Apple adds new health features to iOS and watchOS

The new versions of the operating systems for iPhone and Watch contain some health innovations.


With watchOS 7, Apple Watch manages sleep with a holistic approach. Users can get the amount of sleep they want, go to bed on time and create an evening routine to achieve their sleep goals.

Through the detection of micro-movements from the clock’s accelerometer, which signals breathing during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently detects sleep. Users will so have a view of the previous night’s sleep in the morning, including waking and sleeping periods. A weekly sleep graph will also be available.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a routine helps the body prepare for sleep. In support of this, Wind Down allows Apple Watch and iPhone users to create a personalized routine before going to bed, including setting a specific scene in the Home application, listening to a relaxing soundscape or using a favourite meditation application. In Sleep Mode, Apple Watch turns on Do not disturb and automatically dims the screen at night.

To help users wake up, Apple Watch offers a silent touch alarm or gentle sounds, while the wake-up screen shows the current battery level. If the battery is too low, Apple Watch reminds users to recharge it before going to sleep. Sleep data is encrypted on the device or in iCloud with iCloud sync and is always under user control.

Wash your hands

Washing your hands properly for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of disease. Apple Watch uses motion sensors, microphone and machine learning to automatically detect hand washing movements and sounds. It then starts a 20-second countdown and, if the user finishes earlier, is asked to continue washing. Apple Watch can also remind the user to wash their hands when they return home.

The Health application on the iPhone will show the frequency and duration of hand washing for the user, as well as information on the importance of hand washing in relation to overall health. The sounds used to detect hand washing are not automatically recorded or saved by the Health application or Apple Watch.

Training Types and Fitness Apps

With watchOS 7 the Workout app, one of the most popular on Apple Watch, will detect four new workout types supported by custom motion algorithms and heart rate: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training and Cooldown.

To correctly calculate the caloric effort for dance, Apple Watch combines heart rate sensor data and accelerometer and gyroscope inputs to measure the different body movements typical of dance. This type of training has been validated and tested with four of the most popular dance styles for exercise: Bollywood, cardio dance, hip-hop and Latin.


After the introduction of the Noise app in watchOS 6 that measures ambient sound levels and noise exposure duration, watchOS 7 adds additional hearing health support with audio notifications through headphones.

Users can now understand how loud media listening is through headphones with iPhone, iPod touch or Apple Watch and when these levels can impact hearing over time.

When total headphone listening has reached 100% of safe weekly listening, Apple Watch provides notification to the wearer. This check is based on World Health Organization recommendations.

Users can also see how long they have been exposed to high decibel levels each week in the Health app on their iPhone and can control the maximum volume level of the headphones. No audio from the headset’s audio notification feature is recorded or saved by the Health app or Apple Watch.


The new Mobility Metrics available in the Health application include low radius cardiofitness, walking speed, stair descent speed, stair ascent speed, six-minute walk, double support time, step length and asymmetry.

These metrics are important for the clinical community to monitor patients’ ability to move safely and easily with age. Usually measured only in the laboratory, these parameters can be uniquely measured by Apple Watch and iPhone, and used by developers such as Zimmer Biomet, a musculoskeletal health care company, in patient care and mobility management tools.

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