watchOS 8

watchOS 8 brings new access, connectivity and more

New watchOS offers greater access with Wallet, more capabilities with the Home app, new workout types, and an updated Breathe app

Apple began the rollout of watchOS 8 today, bringing new cycling and wellness features, fresh watch faces, more access with Wallet, and a redesigned Home app for Apple Watch users.

New workout types, updates to cycling, and the new Mindfulness app expand support for physical and mental well-being, while enhanced capabilities with the Wallet and Home apps enable users to more seamlessly use Apple Watch on the go and at home. The redesigned Photos app, new watch faces, and tools in Messages provide customers with more ways to connect with loved ones. 

More Access with Wallet

With watchOS 8, Wallet brings even more contact-free ways for users to access the places and things they care about seamlessly, safely, and securely. Ultra Wideband support arrives for digital car keys, and Apple Watch users can securely unlock their car from a distance and start it from the driver’s seat. Additionally, users can add home and hotel keys as well as corporate badges to Wallet, and tap their Apple Watch to unlock.

Beginning with Arizona and Georgia, and followed by Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah, users will be able to add their driver’s license or state ID to Wallet, and present it at select TSA checkpoints and lanes

Redesigned Home App

The redesigned Home app in watchOS 8 offers more convenient access to accessories and scenes needed in a particular moment, and the ability to control accessories by room. Users with a HomeKit-enabled camera can view who is at the door directly on their wrist.

Apple Watch users can also tap Intercom to quickly broadcast a message throughout the home or to individual rooms via HomePod, HomePod mini, or other personal devices.

Apple Fitness Plus Pilates

New Workout Types

watchOS 8 introduces two new popular workout types that are beneficial for both physical fitness and mindful movement: Tai Chi and Pilates. These new workout types are supported by powerful, validated, custom-built heart rate and motion algorithms to provide users with accurate calorie metrics.

The update also adds new features for anyone who rides a bike. Apple Watch uses advanced algorithms to analyze GPS, heart rate, accelerometer, and gyroscope data to detect when users begin a ride, and prompts them to start an Outdoor Cycle workout if one was not initiated.

Cycling workouts now have auto-pause and resume so metrics more accurately reflect time spent moving versus stationary, like waiting at a stoplight.

Apple Watch more accurately measures active calories when riding an e-bike, with an updated cycling workout algorithm that evaluates GPS and heart rate data to better determine when users are riding with pedal-assist versus leg power alone. New voice feedback through the built-in speaker of Apple Watch, or through AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones, will automatically announce workout milestones and Activity ring status, helping users stay focused during activities like running or HIIT

A New Approach to Mindfulness

In watchOS 8, the Breathe app becomes the Mindfulness app, featuring an enhanced Breathe experience, plus a new session type, Reflect. Reflect offers a mindful intention to focus on for as little as one minute that can be done anywhere and at any time. Each Reflect session welcomes the user with a unique, thoughtful notion to consider that invites a positive frame of mind.

For example, the user may see something like “Recall a time recently when you felt a sense of calm. Bring that feeling into this moment,” or “Reflect on one thing you’re grateful for and think about why you appreciate it so much.” Both the Breathe and Reflect experiences also offer tips to help users get more from each session and feature beautiful new animations.

Starting Monday, September 27, new guided Meditations will be uploaded each week in audio form in the new Mindfulness app on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers, in addition to being available as an immersive video experience on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. These can be played directly from Apple Watch when paired with AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones, so users can experience guided Meditation at their convenience. Users who want to practice meditation while moving will also be able to track their activity with the Workout app.

Sleeping Respiratory Rate

watchOS 8 gives users even more insight into their overall wellness by tracking sleeping respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths per minute. To do this, Apple Watch uses the built-in accelerometer to measure respiratory rate while sleeping, and this information can be viewed, along with trends over time, in the Health app on iPhone. This metric is also available for developers to use with permission through HealthKit.

Apple WatchOS 8 Portrait Faces

Portraits Watch Face and Photos

The Photos face is the most popular Apple Watch face, and watchOS 8 introduces new ways to view and engage with users’ favourite photos right from their wrist. The new Portraits watch face brings to life portrait photos shot on iPhone with an immersive, multi-layered effect, intelligently recognizing faces in photos and cropping in to highlight the subject.

The classic World Time face, based on heritage watches and ideal for travellers, tracks the time in 24 time zones around a double dial.

The Photos app is also redesigned, offering new ways to view and navigate collections, Memories and Featured Photos now sync to Apple Watch, and photos can be shared through Messages and Mail with the new Share Sheet.

Messages and Contacts

Communicating on Apple Watch is even easier with new tools in Messages. Users can combine the use of Scribble, dictation, and emoji all within the same message, and for dictated messages, they have the option to edit the presented text. To easily add even more expression to a message, users can simply enter a word or phrase and select from hundreds of trending GIFs.

watchOS 8 also brings the Contacts app to Apple Watch, providing a simple way for users to browse, add, and edit contacts, and share contacts directly from the app.

Fall Detection Update

With watchOS 8, fall detection algorithms are updated and optimized for detecting falls during workouts — including cycling — and have been tuned to recognize the unique motion and impact of falls from a bike and other workout types.

Apple WatchOS 8

Focus

watchOS 8 supports Focus, a powerful set of tools available in iOS 15 to help users reduce distraction and be in the moment. Apple Watch 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. Focus uses on-device intelligence to make suggestions based on usage patterns — for example, when starting a workout on Apple Watch, the Focus for fitness is suggested.

Multiple timers come to Apple Watch and can be given a specific label using Siri (such as “Laundry Timer” or “Cooking Timer”).

In watchOS 8, more Apple Watch apps support the Always-On display, including Maps, Mindfulness, Now Playing, Phone, Podcasts, Stopwatch, Timers, Voice Memos, and others. watchOS 8 is also making it easier for developers to keep their apps timely and relevant with a new Always-On API for third-party apps.

To support Apple Watch users with upper-body limb differences, AssistiveTouch enables one-arm usage of Apple Watch by sensing simple hand gestures to interact without touching the display. Using the built-in motion sensors, users can answer incoming calls, control an onscreen motion pointer, and surface an action menu that can access Notification Center, Control Center, and more.

A new Find Items app on Apple Watch helps users locate tagged items using the Find My network, and a new Find Devices app helps users locate lost Apple devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID.

The redesigned Music app enables users to share songs, albums, and playlists through Messages and Mail, and enjoy music and radio all in one place.

The Weather app now supports Severe Weather notifications, displaying government alerts about certain severe weather events. The app also delivers Next Hour precipitation alerts and offers updated complications.

Family Setup introduces the ability to add transit cards from Hong Kong, Japan, and select China mainland and US cities, and Calendar and Mail now include the option to add a Google account.

Apple Fitness+, the first fitness service created entirely around Apple Watch, expands its offering in watchOS 8 with Picture in Picture support and new filtering options, and users can stop and resume an in-progress workout on any device. Later this month, Fitness+ introduces a new series of workouts featuring Jeanette Jenkins, one of the most sought-after fitness experts, and a new Artist Spotlight Series with workouts featuring entire playlists from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Alicia Keys.

The developer beta of watchOS 8 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today. A public beta will be available to watchOS users next month at beta.apple.com.

watchOS 8 will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later, running iOS 15.

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