watchOS 9 Announced with New Watch Faces, Improved Fitness and Sleep Tracking, More

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 6 Jun 2022

At WWDC 2022, watchOS 9 turned out to be a significant talking point. The operating system for the Apple Watch now brings more workout types and metrics to track your fitness. Watch faces have been refreshed as well.

Apple has poured in efforts to mainly improve connectivity and fitness apps. Besides, the ability to control Home devices and new keyboard languages have been added as well. 

Enhanced Atrial Fibrillation Detection

Just hours before WWDC commenced, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greenlighted an enhanced atrial fibrillation detection feature for the Apple Watch. The feature is a boon to patients suffering from cardiac issues characterized by an irregular heartbeat. The Apple Watch can now detect atrial fibrillation more accurately. Users of the wearable will also get access to an in-depth analysis of their cardiac condition. 

Refreshed Watch Faces

Apple technology VP Kevin Lynch took to the stage to show off how the watch faces have been updated. Four of them are new — the Astronomy face, Lunar face, Playtime face, and the Metropolitan face. There are several exciting complications for them as well. You can play around with them using the Digital Crown.

Besides, modernized complications have been added to existing classic watch faces, such as Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog. The Portraits watch faces can now showcase depth on pictures with pets and landscapes. Additionally, you can customize the watch face that shows up and bind it to a Focus profile. So, whenever you turn on Focus, your watch face automatically changes to show you what’s relevant. 

More Workouts

Apple has included three new running metrics—Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation. It allows you to avoid injury. Using simple measurements such as gyroscope measurements, the Apple Watch helps you optimize your running when you see trends over time and learn from your patterns. 

Triathlon athletes can enjoy a new workout type called Multisport, so they can effortlessly switch from swimming to cycling to running in no particular order. The Apple Watch automatically detects movement patterns and adapts. A summary will be available in the Health app on iPhone after the workout concludes like any other workout. Interactive charts have been added to enable more precise analytics. 

watchOS 9 also lets you compete against yourself. You can try to beat your best or last result on a frequent running route. Alerts will helpfully tell you when you’re going off the route or falling behind your pace. 

WWDC 2022 WatchOS 9 Triathletes

New Granular Controls and Feedback

The Apple Watch also helps you set power targets and track how your workouts help you. You can also have the wearable tell you when to pick up the pace and when you should cool down to avoid injury. The wearable will alert you using subtle vibrations and notifications. 

You can use the Digital Crown to rotate between Workout Views, each of which pertains to specific training styles and shows you only the relevant data. 

With watchOS 9, Apple has also introduced Custom Workouts, where you can define the workout and rest intervals. 

WWDC 2022 WatchOS 9 Vertical Oscillation Running

Sleep Insights

The iPhone maker has improved the sleep tracking system on watchOS 9. It allows you to create Wind Down and bedtime schedules to meet your goals. Furthermore, the Apple Watch can detect when users are in REM, Core, and Deep sleep. The Sleep app on the wearable shows wearers more detailed statistics like time asleep, respiratory rate, and heart rate. 

WWDC 2022 WatchOS 9 Sleep

Medication Tracking

One of the most significant improvements to watchOS 9 could make it a lot easier to ensure you take your pills on time. You can use the iPhone camera to add your medicines to the Health app. Then, the Apple Watch can tell you when to take the correct doses. The app also lets you create medication lists and schedules to consume the prescribed pills, replete with reminders. The Health app also helps track your family’s health and how their medications are being consumed. 

In the US, you will be alerted if medications you add have “potential critical interactions” with those already on your schedule. 

WWDC 2022 WatchOS 9 Medicine

Other Improvements

The Cupertino giant also made several more minor changes to Apple Watch and its accompanying OS. 

  • Redesigned notifications are impactful yet less intrusive with slimline banners when you’re using the Apple Watch.
  • Family Setup allows you to invite children as members to control smart home accessories using the Home app. The added members can also use home keys and hotel keys using Apple Wallet. 
  • Quick Actions allows you to get more done on the Apple Watch faster. You can use the double pinch gesture to take photos, play/pause media, take phone calls, and pause/resume workouts. 
  • Apple Watch Mirroring helps control the wearable remotely using a connected iPhone. You can call upon the iPhone’s assistive features to manage the Apple Watch. 
  • The QWERTY keyboard on the Apple Watch has been updated to support French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish input. 
  • The redesigned dock makes it easier to return to apps you were actively using. 
  • The Reminders app now lets users add or edit critical details such as date and time, location, tags, and notes.
  • 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. You can even create new events right on your wrist. 
  • Apple Watch now provides estimates of Cardio Recovery after an Outdoor Walk, Run, or Hiking workout, even when the exercise 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 developer beta for watchOS 9 is already available for developers. A public beta build will be rolled out sometime next month, and the masses can expect to get their hands on the software this fall. WatchOS 9 is compatible with the iPhone SE 2 and Apple Watch Series 4 or newer models. The wearable must be paired to an iPhone 8 or newer model running iOS 16.