All the key information you need to know about the next major Apple Watch update, WatchOS 8, including a suspected release date and our wishlist of new features.
2021 is already heating up to be a big year for wearables. After announcing a new partnership with Samsung, the market lies in wait to see how Google’s new Wear OS platform stacks up and if it can finally turn the tide against Apple’s dominance in the smartwatch industry. As you can imagine, there’s a lot riding on watchOS 8 if Apple wants to hold on to the top spot.
Ahead of WWDC 2021, details have already started to leak about what Apple has in store for watchOS 8. While the lion’s share of information will no doubt stay hidden until WWDC officially kicks off, these leaks have given us an indication of where the future of the Apple Watch is headed, particularly with how the Apple Watch 7 might make use of the new software.
If you want to know more about other upcoming Apple projects/devices such as the MacBook Pro 2021 or iOS 15 then follow those links to see our dedicated hubs. For everything on watchOS 8, just keep reading on.
WatchOS 8 release date
While we don’t have a confirmed release date just yet, it’s very likely that watchOS 8 will debut in September alongside the release of the Apple Watch 7. Fans won’t have to wait too long to know more about the software update however, as we anticipate watchOS 8 to make its first appearance at WWDC 2021 on June 7.
As has been the case with previous watchOS updates, developer access is expected to open up almost immediately following a WWDC announcement.
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WatchOS 8 device support
Until an official announcement is given, we won’t know for sure which Apple Watch versions will be updated with watchOS 8, but we have a pretty good idea of which ones will be included. The Apple Watch 6, Apple Watch 5, Apple Watch 4 and Apple Watch SE are almost guaranteed to be coming along for the ride with the latest update – the only outlier is the Apple Watch 3.
Apple still sells its third generation wearable, having served the purpose of being an affordable alternative to the more pricier flagships to have come out since. The problem is that the Apple Watch SE now fits that role perfectly, so this might finally be the year that the Apple Watch 3 is left to retire gracefully, before it becomes too difficult to include in updates. However, considering it’s still being sold there’s every chance the support will continue.
WatchOS 8 features wishlist
With precious time to go until the start of WWDC 2021, developer Khaos Tian managed to spot several new updates in the back-end of the App Store. Within the App store’s code, they’ve highlighted the excerpts “com.apple.NanoTips” and “com.Apple.NanoContacts”, which indicate the imminent arrival of both a dedicated Contacts and Tips app for Apple Watch.
Particularly in the case of an optimised Contacts app, Apple could be planning for more users to venture out into the world with nothing more than their Apple Watch. Such a pivot would indicate a potential leap forward in battery life for the Apple Watch 7. Given that all current Apple Watch models need to be charged daily for proper use, a larger battery is the only way to convince users that they can safely leave their phone at home.
Tian has also spotted something entirely new, listed as “com.apple.Mind”, which could be an in-house mindfulness app. At present, the Apple Watch utilises the Breathe app to inspire mindful breathing exercises, but having a more robust app with meditation sessions would be a huge leap in maintaining good mental health practices. Given the push into fitness programming with Apple Fitness Plus, branching out into mindfulness feels like the natural next step for Apple.
Ahead of watchOS 8’s official reveal, here are some features that we’d like to see as part of the next major Apple Watch update:
- Personalised sleep tracking results: Sleep tracking on Apple Watch is great, but the feature currently directs you to other sleep tracking apps if you want more personalised advice on how to improve your circadian rhythm. I would love to see Apple cut out the middle man here and give you tailor-made advice right there in the health app, particularly as cheaper wearables have already begun to offer this service.
- Modified App store: I understand that the App Store on Apple Watch has been designed with simplicity in mind, but it’s so stripped back that I end up searching for apps on my phone instead. At the very least, it would be helpful to have the category search function brought over to Apple Watch.
- Inject some colour: Apple seems to be going through a colourful revolution right now, evident with the gorgeous iMac 2021 and the abundance of eye-popping iPhone widgets. By comparison, the dark, empty spaces of the Apple Watch app tray and menu feel like a relic from an older time – I say it’s time to spruce things up with some dynamic backgrounds.
When we have concrete information regarding the features that will be implemented in watchOS 8, this section will be updated accordingly.
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