Apple Fitness+ is gaining new workouts today, adding specific sessions for pregnancy and that target older adults and beginners. It’s part of a workout boost for the Apple Watch-centered subscription fitness system, and will also include a new Time to Walk session with Jane Fonda.
Announced last year, Fitness+ opened up its guided sessions in December 2020. It relies on exercise tracking through the Apple Watch, with tutorials and classes delivered via a variety of the company’s screens, such as Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone.
One of the challenges early-adopters have found, particularly those just getting into fitness, is trying to get up to speed. That’s something Apple is addressing today, with new workouts for beginners. Offered across the Yoga, Strength, and HIIT workout types, they consist of low-impact exercises and spend more time on how to perfect form to build good habits.
Much in the same way, the new workouts for older adults focus on the specific needs of older people trying to get – or stay – fit. They center on strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and mobility, Apple says, with a series of eight sessions led by trainer Molly Fox, with guest appearances by Gregg Cook for Strength, Dustin Brown for Yoga, Bakari Williams for HIIT, and Jhon Gonzalez for Dance.
Each workout is 10 minutes long, and many can be completed with either bodyweight or a light dumbbell, Apple says. Alternatively, they may use a chair or involve leaning against the wall. They can also be combined with other Fitness+ workouts, carrying those modifications over.
Finally, there’s a new workouts for pregnancy series. 10 sessions – covering Strength, Core, and Mindful Cooldown – will be led by Betina Gozo alongside trainers Emily Fayette and Anja Garcia, each 10 minutes in length. They’re designed, Apple says, to suit any stage of pregnancy along with any fitness level. Again, as with the older fitness sessions, they also include suggestions on how to modify the more general Fitness+ workouts in ways to accommodate those who are pregnant.
Beyond the three specific categories, there are now two new trainers: one in the Yoga section, and the other in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). From April 19, meanwhile, Jane Fonda’s Time to Walk session will be added. That takes the form of an audio interview with paired walking instructions.
Apple Fitness+ is currently available in the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK. Three months access is bundled with a new Apple Watch Series 3 or later, while existing owners can try it free for a month. After that, it’s $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year – for up to six family members to share – or bundle as part of the $29.95 Apple One Premiere plan.
There’s another virtual assistant you can call using your iPhone. Starting today, you can say “Hey Spotify,” with the Spotify app opened, to start playing a song, an album, or even a playlist.
Last month, reports surfaced that Spotify was working on enabling a hands-free wake word: “Hey Spotify”. Today, I received a notification in the Spotify app on my personal Galaxy S21 device that walked through the feature and how to enable it. Let’s look at what it is and what it does.
As you can see, there’s nothing much to do with the “Hey Spotify” feature apart from asking for things inside the app. Because the feature is only starting to roll out, not every user will be able to find it, but here’s where it should be:
To enable the “Hey Spotify” feature, tap the Settings icon on the Spotify homepage
Then click on “Voice Interactions
Click on the “Hey Spotify” toggle and that’s it
Now, when you’re using the app, you can just say the wake word to improve your listening experience.
This new “Hey Spotify” feature is in addition to the voice search feature that has previously been available for Premium users. The difference is that “Hey Spotify” is truly hands-free.
In the last several months, Spotify has announced several new things, such as its plans to add a HiFi subscription tier, combining music and podcasts on the same page, and a revamped design in all its iOS, Mac, and web apps.
The feature doesn’t really add any function outside of enabling Spotify’s own voice search for hands-free use. It’s just as easy to use” Hey Google” or “Hey Siri” on either Android or iOS to ask Spotify to listen to an artist, playlist, podcast, or album. Perhaps Spotify is hoping that users will be more inclined to user Spotify’s built-in voice search if it has a wake word to activate it.
Spotify’s voice search feature first launched back in 2019 for users on Spotify Premium and evidence of the Hey Spotify wake phrase was spotted as early as March 2020.
New Apple Watch models debut each fall like clockwork, and the countdown to Apple Watch Series 7 has already started. In this roundup, we’re tracking everything we know so far about the next-generation Apple Watch.
Lack of support for Family Setup and other features on the Series 3 makes it less compelling than the Apple Watch SE, but the $80 price difference is hard to overcome for buyers on a budget. It seems entirely possible that Apple Watch Series 3 could be discontinued in the next lineup while Apple Watch SE takes a price cut and sticks around.
