Apple releases watchOS 9 with new features

Apple released iOS 16 and watchOS 9 today, updating the leading wearable OS with new features and improved experiences. Users of the Apple Watch now have access to a wider selection of watch faces, many of which feature intricate complexities that add both functionality and customization options.

The redesigned Workout app now features enhanced stats, perspectives, and training experiences based on the practices of elite athletes. When a user has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), the Sleep app’s new FDA-cleared AFib History feature can give them more in-depth information about their condition. The redesigned Medication App makes it simple and discrete for users to manage, comprehend, and track their medications.

New and Expanded Watch Faces

WatchOS 9 offers four faces. Lunar shows the connection between the Gregorian and lunar calendars in Chinese, Hebrew, and Islamic cultures. Playtime is a dynamic piece of art made in collaboration with artist Joi Fulton. Metropolitan is a type-driven watch face whose style changes when the Digital Crown is turned. Astronomy is an original face with a new star map and cloud data.

The update adds modernized details to traditional watch faces including Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog, and backdrop colour editing for Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large. Portraits’ faces show a depth effect on additional photographs, including animals, pets, and landscapes. California and Typograph watch faces now include Chinese letters.

Any Apple Watch user running watchOS 9 may access all the Nike watch faces, including the Bounce face’s new colours. Focus lets users choose an Apple Watch face to automatically appear when they start a certain focus on iPhone, such as the Photos face during a Personal Focus, letting them stay in the moment. Lunar illustrates how the Gregorian and lunar calendars interact.

Workout App Updates

One of the most popular Apple Watch apps, Workout, has been updated to give users better ways to track their performance and more ways to train to help them reach their fitness goals.

  • The traditional in-session display now leverages the Digital Crown to cycle between easy-to-read workout views so users can see crucial metrics for different training regimens.
  • Heart Rate Zones and personal Health data can be utilized to monitor workout intensity.
  • For interval training, the Program app has a feature called “Custom Workouts.” This lets you make a planned workout that includes both work and rest periods.

  • New signals, including pace, power, heart rate, and cadence, can help users through their workout.
  • Heart rate zones can be used to track training intensity in workouts.
  • For triathletes and duathletes, the Exercise app now offers a new Multisport workout type that automatically transitions between swimming, riding, and running workouts. A revamped summary page in the iPhone Fitness app gives more details and interactive graphics for workout analysis.
  • The Workout app now has a Multisport Workout option that automatically alternates between swimming, biking, and running sessions.
Updates for Runners

Apple Watch is a fantastic tool for runners, and watchOS 9 adds data and tools to track efficiency. Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation can be added to Workout Views.

  • Users can see trends and patterns in the Fitness app summary and the Health app using these metrics.
  • A new “Pacer” experience lets users set a distance and time objective for a run and estimates the pace needed to reach it.
  • During exercise, they can follow pace alerts and stats. Expected later this year, Race Route lets users race against their best or last performance on regularly completed routes and get in-session pacing coaching.
  • A new Track running experience coming to the US later this year identifies when users are at a running track and combines Apple Maps data and GPS to deliver pace and distance information for runners.
Swimming Enhancements

Apple Watch sensor fusion automatically detects when users are swimming with a kickboard and classifies the stroke type in the workout summary along with the distance swum. SWOLF scores measure a swimmer’s efficiency by combining stroke count and lap time. The workout summary displays the SWOLF average for each set.

Redesigned Compass App

A revamped Compass app delivers more information and zoomable views, including a hybrid view that shows both an analogue and digital compass.
Turning the Digital Crown provides latitude, longitude, elevation, and inclination, as well as compass waypoints and backtrack.

  • Backtrack uses GPS data to generate a path showing where the user has been, which helps if they get lost or disoriented. It can turn on automatically when it is off the grid.
  • Compass Waypoints are a simple method to mark a location in the app. Tapping a compass waypoint drops a waypoint. Selecting one shows the waypoint’s direction and distance.
  • The revamped Compass app features Waypoints, a simple method to mark a location.
Sleep Insights

Apple Watch owners can build wind-down and bedtime programme and track their sleep to accomplish their goals. WatchOS 9’s sleep monitoring now includes sleep phases. Apple Watch can determine when users are in REM, core, or deep sleep and awake using accelerometer and heart rate sensor readings.

