At is WWDC 2021 event Apple introduced its WatchOS 8, the next major update to WatchOS for Apple watch devices with several new features such as new Wallet and Home apps features, new Breathe features, new Tai Chi and Pilates workout types, new Portraits watch face and enhancements to Messages and the Photos app.
Put your favorite photos of friends and family front and center. Featuring a dynamic, multilayered effect, this new watch face uses Portrait mode photos from your iPhone to give the people you care about a starring role.
Photo highlights from your Memories and Featured Photos now automatically sync to your watch, serving up something new every day. The photo collection from your Memories is displayed in a unique mosaic grid, giving you a richer view of your library. With a few taps, now you can share photos via Messages and Mail.
Redesigned Home App
The redesigned Home app in watchOS 8 offers more convenient access to accessories and scenes needed in a particular moment, and the ability to control accessories by room. Users with a HomeKit-enabled camera can view who is at the door directly on their wrist. Apple Watch users can also tap Intercom to quickly broadcast a message throughout the home or to individual rooms via HomePod, HomePod mini, or other personal devices.
The current status of all your devices is now conveniently displayed at the top of the Home app screen. Instantly see if your lights or cameras are on, whether your batteries are charged, or if your software needs updating.
Wallet now has Ultra Wideband support for digital car keys on Apple Watch Series 6 that lets them securely unlock their car from a distance and start it from the driver’s seat. This fall, users can also add keys for their home, office, and hotel to Wallet, and tap their Apple Watch to unlock. 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.
New Workout Types
watchOS 8 introduces two new popular workout types that are beneficial for both physical fitness and mindful movement: Tai Chi and Pilates. These new workout types are supported by powerful, validated custom-built heart rate and motion algorithms to provide users with accurate metrics.
Breathe app is now 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
Apple Watch already tracks sleep metrics like time asleep, heart rate, and blood oxygen. watchOS 8 lets you track 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 HealthKit.
Messages, Contacts and Focus
New tools in Messages lets users 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. To easily add even more expression to a message, users can simply enter a word or phrase and select from hundreds of trending GIFs. The new Contacts app lets users browse, add, and edit contacts, and share contacts directly from the app. It also brings Focus, a powerful set of tools available in iOS 15 to help users reduce distraction and be in the moment.
Other updates in WatchOS 8 include:
- Multiple timers with specific label using Siri (such as “Laundry Timer” or “Cooking Timer”).
- More Apple Watch apps now support Always-On display, including Maps, Mindfulness, Now Playing, Phone, Podcasts, Stopwatch, Timers, Voice Memos, and others.
- 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.
- 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+ gets Picture in Picture support and new filtering options, and users can stop and resume an in-progress workout on any device.
The developer beta of WatchOS 8 is available to Apple Developer Program members, and public beta begins in July before stable roll out in the fall. Compatible devices include Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later, running iOS 15.