That’s speculation for now, but Apple Watch Series 7 replacing Series 6 this fall is almost certain. (Series 5 replaced Series 4, and Series 6 replaced Series 5.) That’s where the most interesting changes occur.
Will the Apple Watch Series 7 look different? We’re not ruling it out yet. Apple Watch Series 6 introduced new red and blue aluminum colors and a graphite variant of the classic space black stainless steel casing. Apple Watch Series 7 could debut the first design tweak since the shift to a full-screen design with Apple Watch Series 4.
In September 2020, supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shared the ultimate teaser by predicting a new Apple Watch design could be ready as early as Series 7. Kuo warned that the Series 6 would retain the Series 4 design while adding that a “significant form factor design change would come with new Apple Watch models in 2H21 at the earliest.”
Unfortunately, that’s as specific as the rumor has gotten, but a “significant form factor design change” certainly leaves a lot to the imagination — if it happens this year.
Apple’s design lab currently has an affinity for flat sides from the iPad Pro to the iPhone 12. Concepts have already imagined what an iPhone 12-inspired look could mean for the Apple Watch Series 7. Other ideas could include reductions in depth, changes in shape, or even more out-of-the-box design changes.
Apple Watch contributes much of its success to a healthy suite of features that monitor a person’s overall wellbeing. For that reason, it makes sense to continue accelerating what’s possible for health through the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch Series 4 introduced the ECG function, Apple Watch Series 5 brought the always-on display, including for the Workout app, and Apple Watch Series 6 was the first to offer blood oxygen level measurements.
If the rumors are to be believed, Apple Watch Series 7 could be a breakthrough in blood sugar level detection. ET News out of Korea reported in January 2021 that both Samsung and Apple are working on bringing blood sugar measurements to their watches this year:
Samsung Electronics will be equipped with a blood glucose measurement function in the new smart watch ‘Galaxy Watch 4’ (tentative name) to be introduced in the second half of this year. It is a no-blood sampling method that detects the level of glucose in the blood without blood collection using an optical sensor, and is expected to contribute to the health management of the general public as well as diabetics.
Not only Samsung Electronics, but also Apple is applying the blood glucose measurement function to the Apple Watch 7 to be introduced this year. With the related patent technology secured, it is focusing on ensuring reliability and stability prior to making the technology available.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has long been said to be curious about blood sugar monitoring through Apple Watch. In May 2017, it was reported that Cook was spotted around Apple’s campus testing a wearable blood sugar tracker that worked with the Apple Watch.
Later that year, the New York Times reported that Apple was researching continuous noninvasive glucose readers with technology that may be years off. Is three to four years the amount of time Apple needed? We should have a better idea the closer we get to Fall 2021.
Popular grill manufacturer Traeger is out with what it says is an industry first – an Apple Watch app to not just view your grill’s temperature but actually control it. The latest Traeger app for its WiFIRE connected grills also lets you set/change the probe temp, see your pellet level, timer, turn on “Keep Warm Mode,” and more right from your wrist.
Traeger shared the news today on full Apple Watch control arriving for its WiFIRE grills that brings almost all the same functionality of the iPhone app to Apple’s wearable.
While smart grill thermometers have been around for years now, they only let you check the temp of what you’re cooking/your grill, not change it, let alone change grill modes.
Grill Temp – Users can monitor and control their grill temperature in real time and make adjustments from anywhere, be it from the kitchen or the ski slopes.
Probe Temp – Cooks can set a desired internal temperature and monitor their progress without ever lifting the lid.
Keep Warm Mode– Once the recipe on the grill is complete, but the rest of the dishes in the kitchen needs some additional prep, users can set their grill to “Keep Warm Mode” to reduce the grill temperature to XX degrees and ensure the food is ready when you are.
Timer – Alerts notify the cook when its ready to sauce, check, or pull your food.
Pellet Level– The pellet sensor will display current pellet levels in real time, so users know when to re-load the hopper and keep the stoked fire burning.
Super Smoke Mode – This feature allows users to blast their food with 100% hardwood smoke between temperatures from 165 up to 225 degrees. Users can adjust the grill temperature between the mode ranges, and turn on or off.
