling an Uber, the ETA will appear. Shazam, the Photos app, and Distance are also new to the Smart Stack, and you’ll also see severe weather alerts such as thunderstorm warnings.

The Apple Watch also now has a Translate app and this widget automatically appears in the Smart Stack when you travel to a location with a different language. Dictate into the watch and hear a response in another language.

More WatchOS 11 features

  • Cycle Tracking now supports more options for pregnancy tracking, including gestational age.
  • The Workout app also now supports a recording feature, so you can notify friends and family when you return from a workout.
  • Custom workouts are now supported for pool swims.
  • Apple Watch supports more interactive widgets for smart home devices.
  • Apple Maps supports offline turn-by-turn navigation for personalized walking and hiking routes in all U.S. national parks.
  • Tap to Cash lets you send and receive Apple Cash by holding Apple Watch near another watch or iPhone.

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