Your Apple Watch may look very different when watchOS 10 arrives. As expected, the company is giving the smartwatch user interface an overhaul as part of one the firmware’s biggest updates yet.
You may recall that the original Apple Watch UI was designed, in part, around Glances — a carousel of widgets for different apps and features. Apple eventually moved away from Glances to place more emphasis on apps, but now the company is looking to make widgets a larger focus of the Watch interface again.
It seems to work in a similar way to the Siri watch face that’s long been available on Apple Watch. However, this experience will now be available for any watch face. You can rotate the Digital Crown to access a smart stack of relevant widgets. Things like timers, stopwatches and podcasts will show up as widgets when they’re in use. You can even have a widget that includes your favorite complications.
The Activity app will soon include corner shortcuts. You’ll be able to view more data by rotating the crown. The World Clock app is getting an update too. It will feature dynamic background colors to help reflect the time of day in different time zones, which could come in handy when you have friends, family or colleagues in different parts of the world.
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There are two new clock faces coming in watchOS 10. One called Palette will show you the time in a colorful fashion. The other face features Snoopy and Woodstock.
Cyclists may be pleased by updates that are coming in WatchOS 10. You’ll be able to connect to Bluetooth bike sensors and view power and heart rate data during cycling sessions. Your watch can estimate your functional threshold power as well. Cycling activity that your Watch tracks will appear on your iPhone automatically.
The Compass app is also getting an upgrade, as it will automatically create two new waypoints. The first will drop a pin at the estimated position where you last had a cellular connection, which will be useful for when you’re hiking and need to make a call or see your messages. On a similar note, your Watch will be able to place a Last Emergency Call Waypoint. This will show roughly where you last had access to any carrier’s network so you can make an emergency call if needed. A new Elevation view will use altimeter data to provide a 3D view of saved waypoints, while folks in the US will be able to access a topographic map. You’ll be able to search for trailheads and trails nearby and view details such as trail length, type and difficulty.
The Mindfulness app will include a feature that allows you to log your emotions and moods by rotating the Digital Crown. Apple says that users can “scroll through engaging, multidimensional shapes to choose how they are feeling, select what is having the biggest impact on them and describe their feelings.” Through the Health app on iPhone and iPad, you’ll be able to access insights that can help you deduce the factors that are affecting your mental health, Apple says. The Apple Watch will also soon have a feature that can track how much time wearers are spending outdoors in an attempt to reduce the risk of nearsightedness.
Elsewhere, you’ll be able to view a FaceTime video message on your Watch and join Group FaceTime audio. The Medications app can deliver additional reminders if you don’t say you’ve taken your medication within 30 minutes of the scheduled time.
As for Apple Fitness+, you’ll soon be able to access a custom workout or meditation schedule that fits your needs. Stacks is a feature that’s essentially a playlist for Apple Fitness+. You can use it to line up multiple workouts and meditations that you can run through back-to-back. In addition, there’s a feature called Audio Focus that will let you increase the volume of either the trainers’ voices or the music.
On top of all that, Apple is making some tweaks to the physical controls. Pressing the side button will open the Control Center at any time. Double pressing the Digital Crown will take you back to your recently used apps.
Developers will have access to a beta of watchOS 10 starting today and a public beta will arrive next month. Apple will release watchOS 10 publicly this fall. You’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4 or later to use the new version of the OS.
Follow all of the news from Apple’s WWDC 2023 right here.