WatchOS 11 for Apple Watch: New Training Load, Health Features and More

Apple previews its next Apple Watch update during WWDC 2024.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
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Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lexy Savvides
Lisa Eadicicco
4 min read
Apple Watch Series 9

WatchOS 11 on the Apple Watch.

James Martin/CNET

Apple's next Apple Watch update, WatchOS 11, is official. The company showcased the new software on Monday during its annual WWDC keynote event, held at its Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California.

Apple's WatchOS software updates typically span fitness, health and connectivity, among other areas. Last year, for example, the company updated the user interface with new widgets and added new tools and metrics for cyclists. Before that, it added new stats for runners with WatchOS 9 in 2022. 

Watch this: Apple Watch: New Features Coming in WatchOS 11

WatchOS 11 will be available as a full release in the fall, but you can download a developer beta now. It's compatible with all Apple Watches from the Series 6 and later, and you'll also need an iPhone running iOS 18. Apple dropped support for the Series 4 and 5 with WatchOS 11. 

When paired with an iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max, an Apple Watch running WatchOS 11 will forward summarized notifications to the watch -- one component of Apple Intelligence.

apple watch and iphone
Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Training load

The Apple Watch now offers a way to measure the intensity of your training routine and how it might affect your recovery. Called training load, it uses data like your heart rate, pace and elevation, and combines it with your weight and height to give an estimate of your training effort with a score from 1-10. You're also able to adjust the effort in case it doesn't reflect how you feel.

Training load can better indicate how well your body is doing with your workout routine. This can be helpful when you're training for a marathon or other competitive event, when you may be at risk of overdoing your training or of backing off too soon. Training load is available for many cardio-based workouts, but for workouts where an estimation isn't provided, like strength training, you're able to enter an effort rating. Many other wearables offer a similar view of recovery and training load data, including Garmin watches.

You'll be able to see a weighted average of your training load over a 28 day period, then compare your past seven days of effort against it.

watchOS 11 all out

An example of training load on WatchOS 11.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Pause your activity rings

When you need to take a rest day, or you're sick, the Apple Watch now lets you pause your activity ring progress in WatchOS 11. You'll also be able to further customize activity goals for each day of the week.

Watch this: WWDC 2021 in 11 minutes

Vitals app

The Vitals app is another new place to check on your health metrics, like heart rate. It'll show you how your vitals track over time and whether they fall into a typical range based on your historical data. The app will also alert you when metrics are out of range and provide a tailored message with potential explanations.

apple watch with stats

The Vitals app on WatchOS 11.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

New Double Tap features

Apple has opened up Double Tap to developers. This lets you double tap your thumb and forefinger to interact with apps, like skipping tracks in the music app, or sending a message without touching the screen. Available only on the Series 9 and Ultra 2, Double Tap was available on just a selection of Apple's own apps, but now developers will be able to access the feature. During the keynote presentation, Apple showed off a demo where a third-party baby-tracking app lets you start a timer to track your baby's sleep while the child is in your arms.

Double Tap now also lets you scroll through any app, including Messages and Weather, without touching the screen.

Watch face customizations

WatchOS 11 now has a redesigned Photos watch face that uses machine learning to automatically curate photos it thinks will look best as a watch face. It will customize the photo, including creating a sense of depth in the image, then present options for a clock, with different fonts and colors to display the time. Dynamic mode is a new option that automatically gives you a new watch face image every time you raise your wrist.

Live Activities coming to the Apple Watch

Smart Stack first appeared on the Apple Watch with WatchOS 10 when you scroll with the digital crown or swipe up from the watch face. In WatchOS 11 it now shows additional widgets, including Live Activities at the top of the stack. For instance, if you're following a sports game, the score will appear at the top of your stack, or if you call an Uber, the ETA appears. Music app Shazam, the Photos app, and Distance are also new to the Smart Stack, and you'll also see severe weather alerts like thunderstorm warnings.

The Apple Watch also now has a Translate app, and that widget appears in the Smart Stack automatically when you travel to a location with a different language. Dictate into the watch and hear a response in another language.

Extend the Utility of Your Old Apple Watch

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More WatchOS 11 features

  • Cycle tracking now supports more options for pregnancy tracking, including gestational age.
  • The Workout app also now supports a check-in feature, so you can notify friends and family when you get home from a workout.
  • Custom workouts are now supported for pool swims.
  • Apple Watch supports more interactive widgets for smart home devices.
  • Apple Maps supports offline turn-by-turn navigation for custom walking routes and hikes for all US national parks.
  • Tap to Cash lets you send and receive Apple Cash by holding the Apple Watch near another watch or iPhone.