Apple has just announced watchOS 8, the latest software for many of its Apple Watch models. As expected, the update includes several new health and “mindfulness” features, improvements to the Apple Watch Photos app, home controls, and other small updates throughout.
First off, Apple introduced a new Mindfulness app for Apple Watch. This combines the old breathe app with a few other changes and animations to help users remember to “breathe and relax throughout the day.” Seriously.
While we’re being mindful of our health, the Health app now has an option to measure respiratory rates while you sleep. Plus, the Fitness app for Apple Watch adds new workout types for pilates and other popular fitness regimes, with custom-built heart rate and motion algorithms for more accurate stats.
The Home app for Apple Watch will take advantage of some of the latest Homekit features too. You’ll be able to broadcast messages throughout your home on all HomePod speakers, control accessories by room, or even view who’s at your door right from your wrist with a Homekit-enabled camera.
With watchOS 8, photos and the Photos app, in general, are vastly improved. There’s a new watch face that uses portrait-mode photos from your iPhone. Then you can add layers of text and info to the portrait photo and set it as the background. The Photos app itself has new layouts, new controls, and the ability to share photos on Apple Watch through messages or Apple mail.
Many people set timers with their watch, but now you’ll be able to set multiple timers, and it’ll understand and save them all. Better yet, you can add specific names to them, like “Laundry Timer.”
Your watch will be able to enjoy several useful new features in iOS 15, too. Everything from the Focus mode, new weather app, improvements to the Find My app and network, and more apps support the Always-on display mode. Later this year, you’ll even be able to add your state ID or license to your Apple Watch wallet, then use that in TSA lines as a digital ID.
Apple states that watchOS 8 will be available for all models back to the Series 3, and developers can give it a try. Then, there’s a public beta coming soon, followed by the official watchOS 8 release date later this fall for the general public.