Apple Monday officially announced watchOS 9, featuring more customizable watch faces, an improved workout app, atrial fibrillation history, and more.
WatchOS 9 Features New Customizable Watch Faces
In watchOS 9, Apple adds four new watch faces, Lunar, Playtime, Metropolitan, and Astronomy. Likewise, classic watch faces such as Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog will be getting enhanced and modernized complications. Apple Watch users will also be able to edit the background color for Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large for additional personalization. The new watchOS will also bring in a new Portrait face that shows depth effect on more photos. And watch faces will also have interplay with Focus on iPhone. Users will be able to select watch faces that correspond to specific Focus modes on iPhone.
Apple watchOS 9 Has Improved Workout App
Apple watchOS 9 also updates the Workout app with richer metrics and training experiences to help users achieve fitness goals. For starters, the in-session display now uses the Digital Crown to allow users to rotate between easy-to-read workout views. This means users can now see important metrics for different training styles.
Additionally, Health Rate Zones now let users monitor the intensity of a workout. This can be manually created or automatically calculated using personalized Health data.
Apple watchOS 9 will now allow users to create Custom Workouts. This structured workout can include work and rest intervals. Users will also be able to add new alerts such as pace, power, heart rate, and cadence.
For triathletes, the Workout app now supports a new Multisport workout type. This allows users to switch between any sequence of swimming, biking, and running workouts. The app uses motion sensors to recognize movement patterns. When a user finishes a workout, the app will display a redesigned summary page in the Fitness app.
Additionally, watchOS 9 offers new features for runners including more data for tracking running efficiency. These include new running form metrics such as Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation. All these metrics will be displayed in the Fitness app summary as well as in the Health app.
Fitness App Now Available for iPhone Users and Fitness+ Updates
For Apple Fitness+, watchOS 9 now displays on-screen guidance in addition to trainer coaching. This will help users get the most out of workouts, including Intensity for HIIT, Cycling, Rowing, and Treadmill; Stroker per Minute (SPM) for Rowing; Revolutions per Minute (RPM) for Cycling; and Incline for walkers and runners on Treadmill.
Additionally, Apple Fitness+ subscribers who don’t own an Apple TV will now be able to use AirPlay to stream workouts and meditations with on-screen metrics to compatible third-party TVs and devices.
It should also be noted that the Apple Fitness app can now be accessed even without an Apple Watch. The app will be available as part of the new features of iOS 16.
Atrial Fibrillation History Now Available in WatchOS 9
As previously rumored, watchOS 9 will allow Apple Watch users to turn on the FDA-cleared AFib History feature and access important information. This includes an estimate of how frequently a user’s heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Users will also be able to receive weekly notifications to help understand the frequency and view a detailed history in the Health app. This will include various lifestyle factors that affect AFib, such as sleep, alcohol consumption, and exercise.
Additionally, users will be able to download PDFs of AFib history and lifestyle factors that they can share with their doctors and care providers.
Other Features Coming to WatchOS 9
Other features coming to watchOS 9 include an all-new Medications app for tracking medications, vitamins, and supplements. The app allows users to create a medications list, set up schedules and reminders, and view the information in the Health app,
Apple watchOS 9 will also have fewer interruptive notifications, family setup, quick actions, watch mirroring, QWERTY keyboard, and a redesigned Dock. The Reminders app and Calendar app also receive some minor updates. Lastly, the Cardio Recovery app now provides estimates of Cardio Recovery after an Outdoor walk, run, or hiking workout.
Availability of WatchOS 9
Apple will release the final version of watchOS 9 this fall as a free update to Apple Watch owners. Note that it will be available for Apple Watch Series 4 and later. This could mean Apple is dropping support for Apple Watch Series 3.