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Pausing Apple Watch rings is the best WWDC24 feature reveal

Sometimes tech is about little things that are actually big things. Throwaway details that are bullet points on a feature list yet have the potential to be transformative. By which I mean, Apple has decided to stop being an inhuman authoritative robot and will in watchOS 11 let you pause your Apple Watch rings. Finally.

For the longest time, Apple’s stance had been that it was important to be consistent with its smartwatch. With everything. You were at the behest of your wrist-based overlord, doing its bidding. And it determined your life – like the face on your wearable despot – should run like clockwork. Go to sleep at the same time, every day. Wake at precisely the same moment, every day. Do the same amount of exercise, every single day, until you melted into a pit of despair.

Ran a marathon the day before? Your Apple Watch would fume as the follwing day you decided to have a bit of a rest. “LAZY!” it would shriek, before merrily detonating your exercise streak. Twisted an ankle? “NO EXCUSE!” it would bark, setting fire to stand and move goals, and making mental notes to in future double the number of annoying notifications you’d receive.

Ring in the changes

Apple’s David Clark, probably locked out of his giant house due to not completing his Apple Watch rings.

At WWDC24, all this changed. David Clark – Senior Director, watchOS Engineering – had seemingly been locked out of his palatial mansion and had to deliver his part of the keynote next to some bushes. Perhaps he had displeased his Apple Watch. Nonetheless, he gamely outlined how he – and all of us – will later this year get the last laugh. New personalisation features will let you adjust your Activity rings per day – or pause them entirely.

So if you don’t fancy slogging along on a Sunday, you won’t have to. Or if you need more encouragement to stand during a week of desk work, that’s possible too. As someone who last year lost my Apple Watch streak due to the infallibility of the system, I think this is great. And I’m sure it’ll chime with the many folks I heard from after that piece was published, who’d expressed their own frustration with Apple’s rigid approach.

Streaks had been broken due to people having the audacity to be on a plane, moving time zones, or spending a quality day being horribly ill in a bathroom. Now, though, there’s a broken streak we can all get behind: the end to the Apple Watch’s one of over 3,000 days that treated everyone like robots.

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