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watchOS 9 brings numerous new possibilities to the Apple Watch

Apple gave a preview of watchOS 9 at WWDC 2022. The firmware brings new features to the Apple Watch and allows personalizing the user interface even more. Overall, the innovations are very extensive.

WatchOS 9 will be officially unveiled in September, together with the presentation of the iPhone 14 and iOS 16. Apple will use the time until then to further optimize the smartwatch firmware. However, the announced innovations already show that it is a major update for the Apple Watch. In the future, users will not only be able to train more efficiently and track their sleep, Apple has also integrated a way to log atrial fibrillation.

“This fall, watchOS 9 takes the Apple Watch to a whole new level with scientifically proven fitness, sleep and heart health insights. At the same time, users get even more creative ways to personalize their Apple Watch,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, about the update. atechbook highlights what’s new in watchOS 9.

Workout app now shows how efficiently users are exercising

Effective training is very important for many athletes – whether they see it as a hobby or are professional athletes. For them, Apple has optimized the training app in watchOS 9. It now shows important measurements for different training styles. This also includes heart rate zones, which provide information about how efficient a workout is. The Apple Watch calculates the values based on the measurements via the various sensors and stored data.

The new watchOS 9 also focuses more on interval training. Apple has introduced workouts that allow users to create structured workouts including load and rest intervals.

Better tracking of (combined) sports

Smartwatches recognize movements, but not all of them are able to distinguish between running and cycling or swimming or are optimized for these sports. This is where Apple comes in and introduces new combo sports with watchOS 9, for example for triathletes. The Apple Watch can then switch between swimming, cycling and running in any order and precisely track the respective training phases and later evaluate them via a diagram if desired. The sections of the workout are detected by the watch’s motion sensors.

Even those users who “only” run have new analysis options. Because with watchOS 9, the Apple Watch is able to determine data such as stride length, ground contact time and vertical oscillation. They can be viewed in the summary within the Health app after the workout.

When swimming, the Apple Watch automatically detects when users are using a swimming board – a training style in which the arms remain relatively still – thanks to Sensor Fusion after the update. The watch records the training success, including the distance covered in the pool, in the workout summary. The SWOLF measurement also comes with watchOS 9. It combines swimming strokes with the time in seconds needed for a lane length.

How does a smartwatch actually detect movements and body functions? Find out more in the video:

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Improved sleep tracking

In addition to movements, the Apple Watch also measures sleep. watchOS 9 is supposed to provide even more precise insights into how restful the sleep actually was – or was not. The Apple Watch uses the acceleration sensor and the heart rate sensor to detect the current sleep phase of the wearer and records the measurements together with additional values such as heart rate and breathing rate in a diagram. This makes it possible to view a precise analysis of sleep after waking up and optimize it if necessary.

Our colleagues from FITBOOK explain how sleep can be improved: 12 tips from the experts for better sleep.

Heart health with the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has a heart rate monitor and an ECG app with which users can already monitor their heart health. The readings can detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), for example, which can help prevent heart attacks early on. However, the decisive factor in these measurements is also how long the atrial fibrillation lasts. Until now, there was hardly any way to measure the duration over a longer period of time with a smartwatch. But with watchOS 9, users who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation can activate the FDA-approved “Atrial Fibrillation History Function.” This allows them to record even better when the heart rhythm is irregular and how long these phases last. The data collected in this way can be compiled in PDF format and printed out for the doctor.

The function is designed specifically for sufferers aged 22 and over in the USA. It remains to be seen whether and in what way the “atrial fibrillation history function” will also be available in Germany.

More new features in watchOS 9

There are numerous other new features in the Apple Watch update that relate to health. These include, for example, the ability to monitor medications. The intake of all tablets, dietary supplements or other medications can be entered in a calendar. Here, users also have a reminder function that alerts them to the upcoming intake.

Also new is the Cardio Recovery feature, which provides cardio recovery estimates for the walking outdoor, running and hiking workouts. watchOS 9 also brings new watch faces, redesigned notifications that are meant to be less distracting, new quick actions and numerous updated apps.

These Apple Watch models will receive watchOS 9.

Apple states that the watchOS 9 update is available for the Apple Watch 3 and all newer models. The prerequisite is that users use their smartwatch in combination with an iPhone running the new iOS 16. That means they have to own at least an iPhone 8 to be able to use all the new features of watchOS 9.

The beta version of the firmware can already be tested now. To do so, users have to participate in the Apple Developer Program. The pre-release version for testing is available for download at developer.apple.com.

Topics

  • Smartwatches
  • Wearables