Apple’s new watchOS 8 previewed this month offers impactful new features that make the world’s most advanced
wearable operating system even more essential for users to stay healthy, active, and connected. Updates to the Wallet and Home apps extend Apple Watch as an increasingly useful tool for convenient access across the car and places users live, work, and visit. A reimagined Breathe app and new Tai Chi and Pilates workout types help users lead a fit and healthy life and support mental well-being, while a new Portraits watch face and enhancements to Messages and the Photos app make staying connected to loved ones even easier.
“Apple Watch is the most loved watch in the world, keeping users healthy, active, and connected,” said Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of Technology. “With watchOS 8, we’re bringing more convenient access to places users live, work, and visit with significant updates to Home and Wallet, expanding support for both physical and mental well being, and enabling richer personal connections with the new Portraits face and updates to Messages.”
A New Approach to Mindfulness
Now more than ever, people are recognizing the importance of finding small moments in their day to be more mindful. 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. For example, the user may see something like “Recall a time recently when you felt a sense of calm. Bring that feeling into this moment,” or “Reflect on one thing you’re grateful for and think about why you appreciate it so much.”
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
The Apple Watch helps users meet their sleep goals by establishing a pre-bedtime routine, and tracks metrics like time asleep, heart rate, and blood oxygen. watchOS 8 gives users even more insight into their overall wellness by tracking sleeping respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths per minute. To do this, Apple Watch uses the built-in accelerometer to measure respiratory rate while sleeping, and this information can be viewed, along with trends over time, in the Health app on iPhone. This metric is also available for developers to use with permission through HealthKi.
watchOS 8 supports Focus, a powerful set of tools available in iOS 15 to help users reduce distraction and be in the moment. Apple Watch will automatically align with any Focus set on iOS, so that notifications from people and apps are filtered based on what a user is currently doing. 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.
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.
Fitness+ also 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.
More Access with Wallet
With Apple Watch, it is incredibly convenient to use Apple Pay and Wallet to make secure, contactless payments in stores or ride transit. With watchOS 8, Wallet brings even more powerful contact-free ways for users to access the places and things they care about seamlessly, safely, and securely.
First announced at WWDC in 2020, Ultra Wideband support now arrives 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.1 This fall, users can also add keys for their home, office, and hotel to Wallet, and tap their Apple Watch to unlock.2 Later this year, beginning with participating states in the US, users 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.