Apple reveals WatchOS 9 features

Apple provided a glimpse of some of the features launching with the upcoming version of its smartwatch operating system, WatchOS 9.

Among the highlights are four additional watch faces and enhanced complications with more information and personalisation options.

The new watch faces are as follows:

  • Lunar — Shows the relationship between the Gregorian and lunar calendars
  • Playtime — Dynamic piece of art created by Joi Fulton
  • Metropolitan — Classic, type-driven watch face that changes style as the Digital Crown is rotated
  • Astronomy — Original face that has been remastered with a new star map and current cloud data
From left to right — the Lunar, Playtime, Metropolitan, and Astronomy watch faces

An updated WatchOS 9 Workout app will provide more advanced metrics for measuring training performance and new experiences to help users achieve their fitness goals.

“The familiar in-session display now uses the Digital Crown to rotate between easy-to-read Workout Views so that users can see important metrics for different training styles,” Apple said.

“Heart Rate Zones, which can be manually created or automatically calculated using personalised Health data, can be used to monitor the intensity of a workout.”

A new Custom Workouts feature will enable users to create a structured workout that can include work and rest intervals.

“New alerts, including pace, power, heart rate, and cadence, can be added to guide users throughout the workout,” Apple said.

Pool Swim workouts will gain kickboard detection as a new stroke type, with the Apple Watch using sensor fusion to automatically detect when users are swimming with a kickboard.

There will also be a SWOLF score, which combines the stroke count with the time it takes to swim one pool length.

For runners, Apple is adding metrics such as Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation.

There is also a new Cardio Recovery metric that will be provided after an Outdoor Walk, Run, or Hiking workout.

The new Vertical Oscillation metric shown in the Running workout

WatchOS 9’s sleep tracking will introduce sleep stages to the Apple Watch for the first time.

The Apple Watch will use its accelerometer and heart rate sensor to detect whether the wearer is in REM, Core, or Deep sleep.

Sleep stage data will be shown in the Sleep app, with more detailed information like time asleep and heart rate available in sleep comparison charts within the Health app.

Apple said its machine learning models for sleep tracking were trained and validated against the “clinical gold standard called polysomnography”, with one of the largest and most diverse populations ever studied for a wearable.

WatchOS 9 will support tracking sleep stages

WatchOS 9 will be available to Apple Developer Programme members from Monday, 6 June 2022.

The public beta will open on beta.apple.com in the US fall, between 5 September and 21 December, allowing early adopters to test the new features.

Below are several other changes and additional features launching on WatchOS 9.

  • Notifications — New design with slimline banners shown while the watch is actively used.
  • Dock — Redesigned with apps actively in use promoted over the rest.
  • Quick Actions — Double-pinch gesture will allow for answering or ending a phone call, taking a photo, playing or pausing media and controlling workouts.
  • Reminders app — Added the ability to add or edit key details such as date and time, location, tags, and notes.
  • Calendar app — Added the ability to create new events directly on the Apple Watch. There is also a newly-added Week view alongside new List, Day, and Month views to support more scrolling through calendar events.
  • Fitness+ — Workouts will display on-screen guidance in addition to trainer coaching. Fitness+ subscribers without Apple TV will be able to stream workouts and meditations using AirPlay.
  • Apple Watch Mirroring — Lets users remotely control their watch with a paired iPhone using Voice and Switch Control
  • AFib History — Wearers with signs of atrial fibrillation can use a new FDA-clear AFib History feature to assess how frequently a user’s heart rhythm shows signs of AFib to help them better understand their condition.
  • Medications — Helps users manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements with a medications list, schedules, and reminders.
  • QWERTY keyboard — Watch Series 7 adds support for French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish
The redesigned Apple Watch dock

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Apple reveals WatchOS 9 features