At first, it appeared the iOS 14.5 public beta arrived without the watchOS 7.4 this afternoon. However, the latest watchOS beta is now available, it’s just slightly hidden as it only shows up after first upgrading to iOS 14.5. watchOS 7.4 brings the handy Apple Watch Unlock feature for iPhone when wearing a mask.
watchOS 7.4 public beta 1 arrives after the developer beta was seeded this past Monday. Funny enough, while we didn’t see it as available alongside iOS 14.5 public beta 1 today, it appeared only after installing the update on iPhone.
watchOS 7.4 brings the highly anticipated new Apple Watch Unlock feature for iPhone that works when Face ID notices you’re wearing a face mask which allows you to skip having to use your passcode.
Be sure to upgrade your iPhone to the iOS 14.5 public beta first, then you should see the watchOS public beta for 7.4 appear on iPhone in the Watch app > General > Software Update.
Throughout February, Apple is bringing customers a variety of ways to celebrate Black History Month across its products and services.
Apple launches new editorial collections, Apple Maps Guides, the Apple Watch Black Unity Collection, Today at Apple sessions, and more
From curated features across the App Store, Apple Music, the Apple TV app, Apple Books, and Apple Podcasts, to new Apple Maps Guides, the Apple Watch Black Unity Collection, Today at Apple sessions, and more, here is a look at what is in store across Apple’s products and services this February.
Throughout February, users can visit the App Store Black History Month Hub, which will spotlight Black-owned businesses, developers, entertainment and gaming apps, and social justice apps. The App Store will also feature stories with Black developers discussing the importance of representation in apps and games, with creators from ustwo games and Zynga.
Users can visit the App Store Black History Month Hub spotlighting Black-owned businesses, developers, entertainment and gaming apps, and social justice apps.
To honor the Black artists, moments, and movements that have shaped global music and pop culture, Apple Music will launch a monthlong experience across Apple Music, Apple Music radio, and Apple Music TV that highlights some of the most remarkable musicians spanning jazz, blues, soul, gospel, R&B, pop, and hip hop. Throughout February, Apple Music will also feature curated playlists, essays, original videos, and more from Black influencers, musicians, authors, and directors, including Erykah Badu, Naomi Campbell, Common, Ava DuVernay, John Legend, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Jaden Smith. Apple Music also commissioned original artwork from collage artist Rob Lewis to visually weave together the music programming with the culture it represents.
Customers can enjoy curated Apple Maps Guides created in collaboration with EatOkra, a Black-owned business directory app based in Brooklyn, New York. EatOkra works with local chefs to provide a food-themed directory of Black-owned restaurants in local communities.
With curated Apple Maps Guides created in collaboration with EatOkra, customers can find and support Black-owned restaurants in their local communities.
Apple TV App
This month’s theme for “Essential Stories” on the Apple TV app will spotlight the multidimensionality of the Black family and its representation onscreen. Viewers can dive into the “Essential: Stories That Honor Black Families” collection with curated sets of films and TV shows that explore motherhood, fatherhood, iconic TV families, queer chosen families, and more. This latest installment features original art by Jon Key, whose intimate illustrations depict various interpretations of family units. Viewers can also check out prior themes of “Essential Stories” with work from artists Darien Birks, Richard Chance, Dani Pendergast, and Loveis Wise, with more to come each month.
“The Oprah Conversation” episodes “Caste: Part 1” and “Caste: Part 2” from Apple TV+, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson and her book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” will be available for free on the Apple TV app. In these episodes, Oprah Winfrey, Wilkerson, and a panel of readers discuss the concept that America is built on a caste system, and readers share stories of how the themes of the critically acclaimed bestseller resonate with their lives and experiences. The “Oprah’s Book Club” interview with Winfrey and Wilkerson remains free to stream on Apple TV+, and customers can also check out the free “Caste” discussion guide on Apple Books and the Oprah’s Book Club podcast on “Caste.”
On the Apple TV app, customers can explore the “Essential Stories” collection to find movies and TV shows that celebrate Black families.
Apple News readers can explore curated topic groups that will highlight the best journalism around race in America. Separately, a special Apple News+ Spotlight collection will feature audio articles that celebrate the Black experience. Readers can dive even deeper by visiting the Racial Justice Spotlight, an ongoing collection of articles that includes education on anti-racism, mental-health resources, and ideas to serve their community.
Apple News will feature curated topic groups that highlight the best journalism around race in America, while Apple News+ will offer audio articles that celebrate the Black experience.
A broad new collection on Apple Books will highlight great books and audiobooks by Black authors across a variety of genres, including literary fiction, history, memoirs, and books for young readers. Apple Books will also put a spotlight on both authors and narrators, with a special feature in which new authors, such as Jordan Ifueko, Robert Jones Jr., and Brandon Taylor, discuss their recent releases, and another feature in which celebrated audiobook narrators, including Adjoa Andoh, Guy Lockard, and Bahni Turpin, dive into some of their favorite narrating experiences.
