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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

watchOS 8: Release Date, Features, Apple Watch Compatibility and More

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While the rumor mill suggests that iOS 15 is gearing up to be a major upgrade, watchOS 8 seems to be no less impressive either. Apart from offering new health and fitness features, we could see Apple put more emphasis on the customization aspect of the Apple Watch. And that’s what makes the upcoming watchOS 8 much more exciting. So are you eager to know what the next version of watchOS has in store for us? Here is everything we know about watchOS 8 ahead of the official launch, including release date, all-new feature leaks and rumors, compatibility, and more.

watchOS 8: Everything We Know So Far (2021)

Apple has succeeded in keeping a large chunk of watchOS 8 details under the wraps. However, some notable features have leaked online, giving us a good idea of what to expect from the next iteration of watchOS. To help you navigate through all the details, we have created a table of contents below. So, use it to jump between sections at your own pace!

watchOS 8 Release Date

WWDC 2021

Apple is set to unveil watchOS 8 alongside macOS 12, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and tvOS 15 at the much-awaited WWDC 2021 developer conference that kicks off June 7 and will continue until June 11. The tech giant will release the watchOS 8 developer beta on June 7, followed by public beta by the end of June or in early July. After months of beta testing, Apple will eventually roll out watchOS 8 to the public this fall (September or early October).

watchOS 8 Complete Timeline

  • When will watchOS 8 come out? Apple will announce watchOS 8 at WWDC 2021 on June 7. 
  • watchOS 8 Developer Beta: The Cupertino giant will roll out the developer beta for testing on June 7, right after the WWDC 2021 keynote speech. 
  • watchOS 8 Public Beta: Apple will release the public beta update by the end of June or in the first week of July.
  • Official Release Date of watchOS 8: The stable update will officially roll out to all users this fall after months of rigorous beta testing. To be more precise, Apple will launch watchOS 8 in mid-September or early October. 

As is usually the case, Apple will continue to refine watchOS 8 with frequent updates, new features, and bug fixes after the public release. We will keep you updated on those until the next version launches in 2022.

watchOS 8 Compatible Apple Watch Models

In what could be good news for many Apple Watch owners, watchOS 8 will most likely support all the devices currently running watchOS 7. That means you will get watchOS 8 update even on your Apple Watch Series 3 that launched back in 2017. As the company still sells the Apple Watch 3, there is a high chance it won’t be left out, at least this year.

Here is the list of all supported Apple Watch models that will get the watchOS 8 update:

  • Apple Watch Series 3
  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 7 (unannounced)

watchOS 8 Features: Leaks and Rumors

Though Apple has kept most watchOS 8 updates under the wraps, some feature leaks have slipped through the cracks. We can expect to see a couple of new features in the upcoming version of watchOS at WWDC 2021. Let’s take a look at what these features are:

Blood Sugar Monitoring

Apple Watch is already one of the best health-focused wearables on the market. But the company is set to further its lead with support for blood glucose monitoring on the upcoming Apple Watch 7. As per reports, the company will use a non-invasive optical sensor to measure blood glucose in users to help manage conditions such as diabetes. This feature, along with alcohol monitoring, would most likely become accessible via a new app or part of the Health suite in watchOS 8, as per reports.

Assistive Touch

AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch - watchOS feature
Image Courtesy: Apple

Ahead of its developer conference, the Cupertino giant has announced an amazing accessibility feature for Apple Watch users. Dubbed Assistive Touch, this feature allows users with upper body limb differences to answer calls, control an onscreen pointer, and access the Control Center without touching the display or controls. They can use hand gestures such as clench or pinch to navigate around their wearable. We expect this accessibility feature to arrive with watchOS 8, but it could roll out sooner as well.

We also expect to see messages and calling improvements, along with better sleep tracking and new exercise modes for the upcoming Apple Watch Explorer Edition, a rugged variant of the wearable.

watchOS 8: What We Would Like to See

Revamped App Icons and UI

Pretty much in line with iOS 15, we expect watchOS 8 to get a massive UI overhaul as well. The Apple Watch icons have looked the same since its release, so Apple should redesign the app icons that to be in sync with the iOS app icons, which are likely to get a new look and feel. Though there’s not much detail for the UI revamp available online, we would like to see a more intuitive and snappier user interface.

Fully Customizable Control Center

Fully Customizable Control Center

Barring a few basic customizations like adding/ removing features, the watchOS control center doesn’t have much to offer. It has become stale and is due for an upgrade. One of the best ways Apple can revamp the control center in watchOS 8 is by adding support for complications. This will not only open the gate for customization but also make the control center more user-friendly. Seeing specific information from apps in the control center would be nice, wouldn’t it?

More Functional Always-On-Display

The always-on display is one of my favorite Apple Watch features of all time. What I love the most about it is the ability to keep track of time and have the watch face and the most recent app at your disposal at all times. While the always-on display in its current state leaves little room for complaint, I think a little more customization would be great. I would appreciate the ability to select a handful of watch faces that I can automatically cycle through on the always-on display. Besides, the option to show your favorite apps instead of just the recently used app would also be cool.

Touch ID Biometric Authentication

Touch-ID-patent-for-Apple-Watch-watchOS-8

While iPhones and iPads have got biometric authentication for years, Apple Watch is yet to adopt this feature. Though there is a pretty neat “Unlock with iPhone” feature that lets you unlock the Apple Watch when you unlock your iPhone, it’s not the desired solution. So we would love to have Touch ID support on the next Apple Watch.

Apple was recently granted (via Patently Apple) a patent for Touch ID on the Apple Watch. Based on the patent, the fingerprint sensor will be used for several purposes such as device unlocking, user identification, authorizing transactions, and more in watchOS 8. Besides, you can check out other new features, including a native notes app, sound recognition, and more, we have on our watchOS 8 wishlist from the linked article.

Stay Up-to-Date with the Latest watchOS 8 Features

There you go! So, that wraps this extensive roundup of the watchOS 8 rumors. As it’s just a matter of few days before the next iteration of watchOS will finally see the light of the day, more intriguing details are just around the corner. Until then, you can learn how to use your Apple Watch to unlock an iPhone while wearing a face mask. Also, let us know your expectations from the upcoming version of watchOS in the comments section below.

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