The software update due this fall offers some major health and fitness updates—they may just convince you to scoop up the fitness tracker once and for all

By Kylie Gilbert
Updated: June 14, 2016

Still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the Apple Watch? After hearing the updates announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote address yesterday, you may be ready to drop some dough. The latest software, WatchOS3, will be released for download this fall. In addition to new watch faces and navigation updates, it will introduce three game-changing health and fitness features. (Psst... Here's how to find the best fitness tracker for your personality.)

You know Fitbit's function allowing you and your friends to go toe-to-toe on steps for the week (better known to some as who's better at walking around their living room before bed)? Now you'll be able to do the same with watchOS 3. Tapping into the power of 'motivation through social engagement' when it comes to health and fitness, you can share your Activity rings, finished workouts, and earned achievements with family and friends, and engage in a little friendly competition. You can also share your info with your personal trainer, if you so choose, by simply sending your activity through the phone's text message capability.

The Activity app-which monitors how often you move, exercise, and stand throughout the day-is also getting a major upgrade. The app will now be optimized for those in wheelchairs. As Apple explains, wheelchair pushes will contribute to all-day calorie goals, the "time to stand" reminder will appear as "time to roll" and there will also be dedicated wheelchair-specific workouts. It's certainly a step forward in making fitness trackers and apps more disability-friendly and encouraging all bodies to move.

And lastly, Apple is jumping on the meditation bandwagon with a brand new "Breathe" app that encourages users to participate in guided deep breathing sessions throughout the day (you can even set up reminders that nudge you). "The beautiful, calming visualization and haptic cues guide users through deep, full breaths in sessions lasting one to five minutes and on completion, they will receive a heart rate summary," the press release explains.

While they aren't the first to put stress before steps (we put mindfulness wearable Spire to the test last year), and the current watch software does already allow you to get your daily dose of stress-relief with third-party apps such as 3-Minute Mindfulness, the new Breathe app makes the whole mindfulness experience much more integral for Apple Watch wearers who may be more concerned with their physical health than mental health.

Considering Americans as a whole are more stressed than ever, we can only expect more fitness trackers will be adding mindfulness capabilities stat.


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