When Apple’s WWDC event comes up, it typically signals a raft of modifications to its diverse operating systems. As expected, this encompasses changes to iOS, macOS, and iPadOS. Additionally, it implies that innovative features are being planned for the Apple Watch and watchOS.
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While the iPhone, iPad, and Mac saw a few older models drop off the compatibility list, the same can’t be said for the Apple Watch. Surprisingly, Apple is bringing its latest wearable software to all of the same models that were compatible with the release of watchOS 9.
- Apple Watch Series 4
- Apple Watch Series 5
- Apple Watch SE (1st and 2nd gen)
- Apple Watch Series 6
- Apple Watch Series 7
- Apple Watch Series 8
- Apple Watch Ultra
Apple had to go back to the drawing board when it came to how you can use and interact with apps on the Apple Watch with watchOS 10. While there are plenty of great apps available for the Apple Watch, many of them don’t take full advantage of the screen real estate on your wrist.
With watchOS 10, all of this is changing, as apps now provide more glanceable information, along with new ways to interact with your Apple Watch. For instance, you can access Control Center just by pressing the Side Button. And if you’re wondering what happened to your Recently Used app drawer, just double-click the Digital Crown. Plus, the App Drawer has been slightly tweaked to provide a more enjoyable experience.
Without a doubt, the defining feature of watchOS 10 is the addition of widgets and the Smart Stack. All you need to do is rotate the Digital Crown in order to reveal any of the widgets found in the Smart Stack.
Much like using Smart Stacks on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll see the most important widgets based on what you’re doing and the time. And there’s even a Smart Stack widget available to quickly access commonly-used apps such as Fitness, Messages, and others.
Considering how much focus has been putting forth when it comes to improving health and fitness tracking on the Apple Watch, watchOS 10 seems to be a on the “lighter” side of things. The biggest update to workouts comes to those who enjoy cycling, as you’ll now have your workout appear as a Live Activity.
Within Workout Views, you’ll see sections for Heart Rate Zones, Elevation, Race Route, and Cycling Speed. Apple has also made it possible for your Apple Watch to be connected with Bluetooth-enabled cycling accessories, complete with support for Indoor and Outdoor cycling workouts.
Hiking was the other Workout that received a major update as the built-in Compass app “automatically generates two new waypoints.” The first of which is Last Cellular Connection Waypoint, which estimates the last place with cellular reception. The second is Last Emergency Call Waypoint which estimates “where on the route their device had the last connection to any available carrier’s network so that an emergency call can be made.”
Additionally, you’ll be able to enjoy the new Elevation view which uses altimeter data to provide a “three-dimensional view of saved waypoints.” Going even further, the Apple Maps app on your Watch will show a topographic map of your current location, complete with “contour lines, hill shading, elevation details, and points of interest.”
On the iOS side of things, Apple seems to be taking mental health very seriously with the new Journal app. But on the Apple Watch, the Mindfulness app has been updated allowing users to “conveniently log their momentary emotions and daily moods”. There are a variety of pre-populated prompts available to describe how you are feeling, “select what is having the biggest impact on them, and describe their feelings.”
And thanks to the updated Health app, all of this information and insights can be viewed from either your iPhone or iPad. This will help you identify potential patterns, along with being able to share how you’re feeling with a healthcare professional.
watchOS 10: More Upcoming Features
Apple took a lot of time to explain a lot of the important changes and features coming to watchOS 10 during the WWDC ’23 Keynote. However, there wasn’t enough time to cover everything, so here are some of the other key changes that you’ll find when watchOS 10 comes to your Apple Watch.
Vision Health: With watchOS 10, Apple Watch introduces the ability to measure time spent in daylight using the ambient light sensor. Users can view this information in the Health app on iPhone or iPad.
NameDrop allows users to easily share contact information by bringing Apple Watch close to someone else’s iPhone. Apple Watch users can also use NameDrop by tapping the Share button in My Card in the Contacts app, or by tapping the My Card watch face complication, and then bringing Apple Watch face to face with someone else’s Apple Watch.
Apple Fitness+ introduces Custom Plans, a new way to receive a custom workout or meditation schedule based on day, duration, workout type, and more; Stacks, which allows users to select multiple workouts and meditations to do seamlessly back to back; and Audio Focus, which gives users the ability to prioritize the volume of the music or the trainers’ voices.
More powerful motion sensors in Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8 can detect rapid changes in direction and acceleration, enabling developers to create new experiences for sports like golf and tennis. And popular training platforms like TrainingPeaks can now import your scheduled workouts directly into the Workout app.
Apple Watch offers enterprise customers features to enhance productivity, including hands-free communication and the opportunity to respond to notifications on the go.
Offline maps on iPhone provide access to turn-by-turn navigation, estimated time of arrival, places in Maps, and more while away from Wi-Fi or cellular services. These features can also be used on a paired Apple Watch that is in range of its companion iPhone.
If someone leaves you a recorded video message on FaceTime, you can view it directly on your Apple Watch. And Group FaceTime audio calls are now supported.
To help you stay on track, you can choose to receive a follow-up reminder if you haven’t logged a scheduled medication, vitamin, or supplement. And you can set these reminders as critical alerts.
watchOS 10: When Is It Coming?
Apple is just getting started with the latest version of watchOS. The first Developer Beta is available for developers starting now, with a Public Beta program set to open sometime in July. We’ll continue seeing iterations made to the platform over the next few months, before watchOS 10 is released for everyone this Fall.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.