watchOS 9 can be downloaded for free via the Apple Watch app on iPhone by opening it and going to General> Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch must have at least 50 percent battery, must be placed on a charger, and must be within range of iPhone.
Apple has added four new watch faces in watchOS 9. Lunar shows the relationship between the Gregorian calendar and the lunar calends, while Playtime offers animated and personified numbers created in collaboration with artist Joi Fulton. Metropolitan is a classic type-based watch face and Astronomy is a revamped version of the original astronomical watch face with a remastered design and a new star map and cloud data.
Apple has updated several existing watch faces with a more modern look and added new complications, plus focus modes can now be associated with a specific watch face. Sleep tracking in watchOS 9 now includes sleep stages, allowing users to detect when users are in REM, Core or Deep Sleep mode.
A new Medicines app on Apple Watch is designed to help users manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements. The app keeps a list of medications, sends reminders when it’s time to take them, and watches for drug interactions (US only).
For the Training app, there is a new option to create custom workouts that can include work and rest intervals, you can create heart rate zones to track the intensity of a workout, and there are new alerts for pace, power, frequency heart rate and cadence which can guide users through workouts.
Swimmers, runners and triathletes have new activity options that take into account the new metrics, and Fitness + users who don’t have an Apple TV can use AirPlay to stream workouts and meditations to compatible third-party TVs for use without an Apple TV.
The ECG app’s atrial fibrillation (AFib) alerts have been updated, with the addition of a new AFib History feature from Apple. Patients with atrial fibrillation can turn on the atrial fibrillation history to track the atrial fibrillation rate for a deeper insight into their heart condition which can also be shared with medical professionals.
Apple has redesigned notifications on the Apple Watch to feature thin banners that are less interrupted when the watch is in use, and Family Setup now supports the Home app so kids can control smart home accessories from their wrists. Quick Actions on Apple Watch allow users to do more with a double gesture, including answer / end phone calls, play / pause media, and start or pause a workout.
Apple’s release notes for the update are below:
watchOS 9 offers great new ways to keep yourself active, healthy and connected with Apple Watch. You have more ways to train and measure your workouts, a completely redesigned compass app, a new app to track your medications, more powerful sleep tracking with sleep stages, and better information and support for your heart health if you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.
Look at the faces
– Astronomy now displays the current cloud cover and star map
– Lunar includes a Chinese, Jewish or Islamic lunar calendar wrapped around a moon with a live representation of the moon phases
– Playtime includes animated numbers designed by Chicago artist Joi -Fulton with editing options for background colors
– Metropolitan features a type-based dial with numerals that dynamically change in style and weight as you turn the digital crown
– Nike Analog, Nike Bounce, Nike Compact, Nike Digital and Nike Hybrid, all with a touchable Nike Swoosh launching Nike Run Club, are now available for more Apple Watch models
– Rich complications, Chinese script options and background color editor available on Breathe, California, Modular, Typograph and more
– Portraits now supports cat and dog portraits and landscapes with the ability to customize the background color or the entire photo
– Ability to choose the quadrant displayed when a Focus is active
– Ability to customize and scroll through multiple training views during a workout, including splits, segments, activity rings and more
– The heart rate zone view uses your maximum and resting heart rates to create custom zones and shows the time spent in each zone
– Elevation view shows your current altitude and elevation gain and visually maps your altitude progress during outdoor running, outdoor biking, outdoor wheelchair gait, hiking, outdoor walking and outdoor wheelchair gait
– Running Power view, measured in watts, shows an instant measure of how much power is being generated while running (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and later)
– Running shape metrics, including stride length, ground contact time and vertical swing, available in training views to track and track your running efficiency trend (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and versions following)
– Custom workout allows you to create workouts with repeating sets of intervals that can be based on a time, distance, or open goal with automatic or manual advancement to the next set
– Pacer offers a training experience to help you maintain your desired pace using alerts and a dedicated training view
– Multisport training supports duathlon or triathlon training with automatic detection of Open Water / Pool Swim, Indoor / Outdoor Cycle, Indoor / Outdoor Run and transitions to the next leg
– Training alerts can be customized for parameters such as pace, power, cadence and heart rate zones
– Pool swim workouts automatically detect kickboard
– SWOLF swimming efficiency metric calculated as number of strokes plus time to complete the lap
– Coach guide displayed on the screen, including goals for Intensity, strokes per minute for rowing, revolutions per minute for cycling and incline percentage for the treadmill
– Coach guide and personal fitness metrics displayed on screen for compatible third-party TVs and devices
– Redesigned compass app with more in-depth information and zoomable views (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 5 and later)
– The main face supports both an analog compass dial and a digital view of the current bearing and heading
– The zoomed view provides an analog view of the bearing plus altitude, pitch and coordinates
– Compass waypoints allow you to mark your location or point of interest (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and later)
– Backtrack uses GPS to track your historical path in case of loss or disorientation (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and later)
– Sleep phase tracking using accelerometer and heart rate sensor data to track time spent in REM, Core and Deep Sleep, as well as awake
– The comparison chart provides a view of your heart rate and respiratory rate along with the time spent asleep in the Health app on iPhone
– Ability to record necessary and scheduled medications, including quantity and time taken
– Ability to view the drug schedule and what you have recorded for the day
– Reminder to record scheduled medications
– Medication complication to see your schedule or quickly open the app
– AFib history
– Weekly notifications with estimated percentage of time spent in atrial fibrillation during the previous calendar week
– Highlights show the day of the week and time AFib is highest
– Tracking lifestyle factors that can affect time spent on AFib, including exercise, sleep, weight, alcohol consumption, and awareness minutes in the Health app on iPhone
– Shareable PDF for richer conversations with healthcare professionals
– Support for users aged 22 and over diagnosed with atrial fibrillation
– The Podcast app is now available and includes the ability to search, download, follow programs and explore curated content
– Third party email support extended to Yahoo and Outlook
– Edit and share contact photos now available
– Extended quick actions with AssistiveTouch to play and pause in Now Playing, pause and resume in Workout, take a photo using the camera remote, and switch between map view and turn-by-turn directions in Maps
– Bluetooth keyboard pairing with Apple Watch
– Apple Watch Mirroring lets you control Apple Watch remotely from your paired iPhone via AirPlay with support for assistive technologies like Voice Control or Switch Control as an alternative to tapping the Apple Watch display
Other features and improvements:
– Power Saver mode maintains core Apple Watch features by temporarily disabling certain background features such as always-on display and heart health notifications to extend battery life
– Support for international roaming allows you to stay connected to your cellular network while traveling abroad (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 5 and later)
– Extended keyboard languages including French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish available on Apple Watch Series 7 and later
– Communication security setting in Screen Time gives parents the ability to activate alerts for children when they receive or attempt to send photos containing nudity in Messages
– Cycle deviation notifications alert you if your recorded menstrual cycles show a pattern of rare periods, irregular periods, prolonged periods, or persistent spotting
– New Apple Watch estimated Cardio Recovery metric available in Health app
– Reminder app updated to support editing so you can add key details like location, tags and expiration times
– Calendar app redesigned to support the creation of new calendar events with the ability to switch between day, list and week views
– Improved Podcast experience with search support, the ability to follow and unfollow shows, and discover new content in Listen Now
– Updated dock to show apps running in the background above
– Redesigned notifications with optimized slimline banner when actively using Apple Watch
Some features may not be available for all countries or areas, for more information visit:
For information on the security content of Apple software updates, visit this website:
More information on all the new features in watchOS 9 can be found in our dedicated watchOS 9 roundup.