There are some major features in watchOS 9 that could actually save your life. Apple debuted the latest OS for Apple Watch during WWDC 2022, showing us some convenient apps designed specifically for people who have atrial fibrillation and those who take a bunch of different medications.
On top of that, Apple added better sleep and fitness tracking, while improving the overall UI experience of watchOS 9. There’s no signs of any Low Power Mode or car crash detection features that previous rumors pointed to, but these are still very important additions to watchOS.
Medication reminders — WatchOS 9 will feature a Medications app that lets Apple Watch users set up schedules and reminders for taking medications, vitamins, or supplements. You can add medications to the app by searching for the name or by using your iPhone to scan the bottle’s label.
The app acts as a discrete way to stay on top of all the medications you’re taking, and pings your Apple Watch when it’s time to take your doses. More importantly, the app tells you if there are any potential critical interactions between the medications you use and things to avoid accordingly, like drinking alcohol.
Detailing AFib history — Apple Watch already has the ability to identify any potential signs of atrial fibrillation, or when your heart beats irregularly and causes poor blood flow, but Apple wanted to give users even more insight with the AFib history feature that tells you how much time your heart is spending in AFib and what time of of day it happens most frequently.
The watchOS 9 feature will tell you what lifestyle factors could be influencing your AFib, like exercise, sleep or weight. All this info is crucial for anyone with AFib and watchOS 9 will even give you a detailed history that you can share with your doctor for better insight.
Better strength and sleep — While not as serious, there are a bunch of updates to the fitness and sleep tracking features on watchOS 9. Apple added a new multisport mode in its Workout app that can automatically switch between activities by using motion sensors to recognize movement patterns. The new watchOS 9 can even track your running form using three new metrics: Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation.
As for sleep tracking, watchOS 9 gives you much better detail through sleep stages. With the new OS, Apple Watches can discern if you’re in REM, core, deep sleep, or awake by using the accelerometer and heart rate sensor.
Improved design — Besides all the new features, Apple added in some more minor things to make the Apple Watch a little easier to use. There’s a much less interruptive design for notifications now, and you get more quick actions like answering or ending a call, taking a photo, or playing or pausing media. The watchOS 9’s redesigned dock also makes it easier to jump between apps, particularly the ones that are currently being used since they’ll be up front. There are four new watch faces too, including Lunar, Playtime, Metropolitan, and Astronomy.
Available in the fall — Apple already made watchOS 9 available for developers, but the public beta will start next month. For the rest of us, watchOS 9 will be officially available this fall. It is a bit of a letdown that watchOS 9 won’t have a Low Power Mode or a car crash detection feature, but still, life will be much easier for some Apple Watch users with the updates — even if they have to keep dealing with the meager battery life.