At its WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple unveiled the next generation of watchOS, which will come to our wrists in the fall. Here are the new features we’re most exited to try:
Keys in Wallet
The Wallet app on the Apple Watch is incredibly useful for making payments on the go, but in watchOS 8, it’ll be even more versatile. Apple is adding support for home, office, and hotel keys to Wallet on the Apple Watch, and users in participating U.S. states will also be able to upload their driver’s license or state ID for one less thing to carry.
Health and fitness
Health and fitness are some of the key components of the Apple Watch, and Apple is continuing the push them in watchOS 8. The Breathe app will now be called Mindfulness, and it add Reflect sessions that help you take some of the stress out of your day.
The Sleep app will now track your respiratory rate and alert you to changes that may be alarming. And Tai Chi and Pilates will join the Workout apps while Fitness+ will welcome fitness coach Jeanette Jenkins and her popular strength and HIIT classes, along with new Artist Spotlight Series workouts.
Other new and redesigned apps
Apple has a bunch of new apps coming in watchOS 8, including Contacts and Find Items, but more exciting is a focus on making the apps we use most better. Among the redesigned apps are Home, which offers Intercom support, the ability to control accessories by room, and live video of people at the door, Photos, which has a new mosaic layout and easy sharing via Messages and Mail, and Timer, which now lets you set multiple timers.
A new watchOS release wouldn’t be complete without new watch faces, but this year there’s just one: Portraits. As its name implies, it uses the portrait photos on your iPhone “with an immersive, multilayered effect, intelligently recognizing faces in photos and cropping in to highlight the subject” so they’ll pop even more on the small screen.
watchOS also supports Apple’s new Focus feature in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. On the Watch, Focus “will automatically align with any Focus set on iOS, so that notifications from people and apps are filtered based on what a user is currently doing.” It also uses on-device AI to suggest apps and actions based on usage patterns.
Availability and compatibility
watchOS 8 will be available this fall for Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later, running iOS 15.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He’s still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.