Apple today offered a preview of its upcoming watchOS 8 Apple Watch operating system. The new wearable OS offers multiple new and improved features, including new ways to connect, new portrait mode photo watch faces, and more.
Wallet in watchOS 8 brings even more contact-free ways for users to access places and things. Ultra Wideband support will be available for digital car keys on Apple Watch Series 6. Apple Watch wearers can securely unlock their car from a distance and start it from the driver’s seat.
Users will also be able to add keys for their home, office, and hotel to Wallet, and tap their Apple Watch to unlock. Later this year, users in participating states in the US will be able to add their driver’s license or state ID to Wallet. Select TSA checkpoints will be the first place users can begin using their digital ID.
Redesigned Home App
The redesigned Home app offers more convenient access to accessories and scenes, and the ability to control accessories by room. Users with a HomeKit-enabled camera can view who is at the door on their wrist and can also tap Intercom to quickly broadcast a message throughout the home or to individual rooms via HomePod, HomePod mini, or other personal devices.
New Workout Types
watchOS 8 ads two new workout types: Tai Chi and Pilates. The new workout types are supported by custom-built heart rate and motion algorithms to provide users with accurate metrics.
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. Both the Breathe and Reflect experiences also offer tips to help users get more from each session and feature beautiful new animations.
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.
Portraits Watch Face and Photos
The new Portraits watch face brings to life portrait photos shot on iPhone with an immersive, multilayered effect, intelligently recognizing faces in photos and cropping in to highlight the subject.
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
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. More expression can be added to a message, as users can enter a word or phrase and select from hundreds of trending GIFs.
The Contacts app comes to the Apple Watch, allowing users to browse, add, and edit contacts, and share contacts directly from the app.
Focus helps users reduce distractions and be in the moment. 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.
Other watchOS 8 Updates
- 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 first beta of watchOS 8 is now available to developers. watchOS 8 will be released to the public later this year.