Advanced stats, perspectives, and training experiences inspired by high-performing athletes are included in the new Workout app to help users take their workouts to the next level.
The Sleep app now includes sleep phases in watchOS 9, and a new FDA-cleared AFib History function gives more information about a user's condition. The new Drugs app allows users to manage, understand, and monitor medications in a straightforward and unobtrusive manner.
“Users around the world love Apple Watch for helping them stay connected to those they love, be more active throughout the day, and better manage their health,” says Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “This fall, watchOS 9 takes the Apple Watch experience to the next level with scientifically validated insights across fitness, sleep, and heart health, while providing users more creative ways to make their Apple Watch their own.”
More Watch FaceswatchOS 9 introduces four new faces: Lunar, which depicts the relationship between the Gregorian calendar and lunar calendar, used in many cultures such as Chinese, Islamic, and Hebrew; Playtime, a dynamic piece of art that’s unique to Apple Watch and created in collaboration with artist Joi Fulton; Metropolitan, a classic, type-driven watch face where the style changes as the Digital Crown is rotated; and Astronomy, an original face that has been completely remastered and features a new star map and current cloud data.
watchOS 9 introduces enhanced and modernized complications on some classic watch faces, such as Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog, along with background color editing for Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large for additional personalization.
The new Portraits face showcases the depth effect on more photos, including cats, dogs, and landscapes, while Chinese scripts have been added as options for California and Typograph watch faces. Focus now allows users to select an Apple Watch face to automatically appear when they start a specific Focus on iPhone, such as the Photos face during a Personal Focus, helping users stay in the moment.
Workout App Updates
The Workout app has been updated to provide richer metrics for measuring performance, as well as new training experiences to help users reach fitness goals. The in-session display now uses the Digital Crown to rotate between easy-to-read Workout Views, so users can see important metrics for different training styles. Heart Rate Zones, which can be manually created or automatically calculated using personalized Health data, can be used to monitor the intensity of a workout.
In watchOS 9, the Workout app introduces Custom Workouts, which can be used 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.
For triathletes, the Workout app now supports a new Multisport workout type that automatically switches between any sequence of swimming, biking, and running workouts, using motion sensors to recognize movement patterns. When each workout is complete, a redesigned summary page in the Fitness app offers additional details with interactive charts for more precise analysis.
First-of-Its-Kind AFib History
Currently, the ECG app and irregular rhythm notification on Apple Watch can identify potential signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Left untreated, AFib is one of the leading conditions that can result in stroke.
Research suggests that the amount of time spent in AFib may impact a person’s symptoms, overall quality of life, and risk of complications. Previously, there’s not been an easy way to track the frequency of AFib over an extended period of time, or to manage lifestyle factors that may influence one’s condition. According to the American Heart Association, addressing modifiable lifestyle factors may decrease the amount of time spent in AFib.1
With watchOS 9, users who are diagnosed with AFib can turn on the FDA-cleared AFib History feature2 and access important information, including an estimate of how frequently a user’s heart rhythm shows signs of AFib, providing deeper insights into their condition.
Users will also receive weekly notifications to understand frequency and view a detailed history in the Health app, including lifestyle factors that may influence AFib, like sleep, alcohol consumption, and exercise.
Users can download a PDF with a detailed history of their AFib and lifestyle factors, which can easily be shared with doctors and care providers for more informed conversations.
The new Medications experience on Apple Watch and iPhone helps users manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements, allowing them to create a medications list, set up schedules and reminders, and view information on their medications in the Health app. Williams says the Medications app on Apple Watch makes it easy for users to conveniently and discreetly track medications anytime, anywhere.
Custom schedules can be created for each medication, whether it needs to be taken multiple times a day, once a week, or as needed, and users can set up reminders to help keep them on track. In the US, users can receive an alert if there are potential critical interactions with medications they have added to the Health app.
Privacy is fundamental in the design and development across all of Apple’s features. When a user’s iPhone is locked with a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID, all of their health and fitness data in the Health app — other than Medical ID — is encrypted. Any Health data backed up to iCloud is encrypted both in transit and on Apple servers.
Additional watchOS 9 updates, according to Apple:
- Staying informed in the moment is a powerful part of the Apple Watch experience, and in watchOS 9, notifications have been redesigned to be less interruptive while still being impactful, arriving with new slimline banners when Apple Watch is being actively used.
- Family Setup now supports the Home app so a child can be invited as a member to control HomePod speakers and smart home accessories.4 They can also use home keys and hotel keys in Apple Wallet.
- With new Quick Actions on Apple Watch, users can do even more with a double-pinch gesture, including answer or end a phone call, take a photo, play or pause media in the Now Playing app, and start, pause, or resume a workout. This builds on the innovative technology used in AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch, which gives users with upper body limb differences the option to control Apple Watch with gestures like a pinch or a clench without having to tap the display.
- Apple Watch becomes more accessible than ever for people with physical and motor disabilities with Apple Watch Mirroring, which helps users control Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone. With Apple Watch Mirroring, users can drive Apple Watch using iPhone’s assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control — so they can navigate Apple Watch by using their voice, sound actions, head tracking, and external Made for iPhone switches as alternatives to tapping the Apple Watch display.5 Apple Watch Mirroring uses hardware and software integration, along with advances built on AirPlay, to ensure users who rely on these mobility features can benefit from unique Apple Watch apps like Blood Oxygen, Heart Rate, Mindfulness, and more.
- The QWERTY keyboard on Apple Watch Series 7 adds support for French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil), and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, Latin America).
- Apps that are actively in use are now promoted over the rest of the apps in the redesigned Dock, making it easier for users to quickly return to them.
- The Reminders app now lets users add or edit key details such as date and time, location, tags, and notes.
- Stay productive with the updated Calendar app by creating new events directly from Apple Watch. For the first time, users can access a Week view in addition to updated List, Day, and Month views to support more scrolling through calendar events.
- Cardio Recovery is a useful fitness metric that can be an indicator of cardiovascular health. Apple Watch now provides estimates of Cardio Recovery after an Outdoor Walk, Run, or Hiking workout, even when the workout does not reach peak intensity. This metric can be tracked over time in the Health app.
- New APIs allowdevelopers to build best-in-class third-party apps, with CallKit and share sheet support, access to Photos picker, and the ability to integrate watchOS apps with Apple TV.
The developer beta of watchOS 9 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. A public beta will be available to watchOS users next month at beta.apple.com. watchOS 9 will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple Watch Series 4 or later paired with iPhone 8 or later and iPhone SE (second generation) or later, running iOS 16. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages, or on all devices. Features are subject to change. For more information, visit apple.com/watchos/watchos-preview.