The WatchOS 9 public beta has just arrived, along with, and the Apple Watch is getting a major software update. Expect detailed running metrics, new watch faces, and even a few hints at the rumored Apple Watch Series 8. The beta update lets us preview most of the new features ahead of the general release at the fall, probably the same time as we expect Apple to announce a and the .
The WatchOS 9 public beta is now available for all Apple Watches from Series 4 onwards. You will also need to install the iOS 16 public beta on the iPhone. Both updates are free to download from Apple, but you should exercise caution when installing any beta software. Features are subject to change by the final release, and there may be bugs or unstable elements. If you plan to install the public beta, I strongly suggest backing up your Apple Watch and iPhone. Here is our complete guide to.
That said, there are plenty of reasons why I’m excited to test the public beta. I’ve been using the developer beta for weeks to find some of the best new features coming to your Apple Watch, and I’ll update this article as I discover more in the public beta to share .
WatchOS 9 looks fresher and more like the iPhone
One of the first things I noticed after installing the public beta was how different notifications looked on the Apple Watch. New banner notifications that look like iPhone ones now appear at the top of your screen. Notifications no longer take up the entire screen when a text or email arrives, unless your watch is idle or locked.
Siri also borrows some of the same look from the iPhone by making the icon appear at the bottom of the screen when you summon the virtual assistant. Also, I really like how you can swipe up to access the control center and now see the text size settings. Before, you had to go to the Settings menu to change the font size.
Another small but welcome improvement is the battery widget, which you can add to the iOS 16 lock screen. Now you can easily see the battery level of the Apple Watch (or AirPods, if you have them connected). ) without unlocking your phone. It even reflects the charging status in real time if you have the watch on its charger.
New watch faces capitalize on the Apple Watch Series 7 display
There are four new watch faces to choose from:
- Metropolitan: a customizable clock face with complications and numerals that pop in and out as you turn the digital crown
- Astronomy: higher resolution than before, and you can now see the evolution of cloud cover updated every hour
- Playback: As the name suggests, large bouncing numbers float around the screen and move when you tap the screen or turn the crown.
- Lunar: displays the lunar calendar when you turn the crown
But my favorite is face in portrait mode, because it now works with pets (wasn’t on WatchOS 8). It’s the watch face that takes portrait mode photos and lets you turn the digital crown to pop your subject in and out of the screen, separate from the background. Existing watch faces like Activity Analog, Kaleidoscope and Numerals have been updated to support rich complications. This makes it easier to see on-screen details, especially on larger screens like the Apple Watch Series 7.
WatchOS 9 boosts the workout app with more screens
A new multisport mode allows you to automatically link two or even three activities at once, without the need to manually stop, restart or switch to another workout using the “add” function. You may participate in a triathlon or just want to run right after jumping off your bike. WatchOS 9 will automatically detect the start of this new activity and switch between workout types as you go, hands-free.
Bloomberg reports one of the rumored editions of the Apple Watch Series 8 could be a “Pro” edition with a rugged finish and intended for extreme sports, so it makes sense to introduce multisport functionality in the new update.
Heart rate zones are more exciting for athletes like me who only do one activity at a time. Your Apple Watch can now show you which heart rate zone you are in at any time during training. Based on your personal estimated maximum heart rate, you may receive alerts when you enter different zones. It can help you know how hard your heart is working during a cardio workout and if you’re reaching your maximum. All of these areas are fully customizable and you can change them by going to Settings > Training > Heart rate zones.
All of the workout screens have also been revamped to show you even more stats when you scroll through the Digital Crown, rather than the single screen of previous versions of WatchOS. Scroll down to see your activity rings to get an idea of how you’re progressing during training. I also like the fact that I can now see a real-time elevation view when I’m on an outdoor run, bike ride, walk, or hike.
WatchOS 9 is designed for runners
For the first time, the Apple Watch will be able to show you running form metrics in the Workout app, including vertical oscillation, stride length, ground contact time, and a running metric. running power. These also appear after your run in the Activity app on iPhone.
You can now create custom workouts by tapping the three dots before you start an activity, to set custom distance and time goals that may be better suited to your training schedule. You will also see a new feature called Pacer. This lets you choose a desired distance and arrival time, then the watch will give you the pace you need to reach that goal and alert you along the way if you’re above or below that pace.
Improved dictation and app adjustments
I’m a big user of the Apple Watch’s dictation tool for texting because it automatically converts my voice to text. Now, WatchOS 9 goes even further by automatically inserting punctuation into your sentences as you speak. Rejoice! No more saying “period” and “comma” or the annoying “question mark” to manually add your punctuation. This should be enabled by default, but if not, go to Settings > General > Dictation and enable automatic punctuation.
Some of the native apps have also been tweaked in terms of usability, including the Calendar app which now lets you add events directly from the watch. You can also see a new weekly view. The Reminders app also lets you add and edit them from the watch, and the Podcasts app lets you search, track content, provide suggestions, and download episodes to the watch.
Your iPhone can now control and mirror your Apple Watch
Much like how Assistive Touch on WatchOS 8 lets you control the watch by moving the muscles in your hand and arm, Apple Watch Mirroring on WatchOS 9 is a game-changer when it comes to accessibility. It lets you mirror the Apple Watch to the iPhone, so you can control every aspect of the watch by touching the larger iPhone screen. It even lets you use the digital crown and side button.
On the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Apple Watch Mirroring. You will now see a small emulation of your Apple Watch live on the phone. You can even use iPhone-specific features like voice control and switch control if you can’t tap the screen.
These are just a few of my favorite new features in the WatchOS 9 public beta, but there are even more updates to explore, including AFib history, an improved sleep tracker that now shows sleep stages, as well as reminders to take your pills using the new Medicines app.