Aside from the new Race Route and Automatic Track Detection features, watchOS 9.2 extends the Apple Watch Ultra’s battery life in low-power mode to up to 17 hours.
How to update Apple Watch to watchOS 9.2
watchOS 9.2 supports Apple Watch Series 4 and later, Apple Watch Ultra and the second-generation Apple Watch SE. The update can be installed through your iPhone or directly on the watch. To install watchOS 9.2 via your iPhone, open the companion Watch app on the phone and hit the My Watch tab, then choose General → Software Update. Your iPhone must be running iOS 16.2.
To download the update without your iPhone, go to Settings → General → Software Update on the watch itself. Either way, you’ll need to hit Install to download the update and enter your Apple Watch passcode to proceed with the installation.
Race Route, Automatic Track Detection and more
The Race Route feature was announced at WWDC22, but it didn’t make the cut for the initial watchOS 9.0 release. With it, runners and cyclists can race against their own ghost times. The watch notifies you during the run when you’re ahead or behind your pace. And if you cheat by going off-route, it’ll tap you on the wrist. Race Route supports outdoor running and cycling, but not any kind of walking.
Automatic Track Detection
Another new feature for runners, this one automatically detects when you’re at a running track. It uses Apple Maps data along with GPS to provide the pace and distance metrics. This is a cool feature, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the watch only detects tracks found on Apple Maps. Other fitness watches actually learn the track just from the location data. The feature is restricted to the United States.
Tidbits: Kickboxing algorithm, Noise app changes and more
- The Workout app uses a new bespoke algorithm to track your Kickboxing workouts which Apple says results in more accurate metrics.
- The Noise app now displays low environmental sound levels now supports your AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
- In the Home app, you can invite people in your Family Sharing circle to control your smart home devices.
- Crash Detection should have fewer misfires and you should no longer see incorrect time after dismissing a Sleep Focus alarm.
Apple’s release notes for watchOS 9.2
Check out the official release notes for watchOS 9.2 published in a support document on Apple’s website about the watchOS 9 updates.
watchOS 9.2 includes new features, improvements and bug fixes, including:
- Outdoor Run workout now automatically detects when you arrive at a running track and provides track-specific metrics (United States only)
- Race Route lets you compete against your previous performance in Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycle and Outdoor Wheelchair workouts
- New custom Kickboxing algorithm in the Workout app for more accurate metrics
- Noise app displaying when environmental sound levels are reduced is now available with AirPods Pro (1st generation) and Airpods Max when using active noise cancellation
- Family Setup users can be invited to the Home app to control HomePod speakers and smart home accessories, and unlock doors with home keys in the Wallet app
- Accessibility support to visualize when Siren is in use on Apple Watch Ultra
- Improved response time and accuracy of hand gesture controls for AssistiveTouch and Quick Actions
- Crash Detection optimizations on Apple Watch Ultra, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch SE (2nd generation)
- Fix for bug that causes display of incorrect watch time immediately after dismissing an alarm in Sleep Focus
- Fix for bug causing interruptions to mindfulness sessions
Some features may not be available for all countries or all areas, for more information visit: https://www.apple.com/watchos/feature-availability/
For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222
Longer battery life for Apple Watch Ultra
In Low Power Mode, the Ultra can now get up to 17 hours of continuous use during a multisport activity without sacrificing GPS or heart rate accuracy. Battery life highly depends on individual usage, but previously, Apple said the Ultra should be able to last the entirety of an Ironman in this mode. The average Ironman time is roughly 14 hours, so this adds a bit of cushioning for slower triathletes or slightly longer races.
Apple’s release notes for watchOS 9.2 don’t make any mention of this feature. In fact, the previous update (watchOS 9.1) extended the Apple Watch Ultra battery life during Outdoor Walking, Running and Hiking Workouts by reducing the frequency of heart rate and GPS readings (also applies to Apple Watch Series 8 and the second-generation Apple Watch SE.