WatchOS 9: The new features that are expected to hit your Apple Watch

Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch Series 3.

Apple Watch SE (left), Apple Watch Series 7 (center) and Apple Watch Series 3 (right).

Lisa Eadicicco / CNET

That Apple Watch Series 8 is expected to arrive later this year, but you probably do not need the latest hardware to take advantage of Apple’s latest features. The company typically adds more functionality each year through software updates.

Apples WatchOS 8 update introduced new dials made from iPhone portraits, a new app called Mindfulness to replace the Breathe app, and better training recognition for cycling. The software works on devices as old as the Apple Watch Series 3, though some features may require newer models.

We expect to get a preview of Apple’s next major Apple Watch software update at the company Worldwide developer conference in June. Based on the rumors and reports we’ve seen so far, it sounds like we can expect to see some battery improvements and more health and safety features.

A new low energy state

Apple has not made any major improvements Apple Watch battery life recently, but it may have another fix on the way soon. Apple plans to introduce a new low-power mode with WatchOS 9 that will allow devices to run some apps and features without consuming that much power, according to Bloomberg. It sounds like this would be different from Apple Watch’s current power reserve feature, which only lets you see the time and disables other functionality to preserve battery life.

Apple Watch Series 7

Apple Watch Series 7 on its charger.

Lisa Eadicicco / CNET

A new feature like the one Bloomberg describes can help compensate for the Apple Watch’s relatively short battery life, which usually lasts about a day and a half. This combined with the Series 7’s faster charging can significantly extend the Apple Watch’s battery life, which can be important if you use it for sleep tracking.

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

Discovery of car accident

Apple Watch can already assess your walking stability and tell you if you have taken a hard fall. Next, it may detect car accidents. Apple plans to use sensors in the iPhone and Apple Watch to identify car accidents in real time, according to The Wall Street Journal. The new feature may come this year. It sounds like a feature that Google already offers on its Pixel phones, which automatically calls emergency services and shares your location if it detects that you have been in a serious car accident.

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Google’s safety app can detect car accidents.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Multiple health features, including medication reminders

Health has been one of Apple’s top priorities for years, and the company reportedly plans to take it a step further with its upcoming software update. Apple may add new tools to the iPhone’s Health app this year, including medication reminders and new features for sleep detection and women’s health, according to Bloomberg.

Although the report specifies that this will be part of the iPhone’s Health app, it looks like these additions will also appear on the Apple Watch somehow, even if only through notifications. The drug management feature would allow you to scan drugs in the iPhone’s Health app and receive reminders, according to Bloomberg.


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Improvements to atrial fibrillation detection

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

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

New dials and training types

Apple’s software updates typically introduce new dials and workout types, and it sounds like WatchOS 9 will be no exception. Bloomberg also reports that new dials and training modes will be part of Apple’s upcoming software release, though it did not reveal many details. There are also reportedly new measurements for runners.

Bicycle registration on an Apple Watch

Apple Watch automatic bike recognition.

Lexy Savvides / CNET

Apple has expanded its range of Apple Watch training in recent years. It added Pilates, Tai Chi and improved detection for cycling training in WatchOS 8. It also provided support for dance training for the clock 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 that may change in 2022. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities known for his Apple predictions, recently said Series 3 may be phased out because it will not be able to support the new version of WatchOS. This means that WatchOS 9 is likely to be compatible with Series 4 and later, although we do not know for sure until Apple debuts the software.

Apple Watch Series 3 on a swirling background

Apple Watch Series 3

Sarah Tew / CNET

Apple launched the Series 3 in 2017 as the first model with built-in cellular functionality so that it can work independently of the iPhone. Apple still sells Series 3 for $ 199 along with $ 279 Apple Watch SE and $ 399 Apple Watch Series 7. But we does not recommend buying Series 3 in 2022 as its specifications are getting old. Its limited storage capacity also means that it is a task to update and there are better options for the price.

A launch date in September

If Apple sticks to its historic launch pattern, we can expect to see WatchOS 9 in September. Apple is usually releasing its new software along with a new watch model, with 2021 as an exception. (Apple launched WatchOS 8 in September, but first released the Apple Watch Series 7 in October).

Although we’ll probably have to wait until September, Apple is expected to detail the new features of WatchOS 9 during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. It is also likely to release a public beta version of the software shortly thereafter to allow owners to try out an unfinished version of the software before its official release.

Read more: Apple Watch 8 Rumors: Are We Getting New Health Features And A Bigger Design?

What we will see in WatchOS 9

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

If these reports prove to be accurate, health and wellness will once again be the main themes of Apple’s software update. This is yet another sign that the Apple Watch has evolved into a sophisticated health tracking device capable of more than logging training and activity. The update will fit nicely with what is expected Apple Watch Series 8as Bloomberg and WSJ report will be the first to come up with a temperature sensor.

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