Apple announces watchOS 8 with new health features

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Apple just announced watchOS 8, the latest version of the company’s smartwatch platform for the Apple Watch. The new software is the successor to last year’s watchOS 7 and will be available to developers for the first time today to test their apps, with a public beta in July. A final public release is expected later this fall.

Apple introduces a new Mindfulness app, an extension of the Breathe app that lets you breathe all day long. It adds new animations and other features to help you relax.

The Fitness app is getting more and more types of tai chi and pilates workouts. The Apple Watch’s Health app explicitly tracks your breathing rate and alerts you if it’s outside of your normal patterns.

A new portrait watch face is coming in watchOS 8

There’s a new watch face that lets you use a photo taken using the iPhone’s portrait mode and layer text and other information behind it. Apple says you can customize what text is displayed and how it integrates with the image itself.

Likewise, the Photos app on the watch is being upgraded with a new layout and the ability to share photos directly via Messages or Apple’s Mail app. There are new text entry options when replying to messages.

The suite of new features in watchOS 8

WatchOS 8 gets some of the new features of iOS 15, including the new focus mode that lets you choose apps or contacts to send notifications to you in specific contexts. A handful of other new features are also coming, including alerts for next hour’s rainfall. Apple says the Series 6 watch will get car key support, using its UWB radio. You can also use your watch to find other Apple devices, such as AirTags.

Developing… we’re adding more to this post, but you can follow us with our WWDC 2021 live blog to get the news even faster.