The Best New Features in watchOS 9

The Best New Features in watchOS 9
Photo: KANUT PHOTO, Shutterstock

WatchOS 9, scheduled to release this fall, has a bunch of new features you’ll want to check out. A majority of these features are fitness-related, such as a new multisport mode for triathletes, the ability to track heart rate zones, and enhanced swim tracking. It also has new accessibility features and improved sleep tracking. Here’s everything worth looking forward to with watchOS 9.

Medication reminders

If you keep forgetting to take your medication on time, you can set up reminders with watchOS 9. You can also use this feature to track vitamins or other health supplements you take. Apple says people in the U.S. can receive alerts about critical interactions with certain medicines, such as avoiding alcohol during a course of a specific medications.

AFib tracking enhancements

The Apple Watch can already track instances of atrial fibrillation (AFib), but with watchOS 9, you’ll gain more insights into the condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with AFib, watchOS 9 adds a feature that tells you how frequently 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 is FDA-cleared for people ages 22 or older in the U.S. who’ve been diagnosed with AFib.

New running form metrics

Screenshot: AppleScreenshot: Apple

Even experienced runners tend to lose their running form toward the end of longer runs. Fatigue or a lack of adequate strength training can worsen your form, which can lead to injuries. WatchOS 9 allows you to keep an eye on some running form metrics, such as Stride Length, Ground Contact Time, and Vertical Oscillation.

You can customise your Apple Watch’s workout views to add these metrics or track these from the Fitness app on your iPhone.

An upgraded Workout app

The Workout app on your Apple Watch will be getting some enhancements in watchOS 9. It’ll allow you to create custom workouts to add work and rest intervals into your exercise regimen. If you’re working on building speed for your marathons, you could use a custom workout to run hard for five minutes, rest for two, and repeat.

Apart from this, the Workout app will let 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 during your training runs.

Race yourself

For those who like to take up running challenges, but aren’t inclined to share their workouts with everyone, watchOS 9 has a feature that allows you to race yourself on routes you frequent. If you return to a route you’ve run recently, your watch will ask if you want to try to improve your time. You can accept the challenge and have some healthy competition with yourself.

Check the intensity of your runs

When you’re trying to train your body to run at a higher intensity, you might 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

Screenshot: AppleScreenshot: Apple

The Apple Watch will gain a multisport mode targeted at triathletes that lets you track different types of workouts — running, swimming, and cycling — without repeatedly switching between workout modes. While this is good to have, the Apple Watch’s battery life is still a limitation for endurance athletes, such as those who participate in the Ironman triathlon.

Enhanced swim tracking

For pool swimming workouts, Apple has added kickboard detection to watchOS 9. If you swim with a kickboard, your watch will be able to detect it and add the correct stroke type. The upcoming version of watchOS also allows you to track your SWOLF score, which measures swimming efficiency.

Improved sleep data

Sleep tracking data will also be improved on your Apple Watch — it will be able to show how long you were asleep, when you woke up, and how much time you spent in the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage. You can get the most out of your sleep data by checking sleep trends on the Health app on your iPhone. With watchOS 9, this data will show your respiratory rate and heart rate alongside sleep data.

Accessibility upgrades

WatchOS 9 makes some upgrades to accessibility features on the Apple Watch. It’ll allow you to use the double-pinch gesture to start a workout or to 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

Screenshot: AppleScreenshot: Apple

Finally, watchOS 9 will bring some small but significant productivity enhancements to your Apple Watch. The dock, which can be opened by pressing the side button, will prioritise apps running in the background. This will make it easy to access apps you actually are using.

You will be able to create calendar events directly from the watch, and notifications won’t take over the entire screen when you’re using the wearable. The watch’s keyboard will also gain support for additional languages, including French and Spanish.

 

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