What’s in store for Apple Watch Series 4? [Wish List]

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What cool new features are hidden inside that slimmer Apple Watch Series 4 frame? [Mockup]
What cool new features will be hidden inside that slimmer Series 4 frame?
Photo illustration: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

In just a few weeks, Apple looks set to unveil the biggest upgrade yet to its popular wearable.
While the external appearance of Apple Watch has not changed much since its launch, recent leaks suggest we can expect a new form factor with a larger screen when Apple Watch Series 4 lands.

In the Photoshop mockup above, I’ve shown how Apple’s next watch might look if it slimmed down and added a larger screen (as the rumormongers predict). That would be pretty cool, but there are plenty of other potential upgrades I’m excited about.

Here’s my top 10 wish list for Apple Watch Series 4 new features.

Apple Watch Move ring vs. Exercise ring: What’s the difference?

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Don't get your Move and Exercise rings mixed up
Don't get your Move and Exercise rings mixed up
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Closing your Apple Watch Activity Rings can become such an obsession that it’s easy to forget why you’re doing it. It’s not just to keep Tim Cook happy in his giant, ring-shaped office in Cupertino. So, what does it really mean to close a ring?

The Stand goal is obvious. We all know we shouldn’t sit around on our asses all day. But how about the Move and Exercise rings? Aren’t they kind of the same thing? Actually, no. They’re very different, and understanding that difference is massively important if you want to achieve your fitness goals.

Rowing with Apple Watch is like two workouts in one. Time to grab an oar.

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Join the crew with Apple Watch
Join the crew with Apple Watch
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If running and swimming with Apple Watch don’t rock your boat, you should give rowing a try. It combines all the benefits of cardio and strength training, and you get to do it in a boat. OK, well you’re probably more likely to use a rowing machine at your local gym, but it’s still pretty cool.

The stats that Apple Watch’s built-in Workout app provides for rowers are very limited, so you might want to consider third-party alternatives. Plus, it takes some practice to develop a good rowing technique. But it’s totally worth the effort. Not only will rowing help build a ripped physique. Without this essential skill, you might one day find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Why Apple Watch Series 4 will probably get better GPS

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New running features coming in watchOS 5 are all about pace -- the Achilles' heel of Apple Watch.
New running features coming in watchOS 5 are all about pace -- the Achilles' heel of Apple Watch.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple took the wraps off watchOS 5 last week at WWDC, revealing loads of new features that we can look forward to this fall. Among them were some big improvements for runners: Cadence, Rolling Mile Pace and Custom Pace Alerts.

What I find most exciting about these new features is that I think they hint at a much-needed hardware upgrade coming in Apple Watch Series 4, which is expected to debut this fall. Here’s why.

This hidden Apple Watch stat tells you whether to exercise or rest

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Heart Rate Variability will help make your workouts more effective
Heart Rate Variability will help make your workouts more effective
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Imagine if your Apple Watch could tell you which days were best for you to do a workout, and what kind of workout you should do. Well it can, sort of, thanks to a hidden feature that few people have yet discovered or know how to use.

Heart rate variability, or HRV, is a new metric that reveals your stress level and whether you have recovered from your last workout. It has been added to lots of high-end sports watches in recent years, including Apple Watch since watchOS 4 & iOS 11.

Here’s how you can use it to optimize your training, reduce your risk of injury, and know when to take a well-earned rest day.

Strength is the missing Activity Ring. Here’s how you can close it.

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Strength training is currently Apple’s weakness
Strength training is currently Apple’s weakness
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The Activity Rings on your Apple Watch don’t provide a complete picture of your fitness. There is one important ring missing: Strength. The Rock didn’t get ripped just by standing up once an hour. And both the Exercise and Move rings essentially measure the same thing: cardio.

As any fitness expert will tell you, an effective workout program should combine cardio with strength training. Here’s why strength is currently Apple Watch’s weakness, and how you can use third-party apps to make sure it isn’t yours as well.

iPhone dependence is killing Apple Watch. Here’s how Cupertino could fix it.

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It’s time to cut the cable and set Apple Watch free
It’s time to cut the cable and set Apple Watch free
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

For activity tracking, fitness and notifications, Apple Watch is pretty awesome, and these days, that’s all most people use it for. Which is a shame.

When it launched back in 2015, Apple had a much bigger vision: a wearable computing platform supporting a rich and varied ecosystem of apps. Like an iPhone strapped to your wrist. But the reality has turned out to be rather different. Instagram is just the latest of a series of high profile apps to desert the platform. So what’s up?

I believe Apple Watch’s dependence on iPhone is holding it back, and the time has come for Cupertino to set its smartwatch free. In this, the third and final part of my wish list of watchOS 5 features, I’ll focus on how I hope Apple will improve setup, apps and iCloud to create a badass stand-alone device.

How Apple Watch could shape up for fitness at WWDC [Mockups]

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It’s about time Apple Watch got a Workout buddy
It’s about time Apple Watch got a Workout buddy
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

When it comes to fitness apps on Apple Watch, sometimes it feels like Cupertino is running before it can walk. Fancy new features like Heart Rate Recovery are very welcome, but a few of the basics remain missing.

Apple could make major strides when it releases watchOS 5. So in the second of three posts about the future of watchOS, I’ll focus on five essential fitness features I’m hoping we’ll see at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

The watchOS improvements I want to see at WWDC [Mockups]

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How Apple could give watchOS a tune-up
How Apple could give watchOS a tune-up.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

In the three short years since Apple Watch debuted, Cupertino has massively improved its smartwatch. Remember the early days, when Glances took ages to load, only to show out-of-date information? When the Fitness app refused to stay in the foreground during a workout? Or when the side button launched a doodling app?

Since the launch, Apple has rolled out big upgrades to watchOS every year at its Worldwide Developers Conference. But there is still loads more that could be done to really unleash Apple Watch’s full potential.

With this year’s WWDC confirmed for June, here’s my wish list of the all the new watchOS stuff I’m hoping will be announced in San Jose, California. It’s a pretty long list, so I’ve broken it down into three separate posts, starting with usability. In followup posts, I’ll focus on fitness, apps and setup.

Take your running to new heights with the altimeter in Apple Watch Series 3

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Workout segments in watchOS 4, combined with the altimeter in Series 3 males your Apple Watch the perfect companion for hill training.
Workout segments in watchOS 4, combined with the altimeter in Series 3 males your Apple Watch the perfect companion for hill training.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Are you taking full advantage of all the neat new features in your shiny Series 3 Apple Watch? Cellular connectivity grabbed the headlines, but that isn’t the only hardware addition Cupertino managed to cram into a wearable that was already bristling with sensors.

Apple Watch Series 3 models also boast a barometric altimeter. If you think you don’t need one of those, think again. The altimeter makes Series 3 watches the ideal companion for hill workouts. That’s a type of training you really should be doing but probably aren’t.