Apple’s WatchOS 8 Update Includes a Range of New Health Features

Apple’s WatchOS 8 Update Includes a Range of New Health Features
Image: Apple

Apple’s WWDC conference went live this morning and a slew of new features for our Apple devices have been revealed.

Being a developer conference the focus isn’t so much on new hardware but instead new software. Major updates for the operating systems on iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac and more were unveiled today.

The Apple Watch has shifted to a focus on health and fitness in recent interactions and that trend is continuing with watchOS 8. These are some of the great new health and design updates that are coming to the Apple Watch.

What’s new in watchOS 8?

Mindfulness

The Breathe app is being redesigned as the Mindfulness app which will now provide two experiences.

Apple Watch owners are already familiar with the ‘breathe’ experience which prompts you to take a minute out of your day to take some deep breaths. A new ‘Reflect’ experience will be added to the mindfulness app which allows users to focus on a mindful intention for one minute.

apple watch os8 mindfulness
Screenshot: Apple

Prompts include things like “recall a time when you felt a sense of calm” or “reflect on one thing you’re grateful for and think about why you appreciate it.”

The Mindfulness app also introduces some revamped calming animations.

Respiratory rate

WatchOS 8 will implement a new sleep tracking feature for respiratory rate. This calculates the number of breaths taken per minute while a user is asleep.

The Apple Watch uses its built-in accelerometer to track your breathing while you sleep which is then viewable in the iPhone’s Health app.

apple watch
Screenshot: Apple

If there’s a change in your respiratory rate your iPhone will alert you with a notification in case you want to investigate it further.

Fitness workouts

Tai Chi and Pilates are two new workout types that will be integrated into watchOS 8.

A new series of workouts will also be coming to Fitness+ with Jeanette Jenkins and the app will soon offer a picture in picture mode. Fitness+ will also introduce new filters and the ability to resume in-progress workouts on different devices.

Other new features

Along with a series of health features, the Apple Watch is also getting some smaller quality of life updates.

This includes a redesigned home app, new photo features and a new portrait mode for watch faces.

apple watch os
Screenshot: Apple

There are also new Scribble, dictation and emoji tools in the Apple Watch’s messages app. Plus the new focus notifications feature available on iOS 15 will apply to Apple Watch so if you set a Focus on your iPhone it will automatically apply to your watch as well. You can learn more about Focus and iOS 15 here.

Other small updates include the ability to set multiple timers, accessibility updates, a new Find items app for Watch, more app support for Always-On displays and upgraded Music and Weather apps.

Unfortunately, these updates won’t be publicly available until later in the year but you can look into downloading the public beta now.

Just remember, it’s mighty difficult to update older Apple Watches now so consider that before you start on this journey.

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