WatchOS 9: the new Apple Watch features we saw at WWDC

Apples Worldwide Developers Conference is less than a week away, and we expect to get a glimpse of Apple’s next major update for the Apple Watch. The software, likely to be called WatchOS 9, will likely debut alongside iOS16 and iPadOS 16, Apple’s rumored software updates for iPhone and iPad.

Last years Watch OS 8 Update introduces new watch faces made from iPhone portrait mode photos, a new app called Mindfulness to replace the Breathe app, and better workout detection for cycling. The software works on devices as old as the Apple Watch Series 3, although some features may require newer models.

While we’ll likely get a preview of WatchOS 9 at WWDC, the updated software may not be released until later this year with the Apple Watch Series 8. However, you probably won’t need the latest hardware to take advantage of Apple’s latest features.

In the meantime, we collect all the gossip about the iPhone 14, iOS16 and the next Apple Watch Series 8. Based on the rumors and reports we’ve seen about WatchOS 9 so far, it looks like we can expect to see battery improvements and more health and safety features.

A new low-power mode

Apple has made no major improvements to the AppleWatch battery life recently, but there may be another fix coming soon. Apple plans to introduce a new Low Power Mode with WatchOS 9 that would allow devices to run certain apps and features without consuming as much power, according to Bloomberg. This appears to be different from the current Apple Watch power reserve feature, which only lets you see the time and disables other features to preserve battery life.

Apple Watch Series 7 on its charger.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

A new feature like the one described by Bloomberg could help offset the Apple Watch’s relatively short battery life, which typically lasts around a day and a half. This, combined with the Series 7’s faster charging, could significantly extend the battery life of the Apple Watch, which could be important if you’re using it for sleep tracking.

Read more: I want more of the Apple Watch in 2022

car accident detection

The Apple Watch can already assess your walking stability and tell if you have take a sudden fall. Then it may be able to detect car crashes. Apple plans to use sensors in the iPhone and Apple Watch to identify car crashes in real time, according to the Wall Street Journal. The novelty could arrive this year. It sounds like a feature Google already offers on its Pixel phones, which automatically calls emergency services and shares your location if it detects you’ve been in a serious car accident.


Google’s Safety app can detect car crashes.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

More health features including medication reminders

Health has been a top priority for Apple for years, and the company plans to go even further with its next software update. Apple may add new tools to the iPhone’s Health app this year, including medication reminders and new features for sleep tracking and women’s health, according to Bloomberg.

Although the report clarifies that this will be part of the iPhone’s Health app, it seems likely that these additions would also appear on the Apple Watch in some way, even if only by through notifications. The medication management feature would scan medications into the iPhone’s Health app and receive reminders, according to Bloomberg.

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Atrial Fibrillation Detection Enhancements

Apple may also improve how its smartwatches can detect atrial fibrillation, which is a common type of heart arrhythmia that can increase your risk of stroke. The next Apple Watch software update could allow watches to detect what is called “burden”, according to Bloomberg, or how often a person experiences AFib over a certain period of time. The launch would come after Fitbit received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April for its atrial fibrillation detection technology.

Read more: A new Apple Watch SE actually looks more exciting than the Series 8

New watch faces and workout types

Apple’s software updates usually introduce new watch faces and workout types, and it looks like WatchOS 9 will be no exception. Bloomberg also reports that new watch faces and exercise modes will be part of Apple’s next software release, though it didn’t divulge many details. New measures for runners would also be forthcoming.

Bike detection on an Apple Watch

The automatic detection of Apple Watch cycles.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Apple has expanded its selection of Apple Watch workouts in recent years. It added Pilates, Tai Chi, and improved sensing for cycling workouts in WatchOS 8. He also provided support for watch dance workouts in 2020.

Compatibility with older Apple Watch models

Apple’s last two software updates were compatible with watches as old as the Series 3, but there’s a chance that will change in 2022. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities known for his Apple predictions, said Series 3 might be retired as it won’t be able to support the new version of WatchOS. This means that WatchOS 9 will likely be compatible with Series 4 and later, although we won’t know for sure until Apple releases the software.

Apple Watch Series 3 on swirling background

The Apple Watch Series 3

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple launched the Series 3 in 2017 as the first model with built-in cellular functionality, allowing it to operate independently of the iPhone. Apple is still selling the Series 3 for $199 alongside the $279 Apple Watch SE and $399 Apple Watch Series 7. But we do not recommend buying series 3 in 2022 since its specs are getting old. Its limited storage capacity also means updating is a hassle and there are better options for the price.

Read more: I ditched my Apple Watch for a luxury hybrid watch

September launch date

If Apple sticks to its historic launch pattern, we can expect to see WatchOS 9 in September. Apple usually releases its new software alongside a new watch model, with 2021 being an exception. (Apple launched WatchOS 8 in September, but didn’t release the Apple Watch Series 7 until October).

Even if it will probably be necessary to wait until September, Apple should detail the new features of WatchOS 9 during its Worldwide Developers Conference next week. (Here is how you can watch reveals live.) It will also likely release a public beta version of the software soon after to allow watch owners to try out an unfinished version of the software before its official release.

Read more: Apple Watch 8 rumours: Will we get new health features and a bigger design?

What we want to see in WatchOS 9

It looks like Apple has a lot in store for WatchOS 9, but there are a few features on my personal wishlist that I would like to see. These include more detailed sleep tracking, features to help with rest and recovery after a workout, the ability to adjust activity goals for different days of the week, and more uses for the U1 chip. . Some of these features, especially sleep tracking and workout recovery, would help the Apple Watch catch up with competing devices from Oura and Fitbit.

If these reports prove to be accurate, health and wellness will once again be the major themes of Apple’s software update. It’s another sign that the Apple Watch has become a sophisticated health-tracking device capable of doing more than logging workouts and activities. The update will perfectly match the expectations Apple Watch Series 8which, according to Bloomberg and WSJ, will be the first to offer a temperature sensor.

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