Earlier this month we got a hint that the Apple Watch would soon be gaining some form of guided audio workouts, and this was effectively confirmed when the Release Candidate of watchOS 7.3 arrived last week.
At the time, however, there was no word on when the new feature might actually arrive — only that the upcoming new versions of watchOS 7.3 and iOS 14.4 were laying the groundwork for it. In fact, all that the release notes really gave us was that it would provide “an audio experience in the Workout app where guests share inspiring stories as you walk.”
However, as an indication that we may see watchOS 7.3 released to the public sooner rather than later, Apple has officially announced “Time to Walk” and provided some details on exactly what the new Fitness+ service will entail.
While all of Apple’s Fitness+ instructors are a great bunch of folks who are clearly becoming celebrities in their own right, it’s fair to say that most of us probably never heard of these people before Apple launched these new video workouts.
However, in the case of Time to Walk, it appears that Apple has tagged actual celebrities to contribute their voices and stories to the service, in the hopes that these will encourage users to get out and walk more often.
Right off the bat, Apple is highlighting personalities such as country music legend Dolly Parton, NBA star Draymond Green, Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba (of Orange Is the New Black fame), and pop musician Shawn Mendes, who will headline the first four episodes of Time to Walk when it launches later today.
It also appears that the stories won’t just be audio streams of these celebrities talking; Apple notes that they’ll be sharing “thoughtful and meaningful stories, photos, and music” during your walk. The stories themselves are also described as “personal, life-shaping moments” that the guests share while they themselves are on outdoor walks through “locations that are meaningful to them.”
The narrative comes to life through photos that appear on Apple Watch, perfectly timed to amplify a corresponding moment the guest shares.
Photos will appear on the Apple Watch to illustrate key moments in each narrative (shown above), and at the end each guest will introduce a short playlist of their favourite and most inspiring songs, effectively allowing the walking workout to be extended for even longer.
In its announcement, Apple also shares additional background on its four debut celebrity guests, highlighting how each of them have been inspired by getting out and walking, and how they hope to share that inspiration with others, especially during this season of isolation.
I think it’s so important to be able to get out and walk if we can during this time. I do my best thinking when I walk. And while many of us feel confined during this time, I’m hopeful that people will take a walk down memory lane with me and we can all feel a little more freedom taking the time to walk together.Dolly Parton
Apple promises to release new episodes each Monday until at least the end of April, presumably featuring additional celebrity guests, and although it’s not yet clear what will happen after that, every new episode will be available on demand so Fitness+ users can call them up as often as they like.
How to Get ‘Time to Walk’ on the Apple Watch
Time to Walk is rolling out today, although it may not appear for everyone at the same time. When it does arrive, it will show up directly in the Workout app on the Apple Watch, allowing users to start an episode directly from there.
A featured episode will appear as a new workout right above the rest, and users can tap on the button in the top-right corner to access the entire list of available Time to Walk workouts.
A cloud icon or progress indicator in the bottom left corner indicates if the episode has yet to be downloaded to your Apple Watch or is in the process of being transferred, and an “On Watch” section at the bottom of the list will collect those workouts that are available for offline listening.
Once you begin playing an episode, a standard Outdoor Walk workout will otherwise begin (or an Outdoor Wheelchair workout for those who use a wheelchair, in which case the feature will also be labelled “Time to Push”). Users will be able to walk or push at their own pace, listening through their paired AirPods, Beats, or Bluetooth headphones.
The episodes themselves are expected to be 25–40 minutes in length, and once they’ve been downloaded to the Apple Watch a Wi-Fi or cellular connection is no longer required, nor do you even need to take your iPhone out on your walk with you.
You’ll also be able to preview the Time to Walk workouts in the iOS Watch app, where you can see a brief celebrity bio, a list of the songs in their recommended playlist, and the total duration of the workout, divided into talk time and music playback time.
An “Add” button allows you to download the workout directly to your Apple Watch, including not only the narrative but also the selected music tracks from the celebrity playlist. This changes to “Remove” for workouts that have already been downloaded to your Apple Watch, allowing you to take them off when you’re done with them in order to free up space.
What’s interesting is that Apple’s announcement makes no mention of watchOS 7.3 being a requirement for Time to Walk, which suggests that it may in fact be available to users on watchOS 7.2 and iOS 14.3 — the minimum requirements for Apple Fitness+ in general. Although the release notes for watchOS 7.3 RC implied that Time to Walk was a new feature in that version, it’s possible that the update only adds the ability to download new workouts to the watch automatically, since that’s the only specific setting for the service within watchOS 7.3 and iOS 14.4.
As with the Apple Fitness+ service, Time to Walk is only available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S., and requires an Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with an iPhone 6s or later along with a set of AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones.