Apple hasn't released the next-generation Apple Watch Series 7 yet, but a fresh annual software update for the Apple Watch is available now. The watchOS 8 update can be installed right now to the older Apple Watch Series 3 and up to the later versions, and it offers several new features.
Check it out:
The Breathing app for the Apple Watch is gone - or, rather, has been renamed Mindfulness, reflecting its more holistic approach to your mental health. Breathing routines have been expanded to include a new reflection feature to help you take time to think more thoughtfully throughout the day. Subscribers to Fitness+ (a service not yet available in some countries) also get guided meditations.
In watchOS 8 you can set a portrait photo of someone who means a lot to you as the main watch face. The new portrait watch face is set just like any other watch face - from the "Dials" tab in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Then select a portrait photo and appreciate how the watch separates the background and the portrait proper into different layers.
Messages has received some significant improvements this time: the digital crown now serves to move the text cursor for easier editing, and the same text input area is used to enter scribbles, emoji and GIFs. The updated interface should mean you'll be able to compose more messages on the watch itself and in a shorter amount of time.
With the watchOS 8 update, you can finally set multiple timers to run in parallel with each other. As always, you can set them through the Timers app on your watch or by using the "Hey Siri" voice command, and you can also assign a tag to each specific timer to make them easier to identify.
In watchOS 8, you have two new apps to find other gadgets: Find Items (looking for AirTags and other similar trackers) and Find Devices (looking for connected Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad and Mac). There is an option to optionally receive notifications when your Apple Watch is detached from other devices such as iPhones.
More detailed weather forecast
There's support for severe weather notifications, precipitation warnings for the next hour, and several updated weather complications you can play around with on the watch face. As before, scroll down the page to see all available data.
Simplified Smart Home Control
You can now control various HomeKit devices connected to Apple's smart home platform, and even view broadcasts from compatible smart video cameras directly on your watch without having to turn to your iPhone.
Improved compatibility with a variety of locks
There is now ultra-wideband support for digital car keys, the ability to unlock and start compatible cars, and compatible house or hotel keys can also be added digitally. In some U.S. states, driver's licenses or state IDs can be added to the Wallet app, though this is probably easier to do on an iPhone.
After installing watchOS 8, the Apple Watch can track your breathing rate (number of breaths per minute) while you sleep, along with other data such as your heart rate. Dig into the sleep data on the Apple Watch or check it through the Health app on a connected iPhone to see measurements that have been recorded over time.
Apple Watch can now more accurately track two types of workouts: Tai Chi and Pilates. Apple claims that both types are "upported by powerful, proven, purpose-built heart rate and movement measurement algorithms to provide users with accurate calorie counts when actively tracking.
The same like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, the Apple Watch supports new "Focusing" profiles that allow users to set custom "Do Not Disturb" rules for various scenarios (office, gym, car, and so on). They can be really useful if you take the time to set them up properly, and the easiest way to do that is to open "Settings" on the connected iPhone and select "Focusing" there.