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Best features in watchOS 11 for Apple Watch

Apple set to release watchOS 11 this fall

Apple Watch is getting its yearly feature infusion this fall with tons of updates. Here are our new favorite abilities in watchOS 11.

Each year, most of the world's attention gets laid on iOS which is especially true this year with the addition of Apple Intelligence. But Apple's wrist-worn computer is poised for a big year, too.

Live Activities

On iPhone, Live Activities have been wholly welcomed with the ability to provide real-time information on important events such as where your food delivery is, ride share status, or the score of the football game.

These now arrive on Apple Watch with watchOS 11. They show at the top of the Smart Stack, above your other cards.

Speaking of the Smart Stack, Apple added a ton of new cards that will dynamically appear based on location, time, and other factors.

It will show you when rain is imminent, offer up translation abilities if you travel to a different country, or Shazam when it detects music playing.

New apps for Apple Watch

There are two new apps for Apple Watch this year — Vitals and Translate.

Translate app showing in the Smart Stack
Translate app comes to Apple Watch

The latter is making the jump from iPhone, offering translation abilities for 20 different languages. It will listen to you and speak responses with user control over the speed.

Vitals is entirely new and (finally) gives us a visual way of seeing if many of the metrics Apple Watch is collecting are within line with your norm.

When you wear your Apple Watch at night, Vitals will summarize your heart rate, respiratory rate, wrist temperature, SpO2 levels, and sleep in the morning.

Vitals app on Apple Watch alerting of an outlier
Vitals app is new in watchOS 11

You'll get a little chart with all these values and you'll get an alert if any of them are out of range with suggestions on why they may be irregular.

Workouts & fitness

Turning to fitness, Apple has decided that after ten releases, you're now allowed to pause your streaks.

It's easy to beat streaks at WWDC. But, when not in the field, we've gone to great lengths to preserve our streaks including pushing ourselves while sick or even in the hospital.

Pause streaks with watchOS 11 on iPhone and Apple Watch
You now are allowed to have rest days

We've lost a streak too, for dumb reasons like an extra-long Apple Watch upgrade, cutting short a run of nearly 1,500 days. Now you can pause for any period of time, including rest days.

In watchOS 11, you can also set different goals based on the day. Maybe lower calorie targets during the week but ballooning over the weekend.

Training load that says you're above average for that workout
Training load finally comes to Apple Watch

Training Load is new, comparing your current performance with data over the last 28 days. It will highlight if you're above, below, or on track with your existing threshold.

Workout effort appears after a workout with multiple choices
Workout effort appears after a workout with multiple choices

Post-workout, you get a new effort screen. For the bulk of cardio workouts, it will automatically choose an effort based on how it thinks you did, but you can adjust this manually too.

Finally, Check In is directly integrated into Workout so that it can start and stop with your exercise. No need for an additional step on your iPhone.

Watch faces

There aren't any new watch faces for watchOS 11, to our disappointment. This may be temporary, but we'll have to see for sure in the fall.

Apple did overhaul the Photos face though. It now uses Machine Learning to analyze the photos in your library, trying to find optimal photos to use, as well as suggest compositions.

Many different Photos faces on Apple Watch
Photos faces look even better with watchOS 11

Users still have control over the language, color, size, font, and placement or you can let the watch handle most of that.

Availability & supported devices

These new features are arriving on a variety of devices that include Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Series 9, plus the first and second-generation Apple Watch Ultra.

You can expect a public release this September, alongside Apple's other operating systems.