Apple recently released the first beta of watchOS 10.1, the next major software update for Apple Watch. watchOS 10.1 introduces exciting new capabilities and refinements to the Apple Watch experience. In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at all the major changes and updates coming in watchOS 10.1.
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The watchOS 10.1 beta seeded to developers on October 19, 2023 provides an early glimpse at the new features and improvements Apple has in store for Apple Watch users.
watchOS 10.1 builds upon the watchOS 10 update that was released in September 2022. While watchOS 10 brought substantial changes like new watch faces and enhanced fitness tracking capabilities, watchOS 10.1 represents an incremental update focused on expanding key features and addressing issues.
Apple has not provided an official release date for watchOS 10.1 yet, but it will likely arrive in the coming weeks as a free software update for all compatible Apple Watch models.
As with any beta software release, watchOS 10.1 gives developers time to test their apps against the new APIs and features. Public beta testers can also download the watchOS 10.1 beta profile to get a sneak peek at the changes.
Overview of Key New Features
watchOS 10.1 introduces a fairly modest set of new capabilities rather than any major redesigns. However, there are some notable improvements on tap.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most significant additions in watchOS 10.1:
- Share Contact Information with NameDrop: NameDrop lets Apple Watch users share contact details like phone numbers and email addresses with other Apple Watch owners using proximity detection.
- New Double Tap Gesture: Double tapping the Apple Watch screen now provides quick access to key functions like ending a call or snoozing an alarm.
- Improved Workout Tracking and Customization: The updated Workout app offers additional data like stride length and the ability to create custom workouts.
- Medications Update for Health App: The Health app’s medications feature now lets users scan drug labels to quickly populate dosage information.
Beyond these changes, watchOS 10.1 focuses on general performance improvements, bug fixes, and minor tweaks to the user experience.
Now let’s dive into the details on each of these new features coming in watchOS 10.1.
NameDrop: Seamlessly Share Contact Info
One of the most novel additions in watchOS 10.1 is NameDrop, a new feature that facilitates sharing contact information between Apple Watch users.
Apple designed NameDrop to provide an easy and seamless way to exchange contact details. It works by using proximity detection to trigger a prompt to share your information.
Here’s an overview of how NameDrop works:
- Your contact card including details like phone number and email will need to be filled out in the Contacts app on Apple Watch.
- When another Apple Watch user comes near you, you’ll receive a notification that they are open to sharing contact info via NameDrop.
- If you accept, your contact card details will wirelessly transfer directly to their Apple Watch.
- The process works both ways. If another user has NameDrop set up and comes close to you, you’ll see a prompt asking if you want to receive their contact card.
NameDrop provides a couple major benefits compared to manually exchanging contact info:
- Convenience: The proximity detection and wireless transfer happens automatically without needing to tap through apps or dictate a phone number.
- Privacy: Contact info is shared directly between Apple Watch devices rather than broadcasting to the open Internet. Everything stays completely private.
While simple, NameDrop has the potential to streamline networking and contacting new people you meet in your daily life. The feature could be especially helpful at conferences and industry events.
NameDrop will only work between Apple Watch owners and requires watchOS 10.1 on both devices. Users can control whether they want to turn on NameDrop sharing in the Contacts section of the Apple Watch app on iPhone.
Double Tap Gesture for Quick Actions
Along with NameDrop, watchOS 10.1 adds some convenience by letting users double tap the Apple Watch screen to perform certain functions.
With watchOS 10.1 installed, you’ll be able to quickly execute the following actions with a double tap:
- Answer or end a phone call
- Dismiss or snooze an alarm
- Start or pause a workout
- Start or stop a timer
- Play or pause audio like music or podcasts
- View last app/notification
The new double tap gesture provides a fast way to control your Apple Watch without needing to swipe or open an app. It should be particularly handy for starting or stopping workouts when you don’t have a free hand.
Users will also have the option to disable the double tap feature if they find it inadvertently triggering. The double tap trigger can be toggled on or off under the Accessibility settings.
At launch, double tap will only support those core system functions listed above. However, Apple may expand its capabilities to work with third-party apps in the future.
Enhanced Workout Tracking
watchOS 10.1 brings some useful enhancements to the Workout app and activity tracking capabilities.
One of the key changes is the addition of stride length measurement during walks and runs. Apple Watch can now use its accelerometer and gyroscope to automatically estimate your stride length.
Knowing stride length allows Apple Watch to provide more accurate distance measurements during indoor walk and run workouts when GPS may be unreliable.
watchOS 10.1 also lets you create custom workouts that can combine multiple workout types and settings.
For example, you could make a “soccer practice” workout that includes different segments of walking, running, and kicking drills. The Workout app will seamlessly transition between the different workout modes and track your metrics.
