It’s been in beta testing throughout the summer, and now watchOS 4 is available for everyone to download and install. The new version brings performance improvements, feature enhancements, and new bells and whistles to enjoy.
How to Update to watchOS 4
Updating to watchOS 4 is a fairly straightforward, but lengthy, process. You need to open the Watch app on your paired iPhone, and then go to General -> Software Update. Make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi, or you won’t be able to begin the download.
The download will take some time (it took me the better part of an hour), and you’ll need to have your Apple Watch charging on its dock with at least 50 percent battery life remaining.
This update is compatible with all generations of the Apple Watch.
New Watch Faces
With watchOS 4, we see three new faces introduced. The first, and probably most substantial in terms of features, is the Siri Watch face. This is a dynamic face for your Apple Watch, changing during the day to reflect what’s going on in your schedule.
Depending on what you have in your Reminders or Calendar, the Siri Watch face helps keep you on task with those. It will show you upcoming appointments, reminders that are almost due, news headlines, and sunset or sunrise information. Our own Karen Freeman gave her first impressions of the Siri Watch face at WatchAware, stating she was happy with it, but I wish it offered more options for complications.
Another addition is the Kaleidoscope Watch face. This particular Watch face takes an image and turns it into a complex and often beautiful moving kaleidoscope image. There are three complication options available, which is better than the Siri Watch face’s two.
Finally, Apple has added Disney’s Toy Story to the mix, with an animated Watch face featuring characters from the children’s movie franchise. You can watch Woody tip his hat, Buzz Lightyear get caught in a spotlight and run off, see Jessie wink, or several other animations. This Watch face only has space for a single complication.
Smarter and Better Activity and Workouts
The Activity Rings were exciting for many first-time Watch users, but I suspect more than a few of us let off trying to fill them after a while. Apple, in its new push for better fitness, has made significant changes to the Activity app on watchOS 4.
You’ll start your day with a brief motivational pep talk, letting you know how well you’re closing in on new achievements or streaks. Towards evening, Apple Watch will give you a gentle push to close your Move, Exercise, and/or Stand rings if they aren’t quite there yet.
You’ll also see new monthly challenges, with awards you can track and earn. Finally, new full-screen celebrations will help you celebrate the victory of closing a ring or hitting a goal.
You’ll see a new option in the Workout app for high intensity interval training, offering custom heart rate and motion monitoring to track your calorie burn during those grueling workout sessions. Swim tracking is enhanced to automatically track your sets and rests, check your pace, and determine the correct distance for each stroke type.
With GymKit, you’ll be able to automatically synchronize your Apple Watch’s Workout app with equipment by TechnoGym, Matrix, LifeFitness, Cybex, StairMaster, Star Trac, and Schwinn.
Your Music, Your Watch
The Music app is completely overhauled, and offers quite a bit of great functionality. You will soon have access to Apple Music’s full library of 40 million songs, and the playlists and tunes you listen to the most often will automatically sync to your Apple Watch.
For discovering new tracks, your Chill Mix and a New Music Mix automatically transfer onto your Watch as well, unless you disable them.
Last, but not Least, You can say Goodbye to the Honeycomb
Last, but certainly not least, we can finally bid adieu to the annoying honeycomb app grid. By force-pressing the Watch face with the grid active, you can choose a list layout instead. Note that the list layout also affects your dock, but it’s still perfectly usable.
You should be able to download and install watchOS 4 now, but it may be slow going as mass numbers of Apple Watch owners all try to upgrade at the same time.