watchOS 9: low-power mode, refreshed watch faces & new health features

The rumor: Apple is planning a ream of new features for watchOS 9, according to Mark Gurman (86.4% accurate, via Bloomberg).

Here’s what’s coming to watchOS later this year…

  • Improved atrial fibrillation detection “to calculate what is known as ‘burden,’ or how often a person is in a state of atrial fibrillation across a certain period”
  • New low-power mode that allows you to still use parts of the watch while extending battery life…there is a power-reserve mode currently, but it only shows the time
  • “Many” existing watch faces will be updated (but no additional details are provided)
  • More pre-selectable workouts and “additional metrics” are also coming
  • Down the road, watchOS will also support satellite connectivity like on iPhone 14, but we don’t know exactly when

Sam’s take: All of this sounds incredibly useful, in contrast to the upcoming hardware health features for future Apple Watch models. Low-power mode will be an instant hit, I’d love to see some tweaked watch faces, and I look forward to seeing exactly what new workout types are supported (give me a Frisbee workout, please). While I was severely underwhelmed by watchOS 8, it sounds like watchOS 9 will be a breath of fresh air.