We’re nearing the reveal of watchOS 8, the Apple Watch’s next big software overhaul. The annual refresh will likely introduce a slew of new features, upgrading the experience of owning one of the best smartwatches around.
Like clockwork, Apple shows off its latest watchOS during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June. This year watchOS 8 will be revealed alongside iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 at the virtual event, scheduled to start on June 7.
Of course, watchOS 8 will be compatible with the Apple Watch 6, Apple Watch SE and select previous-generation models. But presuming the software is shipping on the upcoming Apple Watch 7, the watchOS 8 unveil is a major teaser for what the next year of wearable computing will look like.
Here’s everything we know about watchOS 8 so far, and what we hope the refreshed system will bring to the Apple Watch.
watchOS 8: Release date and compatibility
The official watchOS 8 release date, or date the software is available for download, won’t be known until the next Apple Watch event. In the past, Apple announced the availability of its new smartwatch software at the same time it announced its new smartwatch.
Before the final version of watchOS 8 rolls out, beta versions will be available for both developers and public testers. The first beta version could become available shortly after WWDC.
As for watchOS 8 compatibility, we don’t know yet whether Apple will offer update support to the Apple Watch 3. Although the company has continued to sell the 3-year-old Apple Watch, it could limit watchOS 8 compatibility to the Apple Watch 4 and newer.
Either way, watchOS 8 will be free to install. Apple doesn’t charge for software updates.
watchOS 8: Features and leaks
We haven’t seen any credible watchOS 8 leaks so far, which isn’t unusual. That said, for watchOS 7, we saw a few features leak ahead of the software’s reveal. The same could happen for watchOS 8 in the coming weeks.
That said, there are a handful of likely upgrades we can predict. First, expect improvements and additions to the workout app. The company’s latest fitness initiatives include Time to Walk for Apple Watch and the Apple Fitness Plus subscription exercise class service. We’re confident more tools for getting in shape are on the way, whether it be support for more workout types (last year watchOS 7 added Dance) or different ways to record exercise.
You can also bet that Apple will add a new native app to your wrist, likely one that’s already on the iPhone. It could be health-and-fitness related, or it could offer more productivity abilities for Apple Watch.
Lastly, it’s safe to assume Apple will show off new watchOS 8 watch faces.
watchOS 8 wish list: What we want to see
Health app: If there’s one app currently missing from the Apple Watch experience, it’s the Health app. The Health app on your iPhone acts as a dashboard for all your wellness data, from your sleep metics and daily workout progress to noise notifications and symptom tracking. Since a sizable chunk of this information is gathered from your Apple Watch, it would make sense for a similar dashboard to be available on your wrist.
Notes app: Besides the Health app, the app we’d really like to see on the Apple Watch is a native Notes program. Ideally, the Apple Watch Notes app would sync via iCloud with the Notes app on your iPhone. Whether you need to remember your shopping items, create a to-do list or jot down a creative idea, having a Notes app would let you do so without needing your iPhone. Similarly, you could reference your notes you wrote on your iPhone from your wrist.
Keyboard: One drawback of a Notes app for Apple Watch is the smartwatch’s lack of keyboard. That’s why Apple should introduce a built-in keyboard in watchOS 8. Currently there are third-party keyboard apps you can install via the Apple Watch App Store, so it’s reasonable to believe Apple can launch a version of its own. It could even copy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3’s T9 keyboard, which is easier to use than Scribble, in our opinion.
Mental health tools: When the Fitbit Sense launched with several stress management tools, we hoped Apple would follow up with similar features for Apple Watch 6. It didn’t. Apple may hold a steady lead in life-saving features, but mental health tools are life-saving in their own right. Last year, two top leakers confirmed Apple is working on on way for your smartwatch to warn you about panic attacks and heightened stress. We could finally seem them come to fruition with watchOS 8.
Bookmark this page for the latest watchOS 8 leaks and news leading up to WWDC 2021, which kicks off June 7.