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WatchOS 7 preview: 5 biggest features to expect today

watchOS 7 preview
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple's watchOS 7 software will be unwrapped today at WWDC 2020 following months of leaks and speculation about what features are in store for Apple’s flagship wearable.

As the software that’s expected to ship on the Apple Watch 6, there’s plenty of reason to pay attention to watchOS 7 at the annual developer’s keynote. Whether you’re wondering if your older Apple Watch will be compatible with the new software, or if Apple plans for sleep tracking are finally coming to fruition, set a reminder for 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET to watch WWDC live online.

A dedicated Fitness app, kids mode, new watch face capabilities and a catalog of mental health tools are just a handful of the exciting watchOS 7 features we expect to learn more about at WWDC based on iOS 14 code leaked back in December. Apple could have ditched any of these in the interim, but we’re confident at least a few are coming from Cupertino’s digital event later today.

Here are the 5 biggest watchOS 7 features we’re looking forward to learning more about during this year’s WWDC.

1. watchOS 7 Sleep tracking (Sleep Mode)

Sleep Mode, or Apple’s version of sleep tracking, is a feature the company has been working on for several years and could finally be ready for release. It’s been rumored since 2017, and many thought it would arrive with the Apple Watch Series 5

When enabled, the Sleep Mode preset could activate Do Not Disturb, set your alarm and begin monitoring your night of rest. Though sleep tracking on even the best fitness trackers could be inaccurate, we're optimistic that Apple waited this long to release it for watchOS because it wanted to get it right. 

Sleep tracking on the Apple Watch should offer metrics concerning the quality of your snooze. This might include setting goals for how much you want to sleep, and provide recommendations for getting a better night's rest. 

It's believed all Apple Watch models compatible with watchOS 7 will benefit from sleep tracking, meaning it won't be exclusive to the Series 6. That said, the new software might provide battery management tools or improved low-power modes that let you go longer without a charge and keep your watch on overnight.

2. watchOS 7 Fitness app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A dedicated Fitness app, separate from the existing health and activity programs, could be coming to the Apple Watch. The new app would follow your movement and track the progress of your workouts. It should even let you download guided fitness-related training videos.

The latest rumors about the new fitness app say it will be entirely free, and there are no in-app purchases present for the iOS, tvOS or watchOS versions. Apple has yet to join the training business directly, but it has shown interest in helping users get in shape with it's large library of health metrics.

3. watchOS 7 mental health tools

Several leakers have said Apple is working on a collection of mental health features for watchOS 7. Apple is allegedly motivated to make its wearables better at detecting the early signs of stress or panic using built-in sensors. These tools could function in hand with the Apple Watch 4 and 5’s electrical heart sensor, as well as incorporate the rumored SpO2 pulse oximeter coming to the Apple Watch 6.

The Apple Watch could let you know when you're stressed before you realize it and assist you in calming down. At the very least, some kind of warning would help in situations where a panic attack could put you in harm's way, like while driving.

4. watchOS 7 new watch faces and iCloud face sharing

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple will reportedly release a new watch face in watchOS 7 called Infograph Pro. As its name suggests, it will be an elevated version of the existing Infograph option that debuted with the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Infograph Pro will introduce a tachymeter, an analog watch piece that measures speed and distance based on travel time.

We could also see a library of International watch faces representing the flags of countries around the world. Although Apple may have planned these for the 2020 Summer Olympics, which have been postponed, it could still release them so you can wear you favorite country’s insignia on your wrist. 

And for those of us who want to share off our watch face customizations, watchOS 7 could introduce an iCloud sharing feature that lets us send our current configurations to friends.

5. watchOS 7 Kids Mode and parental controls

The Apple Watch doesn’t have a major kids demographic (yet,) but watchOS 7 could enable parental oversight for younger smartwatch users. Rumors say ‘Kids Mode’ would allow a single Phone to monitor both an adult user's iPhone as well as their child’s Apple Watch. This could be useful for getting in touch and giving kids access to their emergency contacts.

Kids Mode could also include an altered Activity interface, which eliminates the calorie-counting ring and focuses on movement goals instead. There may even be rewards for playing sports.

Check our our WWDC preview for all the Apple software news we expect to see at today's keynote.