Apple Watch users can access sleep stage data in the Sleep app and more specific information, like time sleeping, in the Health app on the iPhone.
The machine learning models were trained and validated with one of the largest and most diverse wearable populations ever analyzed.
As sleep science is still being researched, US users can contribute sleep stage data to the Apple Heart and Movement Study through the Research app.

First-of-Its-Kind AFib History

AFib may affect a person’s symptoms, quality of life, and risk of complications, according to research.

  • There was no practical way to track AFib over time or control lifestyle factors that may affect it.
  • With watchOS 9, users with AFib can turn on the FDA-cleared AFib History function to get vital information, including an estimate of how often their heart rhythm shows AFib indications.
  • Users will receive weekly notifications to understand frequency and check a complete history on the Health app, including sleep, alcohol usage, and exercise.
  • Users can obtain a PDF containing their AFib and lifestyle history to share with doctors and care providers.

The new Medication experience on Apple Watch and iPhone allows users to manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements by creating a list, setting schedules and reminders, and viewing information in the Health app.

  • The Medications app on Apple Watch lets users track medications anywhere, anytime.
  • Users may build custom regimens for each prescription, whether it’s taken daily, weekly, or as needed, and set reminders to stay on track.
  • In the US, people can use the camera on their iPhones to add drugs and get alerts if there are important interactions.
Updates to Cycle Tracking

With iOS 16 and watchOS 9, users of Cycle Tracking can get a notification if their registered cycle history shows a possible deviation, such as irregular, infrequent, or long periods and persistent spotting.


All of a user’s health and fitness data in the Health app is encrypted while their iPhone is locked with a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID. Apple encrypts health data in transit and on its servers. When you use two-factor authentication and a passcode to save health app data to iCloud, the data is encrypted from end to end.

Additional watchOS 9 Updates
  • Low Power Mode extends battery life, maintaining core Apple Watch features like Activity tracking and Fall Detection, while disabling or limiting select sensors and features like background heart rate monitoring and the Always-On display.
  • Users can now stay connected to a cellular network while traveling abroad with international roaming plans.
  • Notifications have been redesigned to be less interruptive while still being impactful, arriving with new slimline banners when Apple Watch is being actively used.
  • Coming later this year, Family Setup will support the Home app so a child can be invited as a member to control HomePod speakers and smart home accessories.5 They will also be able to use home keys and hotel keys in Apple Wallet.
  • With new Quick Actions on Apple Watch, users with upper body limb differences can do even more with a double-pinch gesture, including 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.
  • Apple Watch becomes more accessible than ever for people with physical and motor disabilities with Apple Watch Mirroring, which helps users control Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone. With Apple Watch Mirroring, users can drive Apple Watch using assistive features on iPhone like Voice Control and Switch Control — so they can navigate Apple Watch by using their voice, sound actions, head tracking, and external Made for iPhone switches as alternatives to tapping the Apple Watch display.
  • The QWERTY keyboard on Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra now has support for French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, Latin America).
  • The updated Calendar app allows the creation of new events directly from Apple Watch. For the first time, users can access a Week view in addition to updated List, Day, and Month views to support more scrolling through calendar events.
  • Cardio Recovery is a useful fitness metric that can be an indicator of cardiovascular health. Apple Watch now provides estimates of Cardio Recovery after an Outdoor Walk, Run, or Hiking workout, even when the workout does not reach peak intensity. This metric can be tracked over time in the Health app.
  • New APIs allow developers to build best-in-class third-party apps, with CallKit and share sheet support, access to Photos picker, and the ability to integrate watchOS apps with Apple TV.

The watchOS 9 update is available starting today for Apple Watch Series 4 or later paired with an iPhone 8 or later and an iPhone SE (2nd generation) or later, running iOS 16. Apple also cites that some features may not be available in all regions, all languages, or with all makes and models.