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These new updates make the Apple Watch a hiking must-have

Apple's new hiking app features will improve your hiking experience this fall

An Apple watchOS 10 displaying up-to-date hiking information
Courtesy of Apple

Since its release in 2015, the Apple Watch has sustained its place as one of — if not the — most popular pieces of wearable tech on the market. If you’re already an Apple Watch convert, then you won’t need to be told why this is, but if you’re using the latest iPhone and haven’t added the watch to your setup, now is the perfect time to do so. That’s because Apple is promising an updated operating system that it says will be the most significant since it introduced the very first watch.

The watchOS 10 release date is set for fall 2023, and for all your tech-savvy outdoorsmen, it brings the Apple Watch back to the forefront of the outdoor world. Alongside improved cycling metrics, a cleaner interface, and mental health insights, the watchOS 10 app redesign goes deep into the hiking world.

What’s the outcome? Perhaps the most powerful navigation and safety device your wrist can carry on the trail. Here’s what the new Apple Watch hiking app has to offer.

Hiking waypoints
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Plan your hike with the watchOS 10

We’ll start with the planning phase of your hike. The redesigned hiking app features in-depth trail information that allows you to search for trails nearby and find out important information before you set out. Want to know the distance, elevation, difficulty, and terrain, and even see photos of your chosen trail? It’s all available at your fingertips. You can then use full downloadable maps — available offline with the watchOS 10 update — to navigate you to the trailhead and start your hike.

Navigate with the Apple Watch hiking app

And the tech doesn’t stop once you hit your stride. While I would never advocate going without the navigation essentials, the new Apple Watch hiking app features fully topographical maps, so you can leave your map and compass in your pack. These topographical maps show contour lines, hill shading, elevation details, points of interest, trails, and trailhead markers. You can even tap those trailhead markers to return to the information screen.

Apple has also completely redesigned the hiking app compass, giving it an elevated 3D view. This compass view does far more than point you in the right direction. The elevated 3D view shows you your saved waymarkers — campsites, POI, etc. — and crucial safety information, such as the last place you had cellphone data on your carrier and spots where you can make emergency phone calls on any carrier. This information can, and surely will, save lives on the trail.

These updates to the Apple Watch hiking app work alongside the cleaner interface to give you the most information possible both before and during your hike. These features aren’t just cosmetic. Sure, the maps and compass look impressive, but the prime focus of Apple’s redesign is to give you a more active and safe lifestyle, and these features are crucial to improving your hiking experience. Head to Apple now to learn more, check model compatibility, and upgrade your hiking this year.

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Tom Kilpatrick
A London-born outdoor enthusiast, Tom took the first ticket out of suburban life. What followed was a twelve-year career as…
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