Apple unveiled watchOS 9 at the WWDC 2022 keynote on Monday. The new watchOS release will help Apple Watch users better track their health and fitness, along with the ability to continuously monitor atrial fibrillation (AFib) and updated sleep tracking. Apple has also introduced the Medications app through the new watchOS 9. Further, watchOS 9 brings new watch faces and an updated user experience. Apple has additionally brought new workout features to attract fitness enthusiasts.
watchOS 9 availability
The watchOS 9 update has initially been released for developers who are a part of the Apple Developer Program. A public beta of watchOS 9 will reach users next month. The latest watchOS will also be available as a free software update for the Apple Watch Series 4 or later paired with iPhone 8 or later and iPhone SE (2020) or later running iOS 16 this fall (somewhere in September).
watchOS 9 features
One of the biggest changes that come through watchOS 9 is the expansion of fitness and health tracking. The new watchOS release brings a AFib History feature to track and monitor users in the state of atrial fibrillation over a particular period — time of day or week. Users can also share a PDF of their AFib patterns with their doctor.
The watchOS 9 release also brings four new watch faces, namely, Playtime as well as the updated Astronomy, Lunar, and Metropolitan. Similarly, there are enhanced and modernised complications on some of the most classic watch faces, such as Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog. The update also brings new features across workouts types, including heart rate zones. Users can now use the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch to rotate between easy-to-read Workout Views and look at various metrics of different training styles. Additionally, there is a new custom workout mode to let you add alerts as per your workout. Apple has also introduced a multi sport workout type that is claimed to use sensor fusion on the Apple watch to “detect when you finish one leg of your race and the transitioning to the next so it can automatically switch between swimming, cycling and running.”
The new watchOS release also brings new running form metrics, including Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation that users can add as metrics on Workout Views.
Throughout the workout, the Apple Watch can deliver new alerts to users, including pace, power, heart rate, and cadence. Apple has also added Kickboard detection as a new stroke type for Pool Swim workouts that uses sensor fusion on the Apple Watch to automatically detect when users are swimming with a kickboard and classify the stroke type in the workout summary along with distance swam. Swimmers using the Apple Watch can also track their efficiency with a SWOLF score through watchOS 9.
Apple has also started displaying Fitness+ workouts on-screen guidance for workouts, including: Intensity for HIIT, Cycling, Rowing, and Treadmill; Strokes per Minute (SPM) for Rowing; Revolutions per Minute (RPM) for Cycling; and Incline for walkers and runners in Treadmill.
In addition to the updated workouts experience, watchOS 9 brings Sleep Stages to enhance sleep tracking on the Apple Watch. The company claimed the new addition is capable of detecting REM, Core, and Deep sleep stages.
Apple’s watchOS 9 also includes the Medications app to let users discreetly track their medications, vitamins, and supplements from their wrist. Users can also use the iPhone camera to scan a label of their medication and add its data to the preloaded app on the Apple Watch.
The new watchOS release comes with the new Reminders app that lets users add or edit key details such as date and time, location, tags, and notes. There is also the new Calendar app that allows users to create new events directly from the Apple Watch.
During the keynote, Apple also mentioned that the “health data is encrypted on device and is not shared without your explicit permission.”
Apple Watch users through watchOS 9 will get support for six new keyboard languages as well as the new Family Setup to let kids control compatible home devices from their wrist. Further, the new watchOS release comes with an updated watch face editor to let users change background colour for watch faces.
The release of watchOS 9 sets the stage for the new Apple Watch models that are rumoured to debut later this year, with improved design and in three different variants. Also, the new watchOS version is designed to make the Apple Watch a strong competitor against the smartwatches running on Google’s Wear OS that also received a slew of updates at the I/O 2022 conference last month.
Apple will make watchOS 9 available for download as a new software update for the compatible Apple Watch models later this year.