Apple has just unveiled WatchOS 10, its next major operating system update for the Apple Watch. The announcement came during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. As with previous updates, health, fitness and customization are among the biggest themes in WatchOS 10.
Apple is updating the Apple Watch software with new widgets and redesigned apps to show more information at a glance. The widgets will be able to display contextual information throughout the day, such as medication reminders or calendar alerts, similar to how they function on the iPhone. This should make it easier to get bits of information without having to launch a full application.
The Apple Watch also gets two new watch faces: one with a colorful palette and the other featuring Peanuts characters Snoopy and Woodstock.
There will also be more cycling training metrics and views, including the ability to display additional stats when connected to other Bluetooth bike sensors. Apple is adding new benefits for hikers as well, such as the ability for the Compass app to show the last area you had cell reception and more detail on the topography of hiking trails.
Health is also a focus for WatchOS 10. Apple is adding new mood-logging features to the Mindfulness app, which you can access on both the watch and phone. Apple also says you’ll be able to take standardized assessments often used in clinics to learn more about how you’re feeling.
Apple is also using the Apple Watch to help users monitor eye health, signaling a new type of health measurement for the watch. The Apple Watch’s ambient light sensor can be used to measure time spent in daylight in WatchOS 10, which the company is positioning as a way to maintain eye health and potentially prevent myopia, or myopia, caused by physical changes in the eye.
Software updates like these are crucial because they bring significant new features to Apple’s smartwatch that expand its functionality without requiring new hardware. Last year in WatchOS 9, for example, Apple introduced new current metrics, the ability to track specific sleep stages, and a low-power mode. These additions have helped the Apple Watch catch up with other sleep-tracking wearables and dedicated running watches.
With WatchOS 10, Apple is also the latest smartwatch maker to focus more closely on mental health. Fitbit, for example, has added sensors to its Sense smartwatches that can look for signs of stress throughout the day. Watchmaker Citizen released a new smartwatch this year that it says can assess fatigue and alertness levels. The new Mindfulness features in WatchOS 10 suggest that Apple is also thinking more deeply about the connection between physical and mental health.
Apple typically previews new software for core products like the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and Mac at its annual conference before debuting them in the fall.
The Apple Watch is the most popular smartwatch in the world with 26% of the global market by the first quarter of 2023, according to Counterpoint Research. Over the past few years, Apple has introduced new features and hardware designed to make its watch more competitive with dedicated running watches from companies like Garmin. Last year, for example, saw the debut of the Apple Watch Ultra, the first rugged watch designed with athletes and adventurers in mind. The hiking and cycling updates seem to fit this theme well.