WatchOS 9 will bring a slew of new features and improvements to the Apple Watch.
An AFib History tool has been included to the watchOS 9, as well as more sleep-tracking data and a medication management app for the Apple Watch.
Many of the capabilities we expect to see on the rumoured Apple Watch 8 will be available to current owners of existing Apple Watch models thanks to these and other enhancements.
But even though little was revealed regarding the new Apple Watch release date or other facts about impending Apple Watch wearables, there is something to be said about a better software experience. When it comes to smartwatches, watchOS is a critical component of Apple’s wearable experience.
WatchOS 9 will be released to the public in the autumn, but in the meantime, here’s all you need to know about the new features in this release.
watchOS 9 cheat sheet: top new Apple Watch features
- Four new Apple Watch faces
- Added running metrics
- Track heart rate zones while working out
- Atrial fibrillation history for those diagnosed with AFib
- Support for six new keyboard languages
- Sleep Stages tracking added to Sleep app
- Family Setup adds HomeKit support
- Notifications for medication management with new Medications app
- Slimline notification banners
- Redesigned Calendar app
- Redesigned Dock
- New Quick Actions with AssistiveTouch
watchOS 9 release date
There’s no official word on when watchOS 9 will be available. New watchOS versions are normally released at the same time as Apple’s new smartwatch is unveiled in the fall.
Beta versions of watchOS 9 are expected to be made accessible to both developers and the general public before the final product is released. Public release is scheduled for July, however the development version is now accessible. On July 1, 2021, the first public beta of watchOS 8 was made available to the general audience.
watchOS 9 supported devices — which Apple Watch models will be compatible?
Apple threw us a curveball when it came to watchOS 9 compatible devices. At the very least, we were aware that watchOS 9 would be coming to the Apple Watch 7 and Apple Watch SE soon. Even though it’s still available new from Apple, the Apple Watch 3 isn’t eligible for the annual upgrade.
WatchOS 9 will instead be installed to Apple Watch 4, 5, and 6 models. It’s also worth noting that the latest watchOS will be available for free download. Updates to Apple’s software are free.
WatchOS 9 compatibility is covered in full here.
watchOS 9 new watch faces
Although this may seem like a lot, there are actually four new watch faces in watchOS 9. Additionally, the Lunar watch face allows the user to follow a pre-modern calendar, such as the Islamic calendar, in addition to the current Astronomy face.
Joy Fulton’s moving digital clock and the Metropolitan watch face, which has typography with lettering that stretches and many colour possibilities, are the other two watch faces available.
More watch faces are gaining complications, as well as the ability to pin your most frequently used applications to the home screen. Portrait now supports dogs and cats as well.
watchOS 9 running and other workout features
The Apple Watch is making a strong case for itself versus the greatest running watches on the market. It’s now easier than ever to keep track of your running progress thanks to a slew of new running measures. In addition to segments, splits, elevation, and the other typical metrics, the new live workout interface also displays measures such as vertical oscillation, stride length, and ground contact time.
Heart rate zones are being added to Apple Watch workout tracking. Knowing how hard you’re working (and if you’re recuperating adequately) during exercise can be gauged by keeping an eye on your heart rate zones.
The new Custom workout tool will take your heart rate zones into account. Your heart rate and distance can be used to create a bespoke workout that sends notifications to your wrist. As part of your training, you’ll run with a power target, or a range of effort that you can maintain. If you run the same route frequently, your Apple Watch will be able to automatically compare your performance over time.
Finally, triathletes will benefit from a new Multisport exercise type that seamlessly transitions between swimming, riding, and running.
watchOS 9 sleep cycles
Since its first release two years ago, Apple Watch sleep tracking has become steadily more accurate. The Sleep app has been updated to include sleep stage or cycle tracking in watchOS 9. It should now be possible for the Apple Watch to tell you in what stage of sleep you are, thanks to the accelerometer and heart rate monitor. For example, you’ll be able to track how long you spent in each stage overnight and how long it took you to get out of bed.
watchOS 9 AFib History
Atrial fibrillation, or abnormal heartbeats, can now be detected on the Apple Watch 4 or newer (except the Apple Watch SE). ECG records can now be reviewed by patients with AFib to assess how frequently they are in AFib. These users will be able to see if any of their other routines or activities have an effect on their AFib using the Health app. The medical sharing tool that was introduced last year has been expanded to allow patients to share their AFib History with their physicians.
watchOS 9 Medications app
Tracking and managing prescriptions on the go has never been easier thanks to a new Medications app for the Apple Watch. Although the Health app will play a significant role in medication management, Apple Watch users can receive notifications or reminders to take their medication via the wearable.
Add a medication to your list in the Health app and you’ll receive notifications if there are drug interactions or other serious issues with the meds you’re already taking. In the event that you have a caretaker or family member who monitors your medication, they can also access your records.
watchOS 9 — what does it mean for Apple Watch 8?
WatchOS 9 has a lot to say about the Apple Watch 8 if you’re curious. There isn’t much to say. However, based on the watchOS 9, we can get a sense of what Apple plans to do.
Thanks to this year’s software update, Apple has prioritised health and wellness features, and it’s probable that the Apple Watch 8 will follow this trend by including a health sensor.