Apple Invites Retail Employees in Wheelchairs to Test watchOS 3
Apple last week sent out a memo to employees, inviting those in wheelchairs to help the company test an upcoming watchOS 3 feature that adds a dedicated wheelchair mode to the Apple Watch.
With the wheelchair setting, Activity options can be customized for wheelchair users. Wheelchair pushes contribute to all-day calorie goals, there are wheelchair-specific workouts, and the "time to stand" reminders are replaced with "time to roll" reminders.
During the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Apple said wheelchair tracking had been in development for months through a partnership with the Lakeshore Foundation and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which saw 300 people in wheelchairs participating in more than 3,000 hours of activity research, and the beta testing period will give Apple more time to refine and perfect the feature.
In its memo to employees, Apple said it is committed to improving the Apple Watch experience for users in wheelchairs, which is why retail employees in wheelchairs are being invited to test watchOS 3. While retail employees have been invited to test iOS and macOS betas in the past, watchOS 3 betas are restricted to developers and internal corporate testers because downgrading from a watchOS beta is not possible without a proprietary adapter.
It is not clear if employees testing the feature are receiving the same watchOS 3 beta updates as developers, but it seems likely. With the retail beta test and developer testing, Apple is hoping to collect more data on movement and better optimize the new wheelchair exercises available in the workout app.
Apple offers some of the best accessibility features available in smartphones, smart watches, and other devices, and along with wheelchair activity tracking, the company's latest operating system updates bring a range of accessibility improvements to iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.