On Apple Books, customers can find special features spotlighting Black authors and narrators, along with recommended books and audiobooks across a variety of genres.
On Apple Podcasts, listeners can enjoy an expansive set of shows from powerful Black voices including Michelle Obama, Joe Budden, Phoebe Robinson, and Baratunde Thurston; a collection of shows from creators around the world offering thoughtful interpretations of Black families; and an extended promotion of “Seizing Freedom” from VPM, a show that documents the struggle to define freedom after 400 years of slavery. Hosted by author and historian Kidada E. Williams, with firsthand accounts from diaries, newspapers, speeches, and letters, “Seizing Freedom” illustrates the stakes for the nation during the Reconstruction era as it reveals unsettling echoes in the present-day pursuit for political and social justice.
Apple Podcasts offers listeners a wide range of shows from powerful Black voices, including “Seizing Freedom” from VPM, which is hosted by author and historian Kidada E. Williams and features artwork by L.A.InkWell.
Apple is introducing the Black Unity Collection, designed to celebrate and acknowledge Black history and Black culture. The collection includes a limited-edition Apple Watch Series 6, the Black Unity Sport Band, and a Unity watch face. As part of this effort, Apple is supporting six global organizations to help advance their missions in promoting and achieving equality and civil rights in the US and around the world: Black Lives Matter Support Fund via the Tides Foundation; European Network Against Racism; International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights; Leadership Conference Education Fund; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; and Souls Grown Deep.
Apple introduces the Black Unity Collection, designed to celebrate and acknowledge Black history and Black culture. The collection includes a limited-edition Apple Watch Series 6, the Black Unity Sport Band, and the Unity watch face.
The Black Unity Sport Band uses colors inspired by the Pan-African flag with the words “Truth. Power. Solidarity.” laser-engraved onto the closure.
Honoring the craft of quilting, the Unity watch face creates a pattern of irregular shapes that dynamically changes over time.
The limited-edition Apple Watch Series 6 features “Black Unity” laser-etched onto the back crystal.
Members of the Black creative community and allies throughout Apple came together to design an Apple Watch Sport Band and Apple Watch face to honor the ongoing fight for racial justice. Inspired by the call to action of both the historic and current movements, the Black Unity Sport Band has “Truth. Power. Solidarity.” laser-engraved onto the interior of the stainless steel fastening pin.
The Black Unity Collection pays homage to the rich tradition and craft of quilting in the Black community and celebrates the colors of the Pan-African flag: red for the blood that unites people of the African Diaspora and was shed for their liberation, black for the people whose existence is affirmed by the flag, and green for the vibrant natural wealth of Africa, the Motherland. The Black Unity Sport Band is made from individual pieces of colored fluoroelastomer, which are assembled by hand and compression-molded into one. The Unity watch face creates an ever-changing pattern that dynamically shifts over time.
Apple Watch users can participate in a new Unity Activity Challenge and earn the limited-edition award by closing their Move ring seven days in a row during February.
Apple Watch Series 6 Black Unity and the Black Unity Sport Band will be available starting February 1, and the Unity watch face will be available as part of watchOS 7.3 coming later today.
In addition, Apple Watch users can participate in a new Unity Activity Challenge and earn the limited-edition award by closing their Move ring seven days in a row during February.
Apple Fitness+ subscribers can enjoy a collection of themed workouts, featuring all Black artists across Cycling, Dance, High Intensity Interval Training, Strength, Yoga, and Treadmill. Fitness+ Trainers will also feature individual songs and pay tribute to Black History Month across additional workouts. In acknowledgment and celebration of Black History Month, the first Time to Walk episode in February will feature author Ibram X. Kendi reflecting on racial justice and resiliency.
Today at Apple
Today at Apple, in partnership with design group It’s Nice That, is hosting New World, a program of hands-on virtual sessions and step-by-step tutorials focused on exploring the power of creativity to bring about change. During Black History Month, curator and writer Kimberly Drew will moderate sessions led by Black creatives who will discuss their creative practices and where they get inspiration, as well as demonstrate and teach one particular skill or technique. Sessions include typographer Tré Seals; creative director, filmmaker, and photographer Joshua Kissi; and visual artist, photographer, and educator Shan Wallace. Everyone is welcome to join and can sign up at apple.co/new-world.
