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Smartwatches

Everything you need to know about watchOS 9: Release, Features, and more

By Aryan Suren June 11, 2022, 12:00 pm
watchOS 9 Featured Image Source: Pocketnow, Apple
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At WWDC 2022, Apple provided developers and the users of its products with a preview of the updates coming to its device lineup. We already have articles covering iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 up on Pocketnow, and in this piece, we will look at everything new that's coming to Apple Watch in the coming months with watchOS 9.

New Watch Faces

watchOS 9 New Watch Faces Source: Pocketnow, Apple

Everything that the Apple Watch does starts with one thing, the watch face. And like the previous versions, watchOS 9 introduces new options for users to apply and experience. These are Lunar, Playtime, Metropolitan, and Astronomy. The last option on this list is a remaster of a watch face previously available.

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Apart from these changes, Apple says they've modernized complications on their Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog watch faces. And even offer new background color editing for the Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large ones. Also, you might already know about iOS 16's marquee Lock Screen customization; well, elements of that also make their way to Apple Watch, with the Portrait face now capable of showing depth too.

Focus has also been expanded to the Apple Watch, as users can pair watch faces with specific focus modes to better organize their devices.

Improvements to Workout App

New Workout Screens watchOS 9 Source: Pocketnow, Apple

Next comes the Workout Application, redesigned to show richer metrics to help measure your performance. The Digital Crown still plays its role as a navigation tool through the various views. Apple has also added the ability to monitor workout intensity with Heart Rate Zones. You can create these manually or let them automatically generate via assessments made by Apple Watch.

The watchOS 9 update also adds Custom Workouts, letting users create structured sessions that include work and rest intervals. There's also the option to add pace, power, heart rate, and cadence alerts to guide a workout.

If you're a triathlete, there's even a new Multisport workout that uses the motion sensors on the wearable to switch between the various stages by recognizing movement patterns automatically.

Improvements for Runners

New Running Features watchOS 9 Source: Pocketnow, Apple

In case you're a runner, watchOS 9 brings new form metrics into the equation for users to analyze. The metrics in question are Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation. Users can make these a part of Workout Views on the watch or see them within the Fitness app summary and Health app.

Users can also race their best or latest result on frequently used routes. The Apple Watch will provide alerts during the workout, letting you know whether you're ahead or behind, even when there's a change in course. And lastly, there's a built-in pacer that uses a distance and time goal to calculate the pace, which will have to be maintained — there will be pace alerts during such a run.

Improvements to Swimming

For swimmers, Kickboard detection becomes part of the measurements as a new stroke type for Pool Swim workouts. The Apple Watch will automatically detect when a kickboard is used and provide a classification in the workout summary. There's even a SWOLF score available to help track efficiency.

Better Sleep Insight

New Sleep Insights watchOS 9 Source: Pocketnow, Apple

Apple Watch and its Sleep Tracking have been quite rudimentary compared to its competitors. In its current form, the wearable can only track sleep within a set window and only provides information about Time Awake and Time Asleep. But with watchOS 9, users will now be able to gain access to more detailed information via Sleep Stages. So, in addition to time asleep, users will get metrics like heart rate, respiratory rate, and the sleep stages — REM, Core, or Deep.

AFib History

AFib History watchOS 9 Source: Pocketnow, Apple

With watchOS 9, Apple is improving its AFib detection feature by implementing an FDA-cleared AFib History component. The feature includes an estimate of how frequently a user's heart shows signs of AFib. The data collected by Apple Watch is supplemented with notifications to understand frequency and PDFs with detailed history, shareable with doctors and health care providers.

Medications

Medications watchOS 9 Source: Pocketnow, Apple

And the last significant improvement to Apple Watch is the Medicine experience which extends from the iPhone. This system aims to allow users to manage their list of medicines with schedules and reminders. The Apple Watch version is more subtle and will provide discrete notifications.

Users of the Medications feature in the US can also access information regarding interactions between the medicines they've added to the Health app.

Other Updates

Calendar and Dock watchOS 9 Source: Pocketnow, Apple

Dock, which shows favorited applications on the Apple Watch, now pushes those actively in use to the top of the list. The aim is to let users quickly access open apps with a press of the Side Button.

Calendar, which could only show upcoming events on Apple Watch, has also been updated with the ability to create new events. Additionally, users can now also view their events in the updated List, Day, and Months views.

Apple Fitness+ now provides more on-screen information, with the service displaying on-screen guidance and trainer coaching to help users get more out of their workouts. The new metrics will be available HIIT, Cycling, Rowing, and Treadmill.

QWERTY Keyboard on Apple Watch Series 7 now supports six more languages — French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil), and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, Latin America).

Reminders will let users add and edit critical details such as date, time, location, tags, and notes that have been previously created.

Notifications will appear in smaller banner entities when Apple Watch is used to track workouts or perform other activities.

Quick Actions now have a new double-pinch gesture to perform actions like answering or ending a phone call, capturing an image, playing or pausing media, or resuming a workout.

Release Date

Tim Cook in front of iOS macOS watchOS label Source: Apple

If you want to try out the new features, watchOS 9 is currently available via a Developer Beta, with a Public Beta scheduled for July. The full update is presumed to go live this Fall, alongside the hardware announcements found at the September Keynote Event.

Compatibility

With watchOS 9, Apple is finally dropping support for Apple Watch Series 3. Thus, reducing the number of devices supported to the five models below.

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 7

The devices mentioned above need to be paired with iPhone models running iOS 16.

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