WatchOS 9, slated for release this fall, has some new features you’ll want to try out. Most of these features are fitness-related, such as a new multisport mode for triathletes, the ability to track heart rate zones and improved swim tracking. It also has new accessibility features and improved sleep tracking. Here’s everything worth looking forward to with watchOS 9.
If you keep forgetting to take your medicines on time, you can set reminders with watchOS 9. You can also use this feature to keep track of vitamins or other health supplements you take. Apple says people in the US may receive warnings about critical drug interactions, such as avoiding alcohol while on a course of specific drugs.
AFib tracking improvements
The Apple Watch can already track cases of atrial fibrillation (AFib), but watchOS 9 gives you more insight into the situation. If you’ve been diagnosed with AFib, watchOS 9 adds a feature that tells you how often your heart rhythm shows signs of AFib. The ability to track your AFib history is also new to the Apple Watch, and the company says it’s FDA-approved for people aged 22 or older in the US who have been diagnosed with AFib.
New stats for running forms
Even experienced runners tend to lose running form towards the end of longer runs. Fatigue or a lack of adequate strength training can deteriorate your form, leading to injuries. With WatchOS 9, you can keep an eye on some metrics about running shapes, such as stride length, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation.
You can customize your Apple Watch’s workout views to add these stats or track them from the Fitness app on your iPhone.
An Improved Workout App
The Workout app on your Apple Watch gets some improvements in watchOS 9. It allows you to create custom workouts to add work and rest intervals to your workout regimen. If you’re working on building speed for your marathons, you can use modified training to run for five minutes, rest for two, and repeat.
Apart from this, the Workout app lets you track the intensity of workouts using heart rate zones, cadence, and a dynamic pace tracker that alerts you when you’re too fast or too slow on your workout runs.
For those who like to take on running challenges, but are not inclined to share their workouts with everyone, watchOS 9 has a feature that allows you to race yourself on routes you visit often. When you return to a route you recently walked, your watch asks if you want to try to beat your time. You can take on the challenge and enter into a healthy competition with yourself.
Control the intensity of your runs
If you’re trying to train your body to run at a higher intensity, you may want to use a watchOS 9 metric called Running Power. It measures the intensity of your runs and helps you find a sustainable way to complete them.
Multisport mode for triathletes
The Apple Watch gets a multisport mode aimed at triathletes that allows you to track different types of workouts — running, swimming, and cycling — without repeatedly switching between workout modes. While this is a good thing to have, the Apple Watch’s battery life is still a limitation for endurance athletes, such as those who participate in the Ironman triathlon†
Improved swim tracking
For pool workouts, Apple added kickboard detection to watchOS 9. If you swim with a kickboard, your watch can detect it and add the correct stroke type. With the upcoming version of watchOS, you can also SWOLF Scorewhich measures swimming efficiency.
Improved Sleep Data
Sleep tracking data is also improved on your Apple Watch – it can show how long you slept, when you woke up, and how much time you spent in the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep phase. You can get the most out of your sleep data by checking sleep trends in the Health app on your iPhone. With watchOS 9, this data shows your respiratory rate and heart rate in addition to sleep data.
WatchOS 9 makes some upgrades to accessibility features on the Apple Watch. It allows you to use the double pinch gesture to start a workout or take a photo. Those with physical or motor disabilities will also be able to stream their Apple Watch to their iPhones and control the wearable using the iPhone’s suite of accessibility features.
A productivity boost
Finally, watchOS 9 will bring some small but significant productivity improvements to your Apple Watch. The dock, which can be accessed by pressing the side button, prioritizes apps running in the background. This makes it easy to access apps you actually use.
You can schedule calendar events right from the watch, and notifications don’t take over the entire screen when you’re using the wearable. The watch’s keyboard also gains support for additional languages, including French and Spanish.