Today at Apple, in partnership with design group It’s Nice That, will offer a program of hands-on virtual sessions and tutorials that focus on using creativity to bring about change.
Shot on iPhone
Beginning in February, Apple’s latest Shot on iPhone campaign, “Hometown,” highlights the work of more than 30 Black photographers commissioned by Apple. Their mission was to capture amazing imagery of their “Hometown” from their own unique lens. This project covered a broad range of American cities and towns like Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, and many more.
These Black History Month activities complement the company’s ongoing commitment to honoring and celebrating Black voices. Earlier this month, Apple announced a set of major new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI).
Pricing and Availability
Apple Watch Series 6 Black Unity (GPS) starts at $399 (US) and Apple Watch Series 6 Black Unity (GPS + Cellular) starts at $499 (US). The Black Unity Sport Band is $49 (US).
The Black Unity Collection will be available online and in store from Apple and Target, beginning Monday, February 1, in the US and over 38 countries and regions.
The limited-edition Apple Watch Series 6 Black Unity will be available for the month of February, and the Black Unity Sport Band will be available throughout the year.
The Unity watch face will be available later today as part of watchOS 7.3, and requires iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14.4.
The Black History Month collections and content across Apple services will be available starting February 1.
Time to Walk is an inspiring new audio walking experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers, created to encourage users to walk more often and reap the benefits from one of the healthiest activities.
Episodes feature personal stories, photos, and music from influential people to inspire Apple Watch users to walk more
Apple unveiled Time to Walk, an inspiring new audio walking experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers, created to encourage users to walk more often and reap the benefits from one of the healthiest activities. Each original Time to Walk episode invites users to immerse themselves in a walk alongside influential and interesting people as they share thoughtful and meaningful stories, photos, and music. Time to Walk can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere with Apple Watch and AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones.
“Walking is the most popular physical activity in the world, and one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies. A walk can often be more than just exercise: It can help clear the mind, solve a problem, or welcome a new perspective,” said Jay Blahnik, Apple’s senior director of Fitness Technologies. “Even throughout this challenging period of time, one activity that has remained available to many is walking. With Time to Walk, we’re bringing weekly original content to Apple Watch in Fitness+ that includes some of the most diverse, fascinating, and celebrated guests offering inspiration and entertainment to help our users keep moving through the power of walking.”
Country music star Dolly Parton reflects on career, family, and growing up in rural Tennessee in her Time to Walk episode.
In his Time to Walk episode, NBA player Draymond Green reflects on the virtues of failure and tuning out criticism.
In her Time to Walk episode, Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba talks about lifelong relationships and keeping the faith.
Musician Shawn Mendes shares how a slower pace has helped him personally and creatively in his Time to Walk episode.
Each Time to Walk episode is shaped by the guest’s personal, life-shaping moments and includes lessons learned, meaningful memories, thoughts on purpose and gratitude, moments of levity, and other thought-provoking topics, recorded while walking outside or in locations that are meaningful to them. The narrative comes to life through photos that appear on Apple Watch, perfectly timed to amplify a corresponding moment the guest shares. Following the guest’s stories, the experience extends with the guest introducing a short playlist of songs that has given them motivation and inspiration, so the listener can continue their walk to a soundtrack intimately connected to each guest.
Time to Walk launches today with four episodes from the following guests:
Country music star Dolly Parton has won nine GRAMMYs and is also a celebrated actor, businessperson, and humanitarian. Dolly reflects on her career, family, and growing up in rural Tennessee. “I’ve loved walking ever since I was a little girl in the Smoky Mountains,” Parton says. “I think it’s so important to be able to get out and walk if we can during this time. I do my best thinking when I walk. And while many of us feel confined during this time, I’m hopeful that people will take a walk down memory lane with me and we can all feel a little more freedom taking the time to walk together.”
NBA player Draymond Green won three basketball championships with the Golden State Warriors, helping to change how the game is played. He reflects on the virtues of failure and tuning out criticism. “There’s nothing better than a walk in nature, getting lost in my thoughts, and taking a deep breath of fresh air,” Green says. “Take all the stresses of your day and let them blow away with the wind. I hope sharing my stories with those who go on a walk with me will give them the same drive to chase their dreams that I had in chasing mine.”
