It’s rumoured that Apple will launch its Apple Watch Series 3 later this year. But you can get a bunch of new features for your existing Apple Watch before then for free, thanks to the new watchOS 4 operating system software.
We got our first look at watchOS 4 at WWDC 2017 on 5 June, and the third beta is available to download now. Read on to find out about its new features.
Thinking of buying an Apple Watch? Read our Apple Watch buying guide 2017 and take a look at the best Apple Watch deals.
When will Apple release watchOS 4?
watchOS 4 will become available for general download this autumn, around September.
We saw a preview of watchOS 4 on 5 June at WWDC 2017. After the announcement, watchOS 4 went into a beta testing phase which will last for several months before the finished software is launched to Apple Watch owners at large.
Developers can download a beta version of watchOS right now: in fact, the third developer beta has been rolled out. But there’s not been a public beta of watchOS for non-developers, as there has been for iOS 11. Here’s how to install the watchOS 4 beta.
watchOS 4 developer beta 3
This was rolled out on 13 July. It’s pretty short on major changes since we’re getting closer to the final version, but there are some cosmetic changes you’ll notice – the spinning firework animation that pops up in Activity when you close a ring now works, for instance – and of course some crucial if boring big fixes.
iDownloadBlog has made a video of the changes, and warns that the current version is a battery killer.
watchOS 4 developer beta 2
This came out on 21 June. It adds the Toy Story watch faces, which weren’t available in the initial beta, and fixes a wide range of bugs that have been spotted so far. 9to5Mac has the full release notes.
watchOS 4 developer beta 1
The original developer beta of watchOS 4 was launched on 5 June, the same night as the WWDC keynote when it was first announced.
When will the watchOS 4 public beta come out?
We don’t think there will be one, although that hasn’t been officially confirmed one way or another. There wasn’t a public beta of watchOS 3, and you’ll note that the Apple Beta Software Program page doesn’t mention watchOS. (It does mention iOS, macOS and tvOS.)
What’s new in watchOS 4?
Here’s a rundown of the new features watchOS 4 brings to your Apple Watch.
Siri watch face
We’re going to start with some new watch faces. Which might sound superficial – but it really isn’t. At least this first one isn’t.
A new ‘Siri face’ will display information personal to you using machine learning, similar to the proactive functionality and contact suggestions in iOS. (Which in our experience are okay but not spectacular, although these things are improving all the time.) Does this mean that Siri on the Watch is going to work when you’re offline? Or can it work based entirely on the information available on-device?
The Siri face displays information using machine learning, to match your routine – so you’ll see the information and app shortcuts that are most relevant to your current needs.
You can rotate the Digital Crown to scroll vertically through the various notifications and apps on the face.
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