As the linear nature of time means we keep moving inexorably forward, so too the linear nature of Apple product news means we now start thinking about watchOS 9. With WWDC moving ever closer, expectations are high that as in previous years, Apple will make an announcement regarding the latest operating system for their hugely popular line of smartwatches.
We've rounded up everything we know about watchOS 9. There are plenty of new additions expected, potentially making this a far more significant update than its predecessor. Here are all the details.
watchOS 9: Predicted Release Date
While, as ever, Apple continues to play its cards close to its chest, the consensus is that they will announce watchOS 9 at WWDC 2022 on June 6th, alongside iOS 16. This would be consistent with previous years.
The expectation is that we would then see watchOS 9 enter a Beta testing period (we'll cover this a bit later) before a full release alongside Apple Watch 8, sometime in the Autumn - most likely September. This would be very much in keeping with the historic release cycle for the Apple Watch. September has been the release date for almost every Apple Watch since the Series 1. So it would be a big surprise if Apple departs from that timeline this year.
watchOS 9: Which Watches Work?
In terms of watchOS 9 compatibility, we'd expect at least a few generations of the Apple Watch to be eligible for the new OS. Once again, nothing is confirmed at this stage. But best guesses are that models from the Apple Watch 4 onwards will be eligible.
The Apple Watch 3 has a significant question mark hanging over it, given that there are rumours that it might be discontinued this year. If that's the case, then it's questionable whether Apple will bother to make it eligible for watchOS 9.
watchOS 9: Rumoured Features
There is a lot of excited speculation about the features we are expecting to see on the new OS when it comes out. But until Apple states something officially, nothing is guaranteed.
In the meantime, here's what's expected:
Low Power Mode
Battery life has never been the strongest part of the Apple Watch offering. Typical battery life is around 18 hours. Which might be plenty for most, but if you wear it all day and then want to track your sleep, it can be a problem. And while many smartwatches need charging daily, there are some, like the Withings Scanwatch, that last for weeks. It's an area where Apple can definitely improve.
And low power mode may be a step in the right direction. At the moment, your only option is to use Power Reserve. This lets you check the time on your watch when the battery is low, and little else. Low power mode is expected to enable you to still use apps and other features, without chewing up your precious battery.
Body Temperature Monitoring
As reported by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, there may be as many as three new models of Apple Watch being released this year. The expectation is that these would have a body temperature sensor. As such, we would expect the new OS to offer features that make this usable.
There is still a question mark over what exactly this would be for. Some suggestions indicate that this will initially be intended to support fertility planning, with the possibility of future features to be added at a later date.
Another feature rumoured to be coming is crash detection. This is rumoured to be coming to both iOS and watchOS this year. The new feature would be able to automatically detect if you have been involved in a car accident. It could then automatically contact the emergency services.
The Apple Watch already has fall detection. Crash detection would almost be an extension of this.
Upgrades to Health and Activity Tracking
While there are still no concrete details on this from Apple, Mark Gurman has reported that watchOS will receive major upgrades to health tracking". Potentially this will include new workouts, and a pill medication reminder app. This will remind you if you need to take your medicine. There's also talk of an improved atrial fibrillation detection.
And Some Less Likely Features
There has been speculation that the new OS will introduce blood glucose monitoring, and a blood-pressure monitor. Blood pressure can already be measured by some Apple rivals, notably the Samsung Galaxy Watch4. But these aren't perfect, as they have to be routinely recalibrated with a blood pressure cuff.
While there is hope that these will be available on watchOS 9, these are far from certain. Current rumours suggest blood pressure monitoring might not be available before 2024. And blood sugar monitoring may be even further behind.
watchOS 9: Is There a Public Beta?
As we mentioned earlier, there is almost certainly going to be a public Beta period. Usually, these open after the developer Beta. You can sign up for more information on Apple's Beta Software Program on their website.
There's still plenty of time for more information to leak out before WWDC. And as always, we'll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we hear anything new!