Musician Shawn Mendes went viral on social media at 15, had his first platinum album by 19, and has toured the world. He shares how a slower pace has helped him personally and creatively. “Taking a walk is a great way to clear your mind,” Mendes says. “It’s the most simple thing you can do to calm the body and soul, reflect, and slow down. I hope people get to feel the same sense of calm I do while walking and can bring that to their own experiences.”
Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba found stardom on the series, “Orange Is the New Black,” but only after many rejections. She talks about lifelong relationships and keeping the faith. “I love walking either by myself or with my dog,” Aduba says. “It’s a time to connect and have the conversations with myself that can often get overlooked throughout the day, and bring peace of mind. The experience of walking and telling my stories gave me that familiar feeling that walking brings, answering questions that need to be answered, and addressing topics that need to be addressed. I’m so excited to share that with those who take the time to walk with me.”
Once a Time to Walk episode is selected on Apple Watch, a Walk workout automatically begins and users can go at any pace that suits them.
Guests record their Time to Walk episodes while walking outside or in locations that are meaningful to them.
New episodes will appear in the Workout app on Apple Watch from a different guest each Monday through the end of April. Users can browse and enjoy previous Time to Walk episodes when it is most convenient for them.
Time to Walk episodes are automatically downloaded to Apple Watch with a Fitness+ subscription, and users can start an episode directly from the Workout app. Once a Time to Walk episode is selected on Apple Watch, a Walk workout automatically begins and users can go at any pace that suits them while listening with AirPods or paired Bluetooth headphones. New episodes ranging from 25 to 40 minutes will appear automatically in the Workout app on Apple Watch, and users can also browse episodes in the Fitness+ tab in the Fitness app on iPhone. For Apple Watch customers who use a wheelchair, Time to Walk becomes Time to Push, and automatically starts an Outdoor Wheelchair Walk Pace workout.
Pricing and Availability
Time to Walk is the latest addition to Apple Fitness+, the first fitness service built around Apple Watch, which also brings studio-style workouts to iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD, intelligently incorporating workout metrics from Apple Watch for a first-of-its-kind personalized and immersive experience users can complete wherever and whenever is convenient for them.
Apple Fitness+ is available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.
Three months of Apple Fitness+ are included for customers who purchase Apple Watch Series 3 or later, and one month of Fitness+ is included for existing Apple Watch users.1
Fitness+ is available as a subscription service for $9.99 (US) per month or $79.99 (US) per year.2
Fitness+ can be shared among up to six family members for the same price, making it easy for other Apple Watch users in the household to enjoy the service.
Fitness+ is included in the Apple One Premier plan, which, where available, also gives customers access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and 2TB of iCloud storage for $29.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.
Fitness+ requires Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later, or iPhone SE, with watchOS 7.2 or later and iOS 14.3 or later.
Time to Walk requires AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones paired with Apple Watch.
Once Time to Walk episodes are downloaded, a WiFi or cellular connection is not required.
A welcome advancement for Apple Watch with watchOS 7 is Family Setup, a feature that lets an adult configure the wearable for a child who doesn’t have an iPhone. Family Setup includes multiple features to help manage your kid’s device, follow along for how to setup Apple Watch Schooltime.
Family Setup for Apple Watch is a great way to stay connected to your kids (or elderly parents) without them needing their own iPhone. And one of the new features that are focused on kids is the Schooltime mode (also available for anyone).
It allows parents to setup a school schedule for Apple Watch to remain on a simple yellow watch face that’s easy for teachers or adults to recognize and can be used whether kids are learning at home or back in their classrooms.
In addition to the yellow watch face, Schooltime mode puts on Do Not Disturb and restricts interactions to help kids (or anyone) stay focused.
What you’ll need to use Schooltime
Jump to the bottom of this post if you want to use Schooltime on your own Apple Watch.
To set it up on a child’s watch, you’ll need to be using Family Sharing and have a child’s Apple ID account setup that you’ll connect with their Apple Watch.
How to setup Family Sharing and create a child’s Apple ID on iPhone and iPad
The Apple Watch SE is a more affordable version of the Series 6 wearable. It makes lots of small trade-offs, which shouldn’t matter to most potential buyers, in order to reach the lower price point. It’s a true workout and smartphone companion that offers most of the features people want at a more palatable cost.
The Apple Watch SE is identical in design to the Apple Watch Series 6 save for two things: colors and materials. The Series 6 is offered on a nice range of shades, including silver, space gray, gold, blue, and red, but the SE is limited to silver, space gray, and gold. Similarly, where the Series 6 comes in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium, the SE is only available in aluminum. Everything else is the same.
