This Apple Watch watchOS 9.4 tweak is a 'massive shift' for trail runners

Apple Watch Ultra hiking workout
(Image credit: Joe Wituschek)

Apple has made some changes to the way the Apple Watch measures running power in the latest watchOS 9.4 beta, with an expert saying that change is a "massive shift" for one group of runners.

The change has been made in watchOS 9.4 beta 4 and while the update isn't yet ready to be released to the world, it's already in the hands of developers as well as those who are on the public beta program. It'll likely be rolled out to everyone within the next few weeks.

Now, one runner and YouTuber has taken a look at watchOS 9.4 and confirmed that the update has changed how Apple Watches calculate a wearer's running power during a workout.

More power!

DC Rainmaker has detailed the changes on his blog and via a new YouTube video and explains exactly what's gone down.

According to him, Apple has made a couple of main changes to the way it calculates information with one of those specific to running power.

Starting elsewhere for a moment, it's said that the running track workout mode will "snap" to 100m sections if the wearer is within 5m of that distance. But it's the running power change that is deemed a big deal.

For the uninitiated, running power is essentially the measurement, in Watts, of how much energy someone puts out while they're running.

"Running power now includes 'walking' periods (in the Outdoor Run profile specifically)," DC Rainmaker says. "It’s a pretty massive shift for trail runners or anyone else on steep terrain where the Apple Watch would previously fail to measure running power," he adds. "Specifically, scenarios where you might have been exerting significant effort up a steep slope, but Apple wasn’t calculating any running power."

This change will take place on any compatible Apple Watch, whether you're using the latest and best Apple Watch money can buy or something a little older. The watchOS 9.4 update will be available on the Apple Watch Series 4 and newer.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.