Apple retail employees invited to evaluate watchOS 3 wheelchair activity tracking

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In efforts to improve watchOS 3 prior to release this fall, Apple has invited retail store employees to test a new activity tracking feature specifically designed to improve the Apple Watch experience for users in wheelchairs.

At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, director of Fitness and Health Technologies Jay Blahnik said the company went to great lengths to integrate new wheelchair activity settings into watchOS 3. Specifically, the forthcoming OS includes two wheelchair workout apps, a setting to switch "Time to Stand" notifications to "Time to Roll," and Activity ring optimization.

Built on data gathered through studies and testing conducted in partnership with the Challenge Athletes Foundation and the Lakeshore Foundation, the new features are included in a beta that went out to developers this month. According to a memo sent out to Apple Store employees last week, Apple is interested in augmenting its dataset ahead of wide release, reports MacRumors.

Apple has in the past opened select beta programs to its retail workers, in particular early versions of iOS and OS X, though watchOS is normally reserved for developers due to downgrade restrictions.

Wheelchair support will debut this fall alongside a bevy of new watchOS features that will fundamentally change the way users interact with Apple Watch hardware. For example, Apple remapped the dedicated side button to invoke an app dock instead of Digital Touch contacts, while new features like Breathe and various workout enhancements promise a more complete health tracking experience.

Apple's watchOS 3 is expected to see release this fall alongside iOS 10 and macOS Sierra. For more on Apple's upcoming Apple Watch software update, follow AppleInsider's "Inside watchOS 3" series.