There’s not much to be said about the Watch’s design at this point, as it’s been carried over for a few years now (since the Series 4). The Apple Watch SE is available in two sizes: 40mm and 44mm. You can order it with a wide range of straps and add LTE for cellular connectivity if you wish. We reviewed the 44mm space gray model (GPS) with a red silicone strap. (We couldn’t get one of the new Solo Loop bands.)
The size and fit of the Apple Watch SE is good for me. The gently rounded underbelly is comfortable against the skin and the edges never dug into my skin. I don’t care for the feel of the plain silicone strap that came with our review unit (in fact, it gave me a rash.) It has a slick finish to it that just doesn’t feel good against your wrist. I’d much prefer one of the cloth-like loops. That said, the silicone strap offered a snug fit that wasn’t too tight.
The 44mm size is great, as it offers plenty of real estate across the 448 by 368 pixels. The SE doesn’t offer the always-on display functionality of the Series 6, but it lights up whenever you raise your wrist. I had no trouble viewing it outdoors under direct sunlight. One thing to note, the Series 6 offers sapphire glass on the stainless steel and titanium models. The Watch SE is limited to Ion-X glass for protection; it is more scratch prone than the sapphire.
The digital crown is still one of the best control tools for any smartwatch in the market. There’s a flush button below the crown that works well. The speaker slits are on the left edge of the watch. Myriad sensors are tucked into the glass on the bottom.
Apple gave the SE its S5 SiP processor, which has a 64-bit, dual-core engine. It’s paired with 32GB of storage, which is more than enough for some tunes. Other features of the hardware include the W3 chip for pairing with AirPods, an always-on altimeter, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and compass.
Battery life is rated to 18 hours of active usage. You’ll find that your mileage will vary greatly. For example, with just casual use of the watch, using it to monitor daily activity, for example, it easily reached the end of the day with a 50% charge. Tossing in just one GPS-tracked workout, however, will ding the battery significantly. Even so, I never found myself in battery trouble, even on long days that stretched from 7am to midnight. Recharging it takes about 90 minutes.
It all, the Apple Watch SE continues to be one of the most comfortable and functional smartwatches out there.
Health and fitness tracking
As with all Apple Watches, the Watch SE covers the gamut when it comes to monitoring health and fitness. It does lose some key features of the Series 6, however, including the ability to measure blood oxygen and to take an electrocardiogram. If you were counting on these, you’ll need to upgrade to the 6.
While those two heart health functions are absent, the Watch SE still monitors your heart rate constantly. It can tell you if you have a heart rate that is abnormally high or low, as well as signal you if it detects irregular heart rates. These could be indicators of heart problems. I tested the Apple Watch SE against an Apple Watch Series 4 that I have on hand and found the heart rate detection to be equivalent between the two. The Series 6 gets an upgraded heart rate sensor, so again you’ll need to spend more to get an even more accurate heart rate sensor.
Sleep tracking is a big feature touted by modern wearables and it’s one the Apple Watch SE punts on a little. Rather than fully track your sleep (we’re talking advanced features, such as REM cycle tracking), the app helps you set and target sleep goals. For example, say you want to achieve eight hours of sleep per night. The watch will tell you when to go to bed to reach that goal. The app relies on when you last use your iPhone for determining when you get to sleep. The Apple Watch SE does not track sleep as thoroughly as some Fitbit devices might, but it does cover the basics of time spent sleeping. If you want serious sleep tracking with advanced features, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
On the fitness front, you’ll find the Apple Watch is a fine tool to have strapped to your wrist. It can automatically track a number of workouts, such as walks, swimming, or cycling, and can manually track many more. I found indoor and outdoor tracking to be very accurate. For example, I took the Watch SE on a regular (outdoor) hike that I do and it got the mileage exactly right, with step counts that were about average for the trek. I also tested the Watch SE for walks on the treadmill. Its margin of error was within 0.03 miles, which is quite good over a 2.5-mile walk.
Smartwatch functionality abounds on the Apple Watch SE. It includes all the core behaviors you expect from a modern smartwatch.
First, and perhaps most importantly, apps. If there’s one thing the Apple Watch SE does well, it’s apps. Apple has an entire app store just for its smartwatches, and developers have actually filled it with wrist-sized versions of their smartphone apps. For example, I can use the Starbucks app to pay for coffee or the United app to scan my boarding pass, or I can use the Spotify app to control my playlists or the CNN app to check the latest headlines.
