Apple announced watchOS 9 with new Watch faces, enhanced features for Fitness, and more

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Apple announced watchOS 9 with new Watch faces, enhanced features for Fitness, and more
watchOS 9 brings new experiences and features, app updates, and creative ways to customize Apple Watch to fit any style (Source: Apple Inc.)

Apple today unveiled watchOS 9, which includes more watch face options with more in-depth customization options, notifications improvements, new functionality in the Workout app, and more for the Apple Watch.

The new watch faces in watchOS 9 are similar to iOS 16‘s new lock screen in that they allow users to customize each face. Lunar, Playtime, Metropolitan, and Astronomy are the four new watch faces; classic watch faces have also been updated to show showcase watchOS 9’s enhanced depth effects.

In terms of specific apps, the Workout app has been revamped to include detailed performance stats as well as a new training experience to help you achieve your fitness goals. By rotating the Digital Crown, you can see multiple Workout Views and switch between different training types during a workout.

watchOS 9 - Rich metrics
The Workout app has been updated to provide richer metrics for measuring performance, and new views and training experiences inspired by high-performing athletes to help users take their workouts to the next level (Source: Apple Inc.)

Custom Workouts allow for work and rest periods during a workout, while Heart Rate Zones help measure the intensity of a workout. New notifications can also be set to guide you through the workout, such as pace, power, heart rate, cadence, and more.

Metrics such as stride length, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation will be available to runners. These may be found in the Fitness app summary and the Health app, and they allow runners to track trends over time and learn from their habits.


Runners can race against their own ghost times, including their best or last results, and receive alerts if they are ahead of or behind their ghost during the run. Finally, there are some changes to swimming workouts, such as the addition of kickboard detection as a new stroke type.

With the new sleep stages feature, Apple Watch will be able to capture additional sleep data. WatchOS 9 can determine when users are in REM, Core, or Deep sleep using readings from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor. When you wake up, all of these stats will be visible in the Sleep app.

watchOS 9 - Sleep app with sleep stages
watchOS 9 adds even more insights to the Sleep app with sleep stages. Using signals from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor, Apple Watch can detect when users are in REM, Core, or Deep sleep (Source: Apple Inc.)

Anyone who has been diagnosed with AFib can use watchOS 9’s new AFib History function to get critical information. The FDA has approved this function, which provides an estimate of how frequently a user’s heart rhythm shows indications of AFib, among other things.

watchOS 9 - AFib History estimates the time
For users diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, AFib History estimates the time a user’s heart is in AFib and provides useful insights on lifestyle factors that may influence their condition (Source: Apple Inc.)

On watchOS 9 and iOS 16, there’s also a new Medications experience that can track a user’s medications, vitamins, and supplements. In the Health app, they may create a medication list, set up schedules and reminders, and access information about their medications.

watchOS 9 - Medications Schedules
The new Medications experience on Apple Watch and iPhone helps users manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements (Source: Apple Inc.)

The Health app keeps track of all medications and can even notify users if it detects any potentially dangerous interactions between two new prescriptions (for people in the United States). Otherwise, it will let users set up schedules to remind them to take their medications.


watchOS 9 release date & compatibility

The new watchOS 9 is now available to Apple Developer Program members as a developer beta, with a public beta coming next month. It’ll be available to the general public this fall as a free software update for Apple Watch Series 4 or later, used with an iPhone 8 or later or an iPhone SE (2nd generation) running iOS 16.

watchOS 9 requires iPhone 8 or later or an iPhone SE (2nd generation) with iOS 16 or later, check the full compatibility of the Apple Watch below:

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7