Apple announces watchOS 8 at WWDC with new health features

Apple just announced watchOS 8, the latest version of the organization’s smartwatch version for the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch platform is going to see some interesting changes in its next software update, which you’ll be able to check out soon. Developers will get access to a beta first, and the general public can download the upgrade later this year, likely in the fall.

There are new apps debuting with this update as well as old ones getting major changes. The Breathe app is getting an update, from a new animation to help you focus to a “reflect” mode that prompts you to think about something specific and improve mindfulness. The mindfulness app will separately be available and will constantly nag you to breathe throughout the day.

The Fitness app will now include tai chi and Pilates workout modes, so you can more accurately track those activities. Just like all other workouts, you select the option and keep going until you’ve finished a workout.

For the sleep trackers, the Apple Watch’s Health app will explicitly track your respiratory rate while sleeping and notify you if it’s outside of your normal patterns. It will also take a look at trends over time to see what you need to improve.

There’s also a new watchface that will let you use a photo taken with the iPhone’s portrait mode and layer text and other information behind it. It also offers depth with animations when you rotate your watch crown. The photos app on the watch has been significantly improved to make it easier for the user to navigate through the photos.

Messaging from Apple Watch has also been improved. You’ll be able to send photos from the updated photos app in two taps, just like you would from your phone.

The Apple watchOS 8 also features various other upgrades like next-hour precipitation alerts, More native apps will be able to take advantage of the Apple Watch’s always-on display, including Maps, Mindfulness, Now Playing, Phone, Podcasts, Stopwatch, Timers, and Voice Memos. Apple says it is providing an API for third-party apps to use it as well. The newer models will be equipped with sensors to measure you blood glucose level.

Apple Health is also using your step-tracking data to help evaluate what it calls “walking steadiness.” The Apple Health app will give you a score based on available data, and make recommendations to improve your steadiness when walking.

And finally, you’ll be able to set multiple concurrent timers on the Apple Watch and give them unique names. Apple says watchOS 8 will be available for models reaching back to the Series 3.