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Apple’s watchOS 9 and its new features, including a medications app

By Jessie Chiang
Tue 7 Jun 2022

The new watch0S 9 gives users more watch faces, an updated workout app with advanced metrics, views and training experiences, sleep stages in the sleep app and a brand new medications app.

Apple's chief operating officer Jeff Williams says users worldwide love Apple Watch to help them stay connected to those they love, be more active throughout the day and better manage their health.

"Later this year, watchOS 9 takes the Apple Watch experience to the next level with scientifically validated insights across fitness, sleep and heart health, while providing users more creative ways to make their Apple Watch their own," he says.

Watch faces for all

Apple says watchOS 9 introduces four new faces: 

  • Lunar, which depicts the relationship between the Gregorian calendar and lunar calendar, used in many cultures such as Chinese, Islamic and Hebrew
  • Playtime, a dynamic piece of art that's unique to Apple Watch and created in collaboration with artist Joi Fulton
  • Metropolitan, a classic, type-driven watch face where the style changes as the Digital Crown is rotated
  • Astronomy, an original face that has been completely remastered and features a new star map and current cloud data.

The company says watchOS 9 introduces enhanced and modernised complications on some of the most classic watch faces, such as Utility, Simple and Activity Analog, along with background colour editing for Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large for additional personalisation. 

It says the new portraits face showcases the depth effect on more photos, including cats, dogs and landscapes, while Chinese scripts have been added as options for California and Typograph watch faces. In addition, focus now allows users to select an Apple Watch face to automatically appear when they start a specific focus on iPhone, such as the photo's face during a personal focus, helping users stay in the moment.

Workout app updates

Apple says the familiar in-session display now uses the digital crown to rotate between easy-to-read workout views so that users can see important metrics for different training styles. It says heart rate zones, which can be manually created or automatically calculated using personalised health data, can be used to monitor the intensity of a workout. 

The company says the workout app also introduces custom workouts, which can be used to create a structured workout with work and rest intervals. In addition, new alerts, including pace, power, heart rate and cadence, can be added to guide users throughout the exercise.

Apple says the workout app now supports a new multisport workout type for triathletes that automatically switches between swimming, biking and running, using motion sensors to recognise movement patterns. When each workout is complete, a redesigned summary page in the fitness app offers additional details with interactive charts for more precise analysis.

For runners, Apple says the watchOS 9 includes new metrics such as stride length, ground contact time and vertical oscillation. Users can also choose to race against their best or last result on frequently used routes and receive alerts during the workout for being ahead or behind their pace, as well as when going off route. 

Additionally, a new pacer experience lets users choose a distance and goal for the time they want to complete a run and calculates the pace required to achieve the goal. During the workout, they can follow the pace alerts and metrics provided.

For swimmers, Apple says kickboard detection has been added as a new stroke type for pool swim workouts. It says swimmers can now track their efficiency with a SWOLF score a stroke count combined with the time, in seconds, it takes to swim one length of the pool. 

The company says with watchOS 9, Apple Fitness+ workouts now display on-screen guidance in addition to trainer coaching to help users get the most out of workouts, including: 

  • Intensity for HIIT
  • Cycling, Revolutions per Minute (RPM)
  • Rowing, Strokes per Minute (SPM)
  • Treadmill, incline for walkers and runners

Apple says Fitness+ subscribers without Apple TV can now use AirPlay to stream workouts and meditations with on-screen metrics to compatible third-party TVs and devices, allowing them to train anywhere.

Sleep Insights

Apple says sleep tracking in watchOS 9 provides even more insights with the introduction of sleep stages. Using signals from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor, Apple Watch can detect when users are in REM, Core or Deep sleep. 

The company says users will see sleep stage data on Apple Watch in the Sleep app. This gives more detailed information, like time asleep, alongside additional metrics, like heart rate and respiratory rate, in sleep comparison charts in the Health app on iPhone.

Apple says the machine learning models were trained and validated against the clinical gold standard, polysomnography, with one of the largest and most diverse populations ever studied for a wearable. 

Medications

The new medications app on Apple Watch and iPhone helps users manage and track their medications, vitamins and supplements, allowing them to create a medications list, and set up schedules and reminders in the health app. The medications app on Apple Watch makes it easy for users to conveniently and discreetly track medications anytime, anywhere.

The company says users can create custom schedules for each medication and set up reminders to help keep them on track. 

Apple says privacy is fundamental in the design and development across all of Apple's features. When a user's iPhone is locked with a passcode, Touch ID or Face ID, all of their health and fitness data in the health app other than Medical ID is encrypted. Any health data backed up to iCloud is encrypted both in transit and on Apple servers.

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