watchOS 8 Overview Updated December 28, 2021

watchOS 8: New features, compatibility, review, more

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37 'watchOS 8' stories

May 2021 - December 2021

How to install watchOS 8 beta

watchOS 8 received its first preview during the WWDC21 keynote and launched three months after this on September 20. The Apple Watch software focuses on health and well-being features, bringing a new Mindfulness app, Always-On Display API for developers, and Find My integration. Here’s everything about Apple’s latest watchOS update.

New features in watchOS 8

With the release of watchOS 7 in 2020, Apple introduced a handful of features as a new sleep tracking app, more workouts, and handwashing detection.

One of the features praised in this update was the ability to developers offer more than one complication per app on Watch Face. For example, Glow Baby can display multiple complications that help parents track bottle-feeding, breastfeeding, pumping statistics, and nap times, while Dawn Patrol can show tide, wind speed, and water temperature from a favorite surf spot.

Over the years, Apple has made changes to its internal development process for watchOS updates that make it easier for the company to add and remove new features. This makes each yearly release more stable because the company can remove features that aren’t ready for primetime. Now it’s time to meet all the new functions on watchOS 8.

New Watch Faces, Photos focus, and new workouts

watchOS 8 introduces two new Watch Faces: Portraits, in which users can select a Portrait photo taken ok their iPhones and add it as a main Watch Face, and World Timer that features time zones from places all over the globe.

Apple’s also putting a lot of effort into the Photos app with new memories served daily, a new mosaic grid view, and the ability to share photos via Messages and Mail with just a few taps.

With watchOS 8, Apple is also introducing a new Pilates workout as well as Tai Chi practice. A new guest trainer and Artist Spotlight are coming in this update. Trainer Jeanette Jenkins is coming to Apple Fitness+ and Artist Spotlight features workout playlists with music from a single artist, including Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, Alicia Keys, and Jennifer Lopez.

Home and Wallet features with watchOS 8

The Apple Watch better connects with your home. With watchOS 8, if someone rings your connected doorbell, you might see options like unlocking the door or turning on the entry lights. There’s also a new Camera room, and watchOS 8 knows which scenes you’re most likely to use based on the time of day.

The Wallet app is also becoming bigger and better. Apart from your car keys, the app will store your Home key and ID cards as well. This feature will also work with hotel keys and work credentials.

Both of these features will be available in an upcoming watchOS 8 update.

Focus, Mindfulness, and Sleep

One of the most important features in these update cycles is Focus. With this function, you can filter out distractions. For example, in the Watch app, you can set that every time you start a workout the “Fitness Focus” is on, so you won’t receive any notification you don’t want to.

The Breath app has also been reimagined and it’s now called Mindfulness. The new Reflect feature helps you establish a meditation practice by focusing on a short, thought-provoking theme.

With watchOS 8, the Sleep app now knows your sleeping respiratory rate and well as tracking your trends for even more health metrics to better see changes in your health over time.

Additional features in watchOS 8

There’s so much more coming to the Apple Watch with watchOS 8:

Lost and Found: Locate misplaced Apple devices with Find Devices, including Items, Devices, and People.

AssistiveTouch: Built-in motion sensors help answer calls, control an onscreen pointer, and even launch a menu of actions.

Enhanced Family Setup features: Transit cards for certain regions are now supported, so family members can easily use public transportation. Google Calendar and Mail accounts are also supported. And hiking workout metrics are now validated for kids.

Always-On Display: The Always‑On display allows you to see your watch face without raising your wrist or waking your watch. And now it works with lots of additional apps, including Alarms, Maps, Stopwatch, and your favorite third‑party apps.

New Contacts and Weather apps: On Contacts, it’s possible to quickly browse, add, or edit contacts. The Weather app now has a new icon and supports severe weather notifications. Get next-hour precipitation alerts and see rain intensity too.

Audio controls: See real‑time headphone audio levels in Control Center when you’re listening to media — just like on iPhone and iPad.

Set multiple timers at once: One for the rice. Another for the veggies. And, of course, don’t forget about what’s on the grill. Start several timers simultaneously and use Siri to give each one a label.

