watchOS 9.1 launches with Apple Watch battery improvements and bug fixes

watchOS 9 extends battery life during some workouts and allows you to download music while your Apple Watch is off its charger. It also contains a few bug fixes.

It’s time to install watchOS 9.1

Apple Watch Series 8 Hermes on a businessman's wrist
watchOS 9.1 lets you add custom timers to favorites! | Image: Boris Bučko/Unsplash

Apple released watchOS 9.1 (build number 20S75) on Monday, October 24, 2022, at 10am PT as a minor update with a few improvements and bug fixes for the Apple Watch. It packs in enhancements such as the ability to track your sleep stages, converse power with a low-power mode and use several new workout metrics.

If you’ve experienced early bugs like the annoying music download problem and battery drain during some workouts, watchOS 9.1 will fix those.

watchOS 9.1 is compatible with the Apple Watch Series 4 and later, the first-generation Apple Watch SE and later and the Apple Watch Ultra.

An exciting update with lots of under-the-hood changes

Aside from tentpole features, the update is packed with quality-of-life improvements.

For example, you can now receive email notifications without an iPhone and edit reminders, as well as follow and unfollow podcasts, all right from your wrist.

This Apple Watch update at long last enables you to add events in the Calendar app, assign a specific watch face to automatically activate with a particular Focus mode and use the redesigned version of the Astronomy watch face.

There’s finally a handy switch to turn off cellular data! watchOS 9.1 also lets you view edited iMessages in the Messages app, favorite timers, resize text from within the Control Center and see your activity rings during a workout session.

Other tidbits include automatic punctuation for Dictation, Apple Watch mirroring (control your iPhone with the watch), retracing your steps with Backtrack, finding a parked car, kickboard swim detection, Quick Actions for assistive features, and more.

How to update your Apple Watch to watchOS 9.1

To install the update, open the companion Watch app on your paired iPhone. Importantly, the phone must be on iOS 16.1, which launched alongside watchOS 9.1. Otherwise, you might be prevented from updating the wearable device to watchOS 9.1. Read: Tips for how to fix various watchOS install problems on your Apple Watch

In the Watch app, hit the My Watch tab and then navigate to General → Software Update. If the watchOS 9.1 update is listed there, choose the option to download and install the update (you may be asked for your iPhone or Apple Watch passcode). Be sure the watch is on its charger and has at least fifty percent battery or the update won’t install. Read: How to speed up watchOS updates significantly

watchOS 9.1 release notes

Apple provided the full watchOS 9.1 release notes:

This update includes improvements for your Apple Watch.

  • Battery life extended during Outdoor Walking, Running, and Hiking Workouts with the ability to reduce the frequency of heart rate and GPS readings on Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) and Apple Watch Ultra
  • Music can download while Apple Watch is off charger using Wi-Fi or cellular
  • Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard, is supported enabling a wide variety of smart home accessories to work together across ecosystems

This update also includes bug fixes for your Apple Watch.

  • Voice feedback of average pace during Outdoor Run may be incorrect
  • Chance of rain estimates shown in the Weather app may not match estimates on iPhone in the current location
  • The hourly weather complication may label times as AM during PM hours
  • The time duration displayed during Strength Training Workout may not advance for some users
  • VoiceOver may not announce the app name prior to reading the notification when receiving multiple notifications

Apple provides detailed release notes for all watchOS 9 updates on the webpage titled ”About watchOS 9 updates.” If you’re interested in the security content of watchOS 9.1 and other Apple software updates, peruse Apple’s support document.

Is watchOS 9.1 worth installing?

watchOS 9 is pretty big on new features which, taken cumulatively, make this an important update. For people who are currently on the watchOS 9.0, watchOS 9.0.1 or watchOS 9.0.2 update, the new watchOS 9.1 software will at leats squish more of the early bugs. If you haven’t updated to watchOS 9 yet, now may be a good time to pull the trigger. Read: How to fix Apple Watch apps not working or freezing