Finally, watchOS 10.1 delivers some small but helpful improvements to workout metrics and customization:
- Greater control over which metrics are displayed during workouts
- ability to change goal metrics like distance or calories mid-workout
- new running metrics like vertical oscillation and contact time
- updated pace algorithm for more accurate real-time pace readings
For runners and athletes, these enhancements will provide greater insight into workouts as well as more flexibility in tracking a wider range of activities.
Medications Support in Health App
The Health app on Apple Watch is gaining medications support in watchOS 10.1. Users will be able to log the medications they take so that information is available in one central place alongside other health data.
WatchOS 10.1 adds the ability to use the iPhone’s camera to scan a medication label and automatically populate the name, dosage, frequency, etc. This should make it much quicker and easier to log new medications you’ve been prescribed.
The updated medications feature also lets users set up schedule reminders for when it’s time to take their next dose. The reminders integrate with Notification Center.
Along with fast label scanning, logging medications on Apple Watch has a couple major benefits:
- Your medication history is securely saved in the Health app and synced across devices.
- Your healthcare providers can see your up-to-date medications list when you share access to Health data.
- Medications can be selected as highlights in the Health app Summary view for quick reference.
The ability to conveniently track medications on Apple Watch ties into Apple’s broader focus on health and wellbeing. And the data could eventually be useful for enhancing features like irregular heartbeat detection.
Additional Improvements and Fixes
In addition to those major new features,it also comes with a variety of smaller refinements and bug fixes.
Here are some other improvements users can expect:
- Optimizations to the Compass app and algorithms for greater accuracy.
- Added support for downloading Apple Podcasts episodes directly to Apple Watch over Wi-Fi or cellular.
- Fixes for issues like inconsistent heart rate measurements during workouts.
- General performance enhancements.
- Improved reliability and connectivity when using Family Setup.
And like any software update, watchOS 10.1 provides security patches and supports the latest emoji characters.
Compatible Apple Watch Models
watchOS 10.1 can be installed on any Apple Watch model capable of running watchOS 10. Here are the compatible devices:
- Apple Watch Series 4 and later
- Apple Watch SE
The following earlier models are not able to update to watchOS 10.1:
- Original Apple Watch
- Apple Watch Series 1
- Apple Watch Series 2
- Apple Watch Series 3
Essentially all Apple Watches released in the last four years will be able to benefit from the new features in watchOS 10.1.
For optimal performance and responsiveness, watchOS 10.1 will run best on newer models like Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE.
How to Install watchOS 10.1
If you’re eager to try out the changes and additions coming in watchOS 10.1, you can install the public beta now ahead of the full release.
Here are the steps to install watchOS 10.1 beta:
- Make sure your compatible Apple Watch is charged to at least 50%.
- Use the Watch app on your paired iPhone to download and install the watchOS 10.1 beta profile.
- Go to General > Software Update to trigger the watchOS 10.1 download.
- Once downloaded, follow the onscreen prompts to install watchOS 10.1 directly on your Apple Watch. The update process may take 15-30 minutes.
Keep in mind beta software comes with risks like bugs, crashes, and instability. Make sure to back up your Apple Watch before updating. The watchOS 10.1 public beta lets you test drive the new features, but you may want to wait for the full release if reliability is crucial.
The Future of watchOS
watchOS 10.1 represents the latest iteration of Apple’s smartwatch operating system. It builds on watchOS 10 and lays the groundwork for more ambitious changes down the road.
Rumors suggest Apple is gearing up for a major redesign of the Apple Watch interface in watchOS 11 expected in 2024. Until then, refinements like watchOS 10.1 will bring helpful improvements.
Going forward, we can expect deeper health and wellness integration along with more comprehensive smart home control capabilities. Independent cellular connectivity and Family Setup suggest the Apple Watch continuing to reduce reliance on iPhone.
With watchOS 10.1 now available in beta and coming soon for general release, Apple Watch users have lots of new features and upgrades to look forward to trying out.
Here’s a quick summary of the main additions coming in watchOS 10.1:
- NameDrop for seamlessly sharing contact info between Apple Watches
- Double tap gesture to quickly perform common actions
- Enhanced workout tracking with stride length, custom workouts, and new metrics
- Medications support with scanning and reminders in the Health app
- Compass and podcast improvements, connectivity fixes, and general refinements
watchOS 10.1 brings helpful improvements to the Apple Watch experience. With direct contact sharing, workout customization, faster access through double tap, and medications tracking, it aims to boost convenience and utility.
For Apple Watch owners, it will be a worthwhile update to take advantage of the latest features and performance optimizations. The new capabilities continue Apple’s innovation and expansion of its smartwatch platform.