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watchOS 6 feature makes Apple Watch a better fitness tracker away from iPhone

A new feature coming to the Apple Watch this fall will make the smartwatch an even better fitness tracker for working out — especially if you’re a fan of exercising without your iPhone.

Starting in watchOS 6, summary data from workouts will be available in the Activity app on the Apple Watch even after you dismiss the summary in the Workout app.

Prior to watchOS 6, summary data on the Apple Watch was only presented once after completing an exercise in the Workout app. You could see a short description of the exercise session in the Activity app, but you needed the Activity app on the iPhone to see more details if you dismissed the summary alert in the Workout app.

Summary data is useful for seeing a recap of different metrics and data points captured during the workout. The new change expands how much the Apple Watch can do independently without the iPhone.

For example, I always prefer to go without my iPhone when I track outdoor runs with my Apple Watch. During a race earlier this year, I wanted to compare my run data to a friend’s run data but my summary was gone. This was frustrating because the watch clearly had the data saved so it could give it to the iPhone, but there wasn’t a way to present it.

Less intelligent sport watches and even third-party workout tracking apps often handled this better.

The way Apple solved it in watchOS 6 on the Apple Watch is perfect. The old low information text description of your workout is now replaced with a button labeled by that text description. Simply tap it to view your workout data summarized without needing your iPhone.

The Activity app on the Apple Watch in watchOS 6 still only shows workout summaries to sessions recorded that day — you still need the Activity app on the iPhone to view older workout summaries — but it’s a big step for a small problem.

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.