New Apple Watch features coming in WatchOS 7.4: Two to get excited about

Angela Lang/CNET

The Apple Watch will soon make unlocking your iPhone less of a hassle while wearing a mask. It’ll also bring AirPlay 2 compatibility to Apple’s new Fitness Plus workout service. Apple hasn’t revealed the official launch date for its next round of software updates, but the public beta of WatchOS 7.4 gives us a glimpse of all the new features we can expect to arrive on the Apple Watch in the next few weeks. 

Read more: iOS 15: Every rumor about Apple’s new operating system we’ve heard

Unlock with Apple Watch 

With the latest update to WatchOS 7.4 (and iOS 14.5 on the iPhone), you’ll be able to opt in to a feature on the iPhone that lets you use the Apple Watch to authenticate Face ID when your face is covered

To activate the feature, both the Apple Watch and the iPhone need to be running the latest version of their respective software and must be password-protected. 

Toggle the feature on the iPhone under the Face ID and passcode option in the settings and make sure your Apple Watch is unlocked and on your wrist. You may be required to type in your password on the first try, but after this you should be able to swipe up to unlock the iPhone with Face ID.

The Watch will give you an alert and haptic feedback to let you know your iPhone has been unlocked.

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Cast Fitness Plus on Airplay 2 devices


Fitness Plus gives you two types of workout recommendations: Either more of what you like or something new to balance out your routine. 

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

If you have an Apple Watch and you’re trying out Apple’s new Fitness Plus service, you’ll now have more ways to work out. You can now cast the Apple Watch workout service on any device or TV with AirPlay 2. At launch, the service was only available to view on an iPhone, an iPad or a newer version of the Apple TV

You’ll still need to select a workout in the Fitness Plus app on your iPhone or iPad. Then either press the casting icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen or select screen mirroring in the quick settings section to cast to a device. 

The Apple Watch will get many of the same features found in iOS 14.5, including the 217 new emoji and the option to change your default music. Apple also released updates for iPadOS and TVOS.

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