Apple stuffed a plethora of its own apps aboard the watch, too. Smartwatch essentials, such as calendar, messaging, stopwatch, and compass are aboard, as are nice-to-haves such as the camera shutter release, Apple Maps, and Apple’s Memoji app.
Last, there’s a new service called Family Setup. As long as you buy an LTE version of the Apple Watch SE and have an iPhone, you can setup multiple watches for the family. Think of it as the easiest possible way to get your kid a phone / smartwatch combo. Because the watch has LTE (this service does not work with GPS-only watches), it can send/receive messages, phone calls, as well as connect to the App Store for discovering apps. We were unable to test this, however, because we don’t have an LTE-capable Apple Watch.
If there’s one are other watchmakers are sorely behind Apple, it’s the apps and overall smartwatch experience.
You can spend as little as $199 on an Apple Watch or as much as $1,249, depending on the series and options you choose. The base prices are fairly straightforward. The Series 3, which is now the “budget” Apple Watch, slots in at $199, while the SE starts at $279, and the Series 6 starts at $399. Adding LTE, jumping to the larger screen size, or adopting a stainless steel band will set you back more.
Unless you’re on the strictest budget, I think you can safely ignore the Series 3. That $80 difference between the Series 3 and SE is truly not too much to ask for the dramatic improvement in features, such as the processor and display. The Series 6 gets you a lot of advanced features, but many of them, such as the ECG and SpO2, won’t be missed by all but the most dedicated fitness buffs.
In other words, the Apple Watch SE has become the Goldilocks option, as it finds the right balance between price and features.
If the Apple ecosystem in general, and Apple Watch in particular, are not for you, you have options.
Apple Watch SE review: The verdict
The Apple Watch SE is a fine wearable. It excels at the basics, such as fitness and simple usability. It also lacks some serious features, such as advanced sleep tracking, as well as the electrocardiogram and blood oxygen sensors of the Series 6.
The SE is a definite and worthwhile step up from the affordable Series 3. It adds just enough functionality to be worth the extra cash. On the other side of the same coin, it’s a better value than the $399 Series 6. While the Series 6 will do a better job at some things, it’s not necessarily worth the extra dough for casual users.
watchOS 7 was released to the general public last week, bringing new watch face features, sleep tracking support, and more to Apple Watch models dating back to the Apple Watch Series 3. Some Apple Watch Series 3 users, however, are reporting a variety issues since installing watchOS 7, including random reboots, poor performance, and more.
On Apple’s support forums, there’s a thread dedicated to Apple Watch Series 3 owners expressing frustration with device performance since installing watchOS 7. One of the most common complaints seems to be that the Apple Watch Series 3 will randomly reboot multiple times per day with watchOS 7 installed:
I’ve had several reboots a day since updating, it asks me for my passcode and shows blank stats on activity. Never had an issue like this before on Watch OS6 or earlier, surely there has to be a supplement update from Apple to address this?
Multiple Apple Watch Series 3 users refer to watchOS 7 as “the worst” watchOS update that Apple has released so far.
My series 3 completed an auto update overnight to Watch OS7. Today it has shut itself down at least 3 times, locked itself while on my wrist about 4 times, failed to load complications on multiple faces (weather, activity rings, date etc), disconnected from my phone at least twice. This has been the buggiest upgrade I have seen.
On the MacRumors Forums, there’s another thread dedicated to Apple Watch Series 3 owners voicing frustration with watchOS 7, including complaints of random reboots, laggy performance, and more.
Two things make these complaints even more notable. First, there is no way to downgrade a watchOS 7 update, which means these Apple Watch Series 3 owners can’t downgrade back to watchOS 6. watchOS 7.0.1 was released as a bug fix update this week, but users report that it has not solved their problems.
Secondly, Apple still sells the Apple Watch Series 3 as part of its Apple Watch lineup, even though it seems as if the aging hardware might struggle to keep up with the new features of watchOS 7. This could also have implications for the availability of future software updates, such as watchOS 8, for the Apple Watch Series 3.
At this point, it’s unclear how widespread these issues are, but judging by the sheer volume of complaints, the problems are likely to already be on Apple’s radar. Have you experienced any of these issues with your Apple Watch Series 3 since updating to watchOS 7? Let us know down in the comments.