Siri integration with workouts: There’s a new Voice Feedback option in watchOS 8. When working out,  users can simply hear occasional checkpoints through their headphones. Read more about it here.

watchOS 8.1 features

Apple released watchOS 8.1 on October 25. Here’s what’s new with the system:

  • Enhanced algorithms to detect falls during workouts and option to enable fall detection during workouts only (Apple Watch Series 4 and later)
  • COVID-19 vaccination card support allows you to present verifiable vaccination information from Apple Wallet
  • Fitness+ supports SharePlay to allow subscribers to invite up to 32 people to workout together through a FaceTime call using iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV
  • Always On may not display the time accurately for some users when their wrist is down (Apple Watch Series 5 and later)

watchOS 8.3 features

watchOS 8.3 is currently the latest software update for the Apple Watch Series 7. Here’s what’s new:

  • Apple Music Voice Plan gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
  • Support for App Privacy Report to record data and sensor access
  • Fixes an issue where notifications may interrupt Mindfulness sessions unexpectedly for some users.

For an unknown reason, Apple jumped from watchOS 8.1 to watchOS 8.3. The company is currently testing watchOS 8.4.

watchOS 8 device compatibility

Apple Watch Series 6

All Apple Watches compatible with watchOS 7 will be able to upgrade to watchOS 8. Here’s the full list:

  • Apple Watch Series 3 (2017)
  • Apple Watch Series 4 (2018)
  • Apple Watch Series 5 (2019)
  • Apple Watch SE (2020)
  • Apple Watch Series 6 (2020)
  • Apple Watch Series 7 (2021)

Different from iPadOS, iOS, and macOS updates, Apple doesn’t make clear what functions will be available for each Watch. For instance, the Apple Watch Series 3 did not receive support for multiple complications last year.

Release date: When will watchOS 8 come out?

watchOS 8 was introduced at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

The watchOS 8 developer beta program started on the same day as the keynote, June 7. The release of the upcoming watchOS version to the general public is expected in the fall, probably around September.

Apple launched watchOS 8 on September 20.

watchOS 8 public beta: release date and how to install

On June 30, Apple released watchOS 8 public beta version. With that, all users running iOS 15 can install the upcoming watchOS software. Even with the operating system now available, enrolling in the Beta Software Program here lets you try upcoming software updates before anyone else.

watchOS 8 Review

In our review post about watchOS 8, we say that the new Apple Watch operating system brings small additions to the wearable while focusing on the user’s well-being:

watchOS 8 is all about small changes that will improve your glimpse experience with the Watch. This year, Apple is focusing on the quality of life improvements and larger screen sizes with the Apple Watch Series 7.

If you already enjoyed watchOS 7 but want to do a bit more with your Watch, stay more connected, learn more about your routine, and know when to take a break, watchOS 8 will help you with all of that.

watchOS 8 Stories December 13, 2021

Apple is releasing today iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, watchOS 8.3, tvOS 15.2, and HomePod Software version 15.2 to all users. This update brings support to Apple Music Voice Plan and more.

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watchOS 8 Stories November 29, 2021

Apple previewed its new cycle of operating systems in June during the WWDC21 keynote. With iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey, and tvOS 15, the company promised tons of new features.

Now that all these systems are available to the public, there are some features that are still a ways away from launching. Here are they.

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watchOS 8 Stories November 18, 2021

Apple has released a new update for Apple Watch today that patches a bug with Series 7 watches that aren’t charging “as expected.”

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watchOS 8 Stories November 10, 2021

Here’s how the new Mindfulness app and Reflect work in watchOS 8

Apple is putting more of a focus on mental health with watchOS 8, iOS 15, and macOS Monterey. And for Apple Watch, the Breathe app has been reworked with a new Reflect activity in addition to the updated Breathe experience. Here’s how the Mindfulness app works in watchOS 8.

watchOS 8 Stories November 2, 2021

Quadriplegic Apple user and disability campaigner Colin Hughes last year shared his experiences of using Apple kit as someone who uses a wheelchair and has only very limited use of his hands. He’s now followed up with a look at the accessibility improvements Apple made in iOS 15 and watchOS 8.

He highlights the progress Apple has made, as well as the weaknesses in its accessibility support, including a couple of very surprising failings…

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watchOS 8 Stories October 25, 2021

After about a month of beta testing, Apple is finally releasing watchOS 8.1 to all developers. Different from iOS 15.1 and other operating systems, watchOS 8.1 is all about minor updates.

