The next version of the operating system for the Apple Watch - watchOS 7 - will arrive this autumn bringing many new features such as sleep tracking, handwashing detection, and new types of workouts.

Here's what you can expect in watchOS 7, and when it will appear on your wrist.

When will watchOS 7 be released?

You can already get watchOS 7 - if you are a developer. The developer beta version of watchOS7 was available for registered developers via the Apple Developer program on 22 June. We look at the process for installing watchOS here.

For the first time Apple will also be making the watchOS beta available as part of the Public Beta Program. We have details about how to join the Apple Beta Program here. The watchOS beta is expected to arrive soon - Apple has already released public betas for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.

If you want to install the Public Beta when it arrives join Apple's beta program here.

The final version of the software will arrive in full this autumn for Apple Watch Series 3 to Series 5 paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14. You can see a preview of watchOS 7 over at Apple.

We expect that the operating system update will arrive at the same time as iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, we expect this to happen between 14 and 18 September based on previous years.

watchOS7 release date and new features: WWDC

Will my Apple Watch get watchOS 7?

Apple Watch Series 3 to Series 5 will work with watchOS 7, paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14 (or later). The new Apple Watch Series 6 should, of course, also have compatibility when it is released in September.

The original series Watch (or Series 0 as it's also known) will miss out on watchOS 7, as it didn't make the cut for watchOS 6. That also leaves Series 1 and Series 2 behind. Owners of the Series 2 will find this particularly galling, as the devices are still perfectly usable in 2020, but it could simply be a case that Apple wants to move forward in terms of features and the older hardware wouldn't be able to cope with the demands.

For more details on this rumour, read Apple to drop support for Apple Watch Series 2.

What new features will there be in watchOS 7?

WatchOS 7 is a sizeable upgrade over its predecessor now with a particular focus on personalization, health, and fitness. With watchOS 7 Apple has introduced several features that have long been on the wishlist of Apple Watch users.

Multiple complications 

WWDC 2020 announced major advancement in watchOS 7's complications. Watch owners can now access multiple complications and infinitely customize the look based on their priorities and interests. New parents, for instance, can organize multiple complications in a single face for a detailed look at bottle-feeding, breast-feeding, or pumping metrics – and such configuration can be shared.

This comes as a direct development of the Infograph, which allowed up to 8 complications and first appeared on the Apple Watch 4.

watchOS 7 will also include the Chronograph Pro face with a tachymeter which can display details on speed based on time traveled over a distance.

Chronograph Pro

Face Sharing 

In a new feature called Face Sharing, watchOS 7 will allow users to share and adapt new face configurations onto their own devices as curated by third party apps, social media, websites and even personal contacts. 

Previously, if a friend of yours had their watch face set up in a way that you really like, you'd have to ask them how they put together that particular configuration and then try to emulate it on your own Watch. WatchOS 7 allows your friend to now send their layout to you and have your device the automatically adapt that arrangement.

Sleep Monitoring

In a major step forward, sleep tracking is finally a reality on the Apple Watch. With Watch OS 7, Apple offers what it calls a "holistic" approach to sleep hygiene, including features to build a healthy pre-bedtime routine. WatchOS 7 works with wind down features on iOS 14 that reduces distractions and helps users personalize a night routine.

Machine learning on watchOS 7 will allow the Apple Watch to monitor sleep quality using the accelerometer to measure the wearer's micro-movements, which indicates the user's wake or sleep breathing patterns. Users can see visualizations of their sleeping patterns in the morning, along with trends. 

Watch OS 7

Alarms on watchOS 7 allows users to wake up using gentle audio or haptic feedback, which buzzes so you don't disturb your partner. 

Sleep monitoring has been long anticipated. Last year, Apple teased or accidentally revealed a Sleep app that Twitter user Daniel Marcinkowski spotted in a screenshot for the Alarms app.

watchOS7 release date and new features: Sleep App

Workout Types and Fitness

The biggest addition to Watch OS 7 workout types is the inclusion of Dance, which tracks popular dance styles like Hip Hop, Latin, Bollywood and cardio-based dance. Using the accelermometer and gyroscope watchOS 7 can now detect the differences and combinations of upper and lower body movements and combine this with heart rate data.

Also new to workouts are Core Training, Functional Strength and Cooldown.

The Activity app has also been newly branded as Fitness and will continue to provide users metrics on daily activities, workouts, awards, competitions and trends.

Handwashing detection

In a direct response to Covid-19, the Watch OS 7 can now automatically detect hand-washing. Using the motion sensor and mic it can pick up the sound of squirting soap or water and prompt you to wash your hands for 20 seconds.

Maps

Also possibly as a response to Covid-19, iOS 14's improvements on maps will expand to watchOS 7 with greater optimization for cycling directions – a welcome update as most gear up for commutes while avoiding public transit. 

Watch OS 7's attention towards cycling will provide users details like time and distance of travel along with information on bike lanes, stairs, and when you might need to dismount to walk your bike. You can also see details on inclines to avoid routes that are hillier than others.

WatchOS 7 features that didn't get announced

Blood Oxygen measurement

Another health-related feature that could make its debut in watchOS 7 is the ability to measure the oxygen content in your blood via the heart monitor. This rumour seems to have originated from 9to5Mac after it saw parts of the code for the upcoming iOS 14.

This could be very important for some, as the measurement would indicate whether the wearer is in danger of cardiac arrest or potential respiratory problems. It's unclear whether the technology required would be limited to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 or not, but if older models in the range can access the feature then it will be an impressive, and free, upgrade.

watchOS 7 release date and new features: Blood Oxygen levels

Parental controls

Finally, with many parents now passing their older Apple Watches down to their children, Apple is reportedly preparing some parental control features for the new version of watchOS. These should include restrictions on apps, times the device can be used, and age-related access to content. Expect something similar to the ScreenTime feature in iOS.

Will watchOS 7 feature a new design?

Whenever a new version of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS or watchOS is due, speculation is rife over whether Apple will give the software a makeover in terms of aesthetics.

The biggest change announced at WWDC is the inclusion of multiple complications on a single watch face. This is fairly simple compared to more elaborate speculations we've seen, such as @mattbirchler's concept art for the watchOS interface.

These feature an imagined sleep app, customisable rings, and more flexible responses in the Messages app.

watchOS 7 release date and new features: Concept Art

watchOS 7 release date and new features: Concept Sleep App

watchOS 7 release date and new features: Concept iOS Watch App

watchOS 7 release date and new features: Concept Custom Rings

watchOS 7 release date and new features: Concept Messages App