watchOS 8 was another of the new features presented by Apple at the opening conference of its annual event with developers, which we followed live yesterday to present the operating systems for iPhone, iPad and Mac, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey.
The new functions dedicated to tracking health and sports activity have been the most interesting of what was presented for Apple’s operating system for smartwatches. And no wonder because these wearables, the best sellers in their segment, have focused on such features since their launch.
Apple has introduced a new Mindfulness app, an extension of the existing Breathe to help the user relax, while the Health app will explicitly track breathing rate while sleeping and notify if it is out of normal patterns. The Fitness app has received an increased number of routines and exercises, such as those dedicated to tai chi and pilates.
Apple is also introducing new watch faces that will use photos taken in portrait mode and will overlay text on them. Ka version will allow users to customize the text behind the image. Apple has updated the Photos app in watchOS 8 to allow users to share images directly through Messages or the Mail app.
The new version adds AirTags support to Find My, allowing users to track their AirTags using the Apple Watch. Not only that, but Apple also plans to include support for car keys in the Apple Watch Series 6 which will be able to use UWB (ultra-wideband) radio.
Apple has also integrated some of the iOS 15 features into WatchOS 8. These include the new focus mode, weather alerts, as well as always-on display support for Music, Maps, and Calculator. Users will be able to include emojis in handwritten messages and use the crown wheel to move the cursor when typing a message.
Another redesign is the Home app, the software that lets you control smart home devices from Apple Watches will feature more shortcuts to commonly used devices and the ability to view images from security cameras.
Apple has added more native apps to the Apple Watch’s always-on display feature, including Maps, Mindfulness, Now Playing, Phone, Podcasts, Stopwatch, Timers, and Voice Memos. Apple says it is also providing an API for third-party apps to use.
The watchOS 8 developer beta is now available for eligible devices and the final version is expected to reach consumers next fall as a free, pre-installed update on new versions of Apple Watch Series smartwatches.