It’s Monday, September 20, which means it’s Launch Day for most of the brand new versions of Apple’s popular software platforms. Right alongside the public launch of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, the company is also welcoming watchOS 8 and tvOS 15.
Today, Apple has released both watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 to the public. Apple has been beta testing both updates for months now, ever since unveiling them back in June of this year. But the wait is finally over for those who have been eagerly anticipating the launch.
To update to watchOS 8, make sure that the Apple Watch you’re updating is paired to the iPhone, connected to its wireless charger, and has at least 50% battery life. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, then select General –> Software Update and follow the onscreen instructions. If you have Automatic Updates switched on, then your Apple Watch will update on its own after updating your iPhone to iOS 15 and while it’s connected to its charger.
What’s new in watchOS 8
- watchOS 8 now supports showcasing Portrait photos captured from iPhone right on the watch face
- Photos from Memories and Featured Photos now sync to Apple Watch every day, which can be shown off in a watch face
- A new watch face from Memories shows off photos in a mosaic grid
- Share photos from Messages and Mail right from the Apple Watch
- watchOS 8 supports interacting with smart devices. Users can unlock a smart door lock, for instance, right from the wrist
- There’s a new Camera room app on the Apple Watch, which allows users to see security camera footage right on their wrist
- Smart home Scenes are supported in watchOS 8 now, making it quick and easy to launch a Scene for automated smart accessories
- Status symbols for smart home accessories are viewable in the Apple Watch Home app
- The Wallet app for Apple Watch with watchOS 8 now supports more digital keys, including house keys, garage keys, hotel keys, car keys, and more
- Drivers license and identification cards stored in the Wallet app can be presented on Apple Watch, but this feature has been delayed
Messages and Mail
- Editing text is easier in watchOS 8, just use the Digital Crown to reposition the text input icon to edit where you want
- watchOS 8 supports dictation and scribble for composing messages
- Users can add gifs to their Messages right from the Apple Watch
- The Music app has been redesigned to make sharing songs from the Apple Watch even easier
- Like in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Focus in watchOS 8 makes it easier to reduce distractions. Customizable Focus modes allows users to choose which notifications they receive at a designated time
- Suggested Focus options include Workouts or Fitness, Mindfulness, among others
- The Breathe app has been redesigned and expanded, and is now called Mindfulness
- The Reflect feature allows users to focus on a single, thought-provoking theme
- The Breathe feature now offers more visualizations while breathing
- Mindful Minutes will show just how much mindfulness you’re racking up on a regular basis
- watchOS 8 and Apple Watch can now track breaths per minute, meaning it tracks respiratory rate while sleeping
- The Apple Watch’s fall detection will now record a fall while you’re working out, and, if it does, will call for help automatically
- A more robust set of features for outdoor cyclists
- Pilates is now supported
- Tai Chi is now supported
- Group workouts and new guided Meditations are supported with watchOS 8
Apple did not make a huge deal about the next big update for the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K set-top boxes. We do know that SharePlay won’t be available at launch. However, one new feature for tvOS 15 is the ability to sign into tvOS 15 apps using Face ID or Touch ID from an iPhone, which should make signing in much easier.
tvOS 15 also features support for pairing two HomePod minis for stereo output, as long as you use an Apple TV 4K.
The updates to watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 are available now for free on eligible devices.