Apple unveiled watchOS 10 at WWDC 2023, and it’s a big overhaul of its smartwatch operating system.
There are plenty of changes in this new version, which will be released in September 2023, usually alongside a new Apple Watch.
Let's get right into it – here's everything you need to know about watchOS 10.
First up, Apple announced ‘comprehensive app redesigns’ and a UI overhaul, with a focus on glanceable information.
Apple has now introduced widgets, which are displayed in a Smart Stack, which use machine learning to offer the most useful information at the right time.
The widgets are accessible from any watch by turning the Digital Crown.
Widgets can then be cycled through, and many feature live information. A demo shown at the event showed a timer being set. That timer then appeared as a widget, and naturally, it was the first in the Smart Stack, due to displaying the most pertinent information.
New design language
The UI has also changed with an app design overhaul. The new language offers more contextual information, as well as a sleek new look.
Apple showed off a couple of apps that have got the new treatment, with World Clock (above) making it more obvious what the time difference is with other countries.
The biggest overhaul was the Activity app, which had icons placed in the corner of the screen, and the Digital Crown enables users to scroll through larger, dedicated screens for each of the activity metrics.
New watch faces
It was a quiet WWDC for Apple watch faces, with just two new additions to the line-up in watchOS 10.
The Palette watch face is another classy-looking animated watch face with changing colors.
And there’s a new Snoopy and Woodstock watch faces, a callback to Mickey/Minnie face on the original watchOS. The weather-reactive animations and other live features do look really cool – and we’re sure this will be a popular option.
New cycling powers
Cycling got a massive update in watchOS 10, with support for Bluetooth-enabled cycling sensors.
You can use sensors to enable FTP-powered workouts, with a focus on power zones, which will open the Apple Watch up to a new audience of prosumer cyclists and enthusiasts.
The Apple Watch will also sync to iPhone to show a range of metrics full screen, as soon as you start a cycling workout.
That means you can see data such as speed, distance, time, and those other readouts, such as power, power zone and cadence, which turns your iPhone into a full-on cycle computer.
After the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra last year, it seemed likely that Apple would try and make it an even more powerful outdoors companion. And we got that in watchOS 10.
The compass app has two cool new features.
First, it will keep tabs on your cellular signal, and drop a compass waypoint for your last known location when your phone was connected to the network. If you need to make a call, you can navigate your way back to that point. It will also show the nearest location for an SOS call, which can be made on any cell network.
The compass app also now shows a very nifty elevation mode, tilting into a 3D mode, which shows the topography of your route gathered from the built-in altimeter.
Speaking of topography, Maps will also now show TOPO maps including waypoints and places of interest. These apps are also searchable and you can navigate from the watch – but it’s US-only for now.
What’s more, the new Maps will also show popular trails, and you can plan routes based on length and elevation.
This one is a developer-focused announcement, but Apple is opening up APIs for developers of workout apps.
It showed a demo of the third-party GolfShot app using the advanced accelerometers and gyroscopes, developed for car crash detection, to track wrist movement through the golf swing, studying hand position and swing speed.
And the TrainingPeaks app will enable users to create training plans, which can be accessed straight from the Apple Watch Workout app.
We're sure there will be scores of these once the wider development community get their hands on the API. And it's one of the most exciting aspects of watchOS 10.
Apple is putting a greater focus on mental health – and you can now log moods in the Mindfulness app.
Users can tag their state of mind, and the app can also help identify triggers for particular moods.
Over on the iPhone, you can also take mental health assessments, which can alert predisposition for anxiety and depression – which could prompt people to start a conversation with a professional.
Apple is also leveraging the ambient light sensor on the Apple Watch, which will now track time spent in daylight within Apple Health, as part of a new focus on myopia – a common eye condition.
Targets can also be set in Family Sharing, so you can try and set children targets for spending more time outside.
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