This story is part ofCNET’s full coverage of and about Apple’s annual developer conference.
WatchOS 9, the next big software upgrade for the, offers many new ways to track your health. Apple unveiled the update on Monday during its annual preview where new fitness features for runners, better sleep tracking, a medication tracking app and new watch faces were unveiled.
The announcement showcases Apple’s focus on health and fitness as key selling points for the Apple Watch. The new sleep tracking and running metrics should help Apple close the performance gap between its smartwatches and competing devices from companies like Fitbit, Samsung, Garmin and Oura. The update will come to Apple Watch Series 4 and later in the fall. A developer preview is available now, while a public beta launches next month.
With WatchOS 9, Apple Watch gets new metrics designed to help runners better understand their performance and reduce the risk of injury. These include vertical oscillation, stride length, and ground contact time. In a new training view, you can see more information at a glance, such as segments, split times and elevation gain.
Heart rate zones give you a deeper insight into the intensity of your workouts in WatchOS 9. And a new multisport training option allows triathletes to easily switch between run, bike and swim tracking. Apple is also adding a custom exercise option that allows for interval training with rest periods.
Apple is also improving its sleep analytics by bringing Sleep Stages to its smartwatches. As the name suggests, Sleep Stages tells you how much time you’ve spent in REM, core, and deep sleep. Fitness trackers from Fitbit, Samsung, and other companies already offered this feature, so this addition aims to spruce up the Apple Watch.
WatchOS 9 will bring some improvements in atrial fibrillation detection. The Apple Watch can now provide more context with a new feature called AFib History, which tracks heart disease frequency and other trends.
A new Medications app is coming to WatchOS 9. The app aims to make it easier to log medications and set regular reminders to take certain medications and vitamins, even without an Apple Watch. You can add medications by scanning a label or manually typing the name. The app also displays drug interaction information.
The update brings four new watch faces and support for six new keyboard languages. The new watch faces are called Lunar, Playtime, Metropolitan and Astronomy. Other features include less distracting notifications when the Apple Watch is in use, new Quick Actions for answering calls or snapping a photo with a double-pin gesture, and a redesigned Dock that prioritizes apps you’re currently using.
New software updates for Apple’s flagship products are usually at the heart of WWDC. Apple is using its opening keynote as an opportunity to generate excitement for new features and updates ahead of the software’s release later in the year. Although most of the conference will be virtual this year, Apple hosted a special event for developers and students on Monday at its Apple Park campus.
Apple has maintained its leading position in the smartwatch industry. According to Counterpoint Research, Apple accounted for 36.1% of smartwatch shipments in the first quarter of 2022, up from 35.9% in the same period last year. Apple grabbed 28.9% of basic watch and smartwatch shipments in the first quarter of 2022, according to a report by research firm Canalys.
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