Hands-On With watchOS 4: Siri Watch Face, Apple Pay, Activity Improvements, New Workouts and More

This fall Apple plans to introduce an all new version of watchOS, the operating system that runs on the Apple Watch. watchOS 4 is faster, more efficient, includes new tools for developers, and offers up some thoughtful interface refinements.

To get a glimpse of the new features you can expect to see on your Apple Watch when watchOS 4 launches this fall, check out our hands-on video.


watchOS 4 brings a new Siri watch face that offers up dynamic, personalized information that changes based on the time of day. Siri can display weather info, calendar appointments, reminders, HomeKit controls, news alerts, and tons more, right on the watch face.

There's also a new Kaleidoscope watch face that turns any photo into a colorful animation, and Apple's adding a Toy Story face starring animated versions of Woody, Jessie, or Buzz Lightyear.

Apple's redesigned the Dock (accessed by pressing the side button) to be vertical instead of horizontal, and there's a new option to view all your apps in a list. There are also new complications and a new flashlight option in Control Center, which lights up the Apple Watch's display.

Apple wants to do more to motivate you to exercise in watchOS 4, so the Activity app will send alerts to let you know how close you are to completing a goal and what you need to do to reach it. There are also new animations to offer visual rewards and personalized monthly challenges based on your workout history.

The Workout app has a revamped interface that makes it easier to start a workout, and there's a new High Intensity Interval Training option, along with new options for the swim workout. Starting in the fall, watchOS 4 will let the Apple Watch interface with gym equipment for two-way real-time data exchange, and with a new Core Bluetooth API, the Apple Watch can connect directly to Bluetooth devices like glucose monitors.

Other features include a redesigned Music app, peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments in Messages, an option for composing emails right on your watch, and a new Apple News app.

Best of all, watchOS 4 apps load faster, are more responsive, and can do more because Apple is opening up more APIs to developers.

watchOS 4 will run on all Apple Watch models, including first-generation, Series 1, and Series 2. For a more detailed look at what to expect in the update, check out our watchOS 4 roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

Kaibelf Avatar
49 months ago
Toy Story and Kaleidoscope Watch Faces. So much innovation Timmy can swim in it.
Don't you ever get sick of picking up two things out of the ten discussed and pretending like the rest didn't exist? Or was the video just too long to understand?
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Menopause Avatar
49 months ago
Toy Story and Kaleidoscope Watch Faces. So much innovation Timmy can swim in it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
49 months ago
Did I miss some bit detailing the Apple Pay-related changes mentioned in the article title?

The new design language is pretty, the Kaleidoscope face seems useful only if you actively do not want to know the time, the Toy Story faces are novelty I suppose, the Siri face could be genuinely useful _if_ it does a really good job of presenting really relevant information (which remains to be seen). I'm pleased that it'll all still run on my series-0 watch.

The bit about being able to crop pictures for/to watch faces from the share sheet is nice. I don't generally use photo faces because there's just not enough information.

I'd still like to see some new faces that break from analog watch tradition and show the time in new ways (say, a 24 hour face with midnight at the bottom and sun/moon visibility shown as colored "pie slices" with appointments and alarms along the edge, or a face with concentric circles of dots for hour/minute/second). It like to see some thought put into novel ways of showing me the day other than aping the faces of timepieces of previous centuries, that were bound to those presentations by mechanical limitations. Many of the faces available now use the watch in a manner similar to the evolutionary "iPod telephone" mockups we saw before the revolutionary iPhone came out. If they'd let me code my own watch faces, I'd do so happily, but they're not giving us the tools, so it's on them to provide innovative faces.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DblHelix Avatar
49 months ago
Just give us a watch face studio with more options and the ability to install 3rd party faces, offer faces for sale from big name watchmakers
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bluespark Avatar
49 months ago
So they are still selling this stupid product? Until this thing can be used without being tethered to a phone, it is utterly redundant and useless.
I certainly love mine, and I find it very useful even when not near my phone. Maybe it's not your cup of tea, but useless it is not.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bluespark Avatar
49 months ago
Many, many of us want stylish watch faces with room for complications and innovative watch faces that tell the time in new ways -- as you might see now with some of the modern, high-end, analog watch makers. Not all of us are kids or are using our watches only for workouts!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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