Apple introduces watchOS 9 with enhanced Workout app, AFib History feature, a Medications app and more

Among the many announcements at Apple’s WWDC 2022 keynote event yesterday was the introduction of watchOS 9. Apple unveiled the next version of the operating system for the Apple Watch, and it comes with an enhanced Workout app, an AFib History feature, a new Medications app, and of course lots more customisable watch faces.

New Watch faces and complications

watchOS 9 introduces 4 new watch faces –

  • Lunar, which depicts the relationship between the Gregorian calendar and lunar calendar
  • 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
  • Astronomy, an original face that has been completely remastered and features a new star map and current cloud data.

Coming to the complications, there are new ones for watch faces, such as Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog, along with background colour editing for Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large for additional personalisation. The new Portraits face showcases the depth effect on more photos, including cats, dogs, and landscapes

Enhanced Workout App 

The Workout app for watchOS has been updated with richer metrics and new training experiences to help users reach fitness goals. Users can use the Digital Crown to rotate between easy-to-read Workout Views, so users can see important metrics for different training styles. The Workout app now supports Heart Rate Zones, which can be manually created or automatically calculated, and it also supports Custom Workouts, which can be used to create a structured workout that can include work and rest intervals.

There is a new Multisport workout type that can automatically switch between any sequence of swimming, biking, and running workouts, using motion sensors to recognise movement patterns.

New metrics for runners and swimmers 

The Apple Watch can now show metrics such as Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation. Users can also choose to race against their best or last result on frequently used routes, and receive alerts during the workout for being ahead or behind their pace, as well as when going off route.

For swimmers, kickboard detection has been added as a new stroke type for Pool Swim workouts. Swimmers can also track their efficiency with a SWOLF score — a stroke count combined with the time, in seconds, it takes to swim one length of the pool.

Fitness+ updates

With watchOS 9, Fitness+ workouts now display on-screen guidance in addition to trainer coaching. This will be available for metrics such as Intensity for HIIT, Cycling, Rowing, and Treadmill; Strokes per Minute (SPM) for Rowing; Revolutions per Minute (RPM) for Cycling; and Incline for walkers and runners in Treadmill.

Sleep tracking updates

Sleep tracking in watchOS 9 has received a couple of updates. It can now detect and show when users are in REM, Core, or Deep sleep. This data will be visible in the Sleep app, which will also show additional metrics, like heart rate and respiratory rate.

A-fib history

With watchOS 9, users can track how frequently their heart rhythm shows signs of AFib, providing deeper insights into their condition. They can receive weekly notifications to understand frequency and view a detailed history in the Health app, including lifestyle factors that may influence AFib. This data will be downloadable and can easily be shared with doctors and care providers.

Medications app

The new Medications app can help Apple Watch and iPhone helps users manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements. Users can create medications list, set up schedules and reminders, and view information on their medications in the Health app. In the US, users can receive an alert if there are potential critical interactions with medications they have added to the Health app

Other features 
  • Notifications on the Apple Watch have been redesigned to be less interruptive while still being impactful
  • Family Setup now supports the Home app, so a child can be invited as a member to control HomePod speakers and smart home accessories
  • Apple Watch Mirroring allows users to control their Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone
  • There are new Quick Actions that allow users to 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.
  • The Reminders app now lets users add or edit key details such as date and time, location, tags, and notes.
  • The Calendar app now allows creating new events directly from Apple Watch.
  • Cardio Recovery is a useful fitness metric that can be an indicator of cardiovascular health

The developer beta of watchOS 9 is available to Apple Developer Program members starting today. A public beta will be available to watchOS users next month. watchOS 9 will be available this fall for Apple Watch Series 4 or later.