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watchOS 8 Stories October 18, 2021

Right after October’s “Unleashed” special event, Apple released watchOS 8.1 RC for developers and public beta users. The update comes alongside iOS 15.1 RC and macOS Monterey RC, which were also released to beta users today.

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watchOS 8 Stories October 11, 2021

Following the release of iOS 15.0.2, Apple on Monday also released watchOS 8.0.1 — the first official update to watchOS 8. Today’s release brings specific bug fixes for Apple Watch Series 3 users.

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watchOS 8 Stories October 7, 2021

Update: watchOS 8.1 beta 3 is now available to public beta testers as well.

One week after releasing watchOS 8.1 beta 2, Apple is now seeding the third beta of watchOS 8.1 to developers. Here’s everything new with it.

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watchOS 8 Stories September 20, 2021

The final version of watchOS 8 is here. After three months of beta testing, here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s newest update for Apple Watch.

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The next major version of Apple Watch software lands today with the release of watchOS 8. Now users can choose to share health information with family members and doctors, take a moment to pause with the new Mindfulness app, and turn Portrait mode photos into watch faces.

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watchOS 8 Stories September 14, 2021

After the “California Streaming” event where Apple announced the new Apple Watch Series 7, the company is now seeding the Release Candidate version of watchOS 8 to all developers. Here’s everything new with the upcoming Apple Watch operating system.

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watchOS 8 for Apple Watch officially launching on September 20

Apple Watch Series 7 may not have a release date yet, but watchOS 8 is coming next week. The new software update for Apple Watch Series 3 and later will drop on Monday.

watchOS 8 Stories August 26, 2021

Update: watchOS 8 beta 7 is now available to public beta testers as well.

As we near the final release of watchOS 8, Apple is seeding today watchOS 8 beta 7 to all developers. Here’s everything new with the upcoming Apple Watch operating system.

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watchOS 8 Stories August 17, 2021

Less than a week week after seeding watchOS 8 beta 5 to developers, Apple is releasing its sixth beta. Here’s everything new with the upcoming Apple Watch operating system.

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watchOS 8 Stories August 11, 2021

Two weeks after seeding watchOS 8 beta 4 to developers, Apple is releasing its fifth beta. Here’s everything new with the upcoming Apple Watch operating system.

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watchOS 8 Stories August 8, 2021

Last month, Apple launched the Beta Software Program for all users who want to preview iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12 Monterey, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15. Now, the the company is looking to expand beta testers and is sending emails to those subscribed to the beta program to try out its latest public betas.

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watchOS 8 Stories July 19, 2021

A nice little feature of watchOS 8 that has gone a bit under the radar is the new Voice Feedback option in watchOS 8. The toggle can be enabled in the Settings app on the Watch itself or through the companion Watch app on the iPhone; go to Settings -> Workout and look for the Voice Feedback toggle.

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watchOS 8 Stories July 14, 2021

As Apple continues to work on iOS 15 and other updates ahead of the fall release, the company rolled out today the third beta versions of its latest software for developers. Interestingly, Apple claims that the updates will now require less available storage to install, which may solve a big problem for some users.

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Apple is finally releasing watchOS 8 beta 3 to all developers. After more than one month since WWDC 2021, when it was first previewed, Apple is now seeding another build for the upcoming Apple Watch operating system.

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watchOS 8 Stories July 12, 2021

If you’re familiar with activating sleep lock mode in Control Center on the Apple Watch, you might find yourself searching for that useful bed icon after updating to watchOS 8. The toggle puts your Apple Watch in a mode that stops alerts, dims the screen, and only shows a digital clock.

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watchOS 8 Stories July 2, 2021

Apple this week released the first public betas of its upcoming operating systems iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey, and tvOS 15. Are you planning to test these new systems?

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watchOS 8 Stories July 1, 2021

Eager to test out everything arriving with watchOS 8 like the new Mindfulness app, Focus mode, Photo watch faces with Portrait mode, multiple timers, AssistiveTouch, and more? Read along for how to install watchOS 8 public or developer beta.

Update: The free public beta for watchOS 8 is now available.

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Apple this week has officially released the first public betas of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, tvOS 15, and watchOS 8. As we wrote yesterday, there are some risks to installing the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 public betas, but you can take comfort in knowing that you can easily downgrade to iOS 14 if you experience bugs and performance issues.

The same, however, can’t be said for watchOS 8. Once you install the watchOS 8 public beta (or developer beta), there is no way to downgrade…

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