Apple unveiled the next-generation software for iPhone, iPad, and Mac at the WWDC 2021 last night. The company also teased upcoming features coming to its watchOS 8 designed for Apple Watches; however, only a portion of the event was dedicated to it. Apple has now shared a release that includes more details on new workout modes and mindfulness features, as well as an improved data capturing tool coming to the next-gen watchOS. Sadly, Apple Watch models are still tethered to iPhones, and users cannot use them with Apple’s own iPads yet. It also means that Apple smartwatches aren’t still a fully independent commodity.
Starting with the redesigned Home app, Apple says the updated application will give convenient access to accessories and “scenes needed in a particular moment.” Users with a HomeKit-enabled camera can view who is at the door directly on their smartwatch. With watchOS 8, Apple Watch users can tap Intercom to quickly broadcast a message throughout the home or to individual rooms via HomePod, HomePod mini, or other personal devices. In terms of workouts, watchOS 8 introduces two new workout types aimed to improve physical fitness and mindful movement. Apple says the new Tai Chi and Pilates workouts are supported by “custom-built heart rate and motion algorithms” to provide users with accurate metrics. The Breathe app is also becoming the Mindfulness app, featuring an improved Breathe experience plus a new session type called ‘Reflect.’ It will focus on exercises that can be completed in a minute to bring a “positive frame of mind.”
Last year, Apple introduced sleep tracking to the Apple Watch and watchOS 8 expands on the initially limited offerings. Users can now track metrics like time to sleep, heart rate, blood oxygen levels and respiratory rate via the Health app. Other notable features coming to watchOS (as announced by Apple at the WWDC 2021) include the new Portraits watch face, which puts Portrait-mode photos front-and-centre on the Watch. The Photos app will also receive a redesign with a new layout to make it easier to navigate files. Also coming in watchOS 8 are updated Find My features, ultra-wideband compatibility for digital car keys, support for multiple timers, AssistiveTouch for one-arm use of the Watch, redesigned Music and Weather apps. Lastly, Apple is improving Wallet on Apple Watch to enhance “contact-free ways for users to access the places and things they care about” in addition to new workout modes coming to Apple Fitness+.
In terms of availability, the developer beta of watchOS 8 is available to Apple Developer Programme members starting today. A public beta will be available to watchOS users next month at beta.apple.com. watchOS 8 will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later, running iOS 15. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages, or on all devices.