What’s Coming for Apple Watch with watchOS 11

Apple introduced a slew of updates to watchOS during the 2024 WWDC Keynote on June 10. This year's keynote focused primarily on how Apple will incorporate AI into its software. However, the Apple Watch seems to be fairly immune to these new AI features. Instead, Apple appears to be staying true to the device’s fitness tracker origins and honing in on the convenience of a smartwatch.

Release Dates & Compatibility

New Features in Fitness & Health

What's Coming to the Fitness App

Apple seems to understand the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker, and in many ways, this is what the device does best. At its 2024 WWDC Keynote, Apple focused primarily on the smartwatch’s abilities to monitor your health data, whether by tracking your workouts or by collecting vital metrics and displaying them on an easy-to-read graph. With watchOS 11, we will see these features streamlined and improved.

apple watch watch os 11

One of the biggest new fitness features to debut is what Apple is calling Training Load. This feature will be found in the Summary tab of the Fitness app and will allow users to monitor the intensity of their workouts. You will be able to see that information on a graph to more easily track your fitness goals over time. This will help give important information to your device that can then alert you if the intensity of your training could put you at risk of injury.

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Apple has also made it possible to customize the Fitness App's Summary tab. That means you will be able to see certain metrics similar to those in the Health app. For instance, you will be able to add buttons like weekly running distance, average ground contact, or average cadence for the Running workout.

pause rings watchos 11

For lovers of the Fitness app, the long-awaited ability to pause your rings, whether due to injury, vacation, or simply because you need a break, has arrived. Thankfully, Apple has realized that rest days are a key part of any fitness routine! Additionally, you can now adjust the goals on your activity ring according to the days of the week, a total game-changer for people with shifting schedules or athletes with very specific training needs.

New Health App Updates

wwdc 2024 apple watch

Apple has also updated the Health to help people monitor and track their pregnancies. In cycle tracking, you can now measure gestational age, and your pregnancy information will show up across all charts and prompt you to review certain alerts like high heart rate.

watch os 11 apple watch

Lastly, a brand-new app is coming to the Apple Watch called Vitals. The Apple Watch is known for its ability to measure all kinds of vital signs during sleep, like blood oxygen, respiratory rate, heart rate, wrist temperature, and sleep cycles. Now, the Vitals app will allow users to quickly access this data in an easy-to-read graph. The graph will show when these metrics are normal and will alert you when one or more of your metrics is above or below average so you can take better control of your health.

Software-Focused Updates to watchOS

Updates to the Smart Stack

The Smart Stack is one Apple Watch feature that will receive some AI updates. With watchOS 11, the Smart Stack will function more like a Siri Suggestions widget and will put up a new widget that it thinks will be appropriate for you based on the context. For example, the Weather widget will appear in the Smart Stack if a rainstorm is heading toward your location. Alternatively, if your flight is about to leave, the airline widget will appear in the Smart Stack.

update software watchos 11

The Smart Stack will receive some new widgets, like Shazam and Translate, that will make moving through the world a lot easier.

Apple has also expanded the double-tap feature to allow you to use it to scroll through apps. The Check-In feature from iOS is now available on the Apple Watch, and it too has a new widget that you can easily access in the Smart Stack. Widgets in the Smart Stack will now have the ability to reflect live updates, which are crucial to sports apps, weather, or transportation.

watchos 11 apple watch

Any New Watch Faces?

Apple always debuts a new selection of Apple Watch faces during the WWDC, but this year, we only got one. Apple has updated the Photos watch face to help users select the perfect photo to display the time. Another area of the Apple Watch where Apple is utilizing AI is the new Photos watch face, which will make recommendations based on composition, facial expressions, and even the overall vibe of the photo. Then, Apple’s algorithm will compose an artistic masterpiece using your own photo. Additionally, you can turn on a feature called Dynamic mode so you can see a new photo every time you raise your wrist.

watchos 11

Other Fun New Features

Aside from all the major updates coming to watchOS 11, there are also a few fun features to look out for when the software drops:

  • Workout App—The Workout app will be receiving a bunch of new workouts that use enhanced GPS positioning for better tracking.
  • Apple Maps—You can now create your own hiking routes and get turn-by-turn directions as you go.
  • Apple Cash—A new feature will allow users to send and receive Apple Cash by holding their watch near another watch or iPhone.

The Bottom Line

Overall, while the Apple Watch didn’t get as many exciting AI updates as users may have been anticipating, Apple has stayed true to the Apple Watch’s roots. The watchOS 11 update coming this fall will streamline the Apple Watch’s fitness-tracking abilities and focus on what makes the device such a powerful tool for people who enjoy tracking their health. We’ve heard many stories over the years about the Apple Watch’s ability to save people’s lives by alerting them to potential health risks or presenting data in a way that’s easy to digest. Hopefully, these new updates to the Health and Fitness apps will continue to improve people’s physical health and wellness. Additionally, the new, more intelligent Smart Stack will allow Apple Watch users to make the most of the smartwatch they love.

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Author Details

Rachel Needell's picture

Author Details

Rachel Needell

Rachel Needell is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and a poet and author. With 10-plus years of experience working with Apple devices, she specializes in all-things iPad and is a Notes App expert, having worked on both the 2023 iPad Guide and the Notes App Guide. You can usually find her writing in the Daily Tip newsletter as one of our senior Tip writers. Rachel received her Master’s degree in English Literature in 2021 and her most recent work appears in the Winter ’21 edition of New Note Poetry. When she’s not obsessing about Apple products, you can find her voraciously reading fantasy books with her cat in Asheville, North Carolina.