watchOS 9 is officially released, which means it’s time to update your Apple Watch if you’re ready to take advantage of all the new features, tools, and settings. But with all the upgrades you’ll find on your wrist, you may want to give advice on what to try first.
In watchOS 9, Apple Watch gets improved sleep tracking with sleep stage data, a set of new watch faces, a revamped workout interface, AFib history, the iOS 16 Medication app, slim alert logos and more.
All watchOS 9 supported devices also get Apple Watch Low Power Mode — the battery life feature isn’t just for the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. Some watchOS 9 updates are exclusive to select Apple Watch devices, but no matter what you have, installing the latest software version will make the best smartwatch even better.
Check out our guide on how to update your Apple Watch to install watchOS 9 and get started with new Apple Watch features. Here are the five features that you should try first when running watchOS 9.
1. Change the face of your Apple Watch
There are more Apple Watch faces to choose from now than ever, with four new ones added in watchOS 9: Metropolitan, Lunar, Astronomy, and Playtime. We actually interviewed 2D/3D illustrator Joi Fulton as well as a couple of Apple executives to learn more about how to put this set of watch faces together.
Some of the current watch faces have new customization options as well. As always, you can create a library of many watch faces, but now your iPhone’s pre-focus settings can also include custom watch faces. This means that if you enable a certain focus state on your iPhone, the Apple Watch’s face can automatically change to reflect your preferences in the selected focus.
2. Set up the medicines application
One iOS 16 feature that we can’t wait to use actually supports the use of both iPhone and Apple Watch. Although the new drug app may not sound exciting, it is very practical for anyone taking any type of drug, helping you create a more complete digital health profile.
In the Health app on your iPhone, you can add your medications (either daily or temporarily, like antibiotics) and select the time of day to take them. The Health app will not only check for potential reactions to your medications, but will send you reminders when it’s time to take them. These reminders will appear on your Apple Watch, prompting you to sign in quickly and discreetly from your wrist.
3. Turn off your Apple Watch rings
The Apple Watch fitness app received a fairly major overhaul in watchOS 9, so a great way to try out new features is to be active. With several new running metrics, there are more ways to monitor your running and progress in watchOS 9 — vertical oscillation, stride length, and ground time data allow you to explore your performance further. Customized workouts and familiarization with routines can also guide you to achieving goals.
Another new metric for Apple Watch exercise tracking is heart rate zones. Monitoring your heart rate zones can help you get a sense of your intensity levels. You can see your heart rate zones in real time in the Workout app. You can now also easily see the progress of your Apple Watch rings without leaving the app.
4. Manage your Apple Watch battery life
Although it was a later announcement, the Apple Watch’s Low Power Mode is one of watchOS 9’s most exciting updates. According to Apple estimates, the battery life of the Apple Watch Series 8 now extends from 18 hours to 36 hours. The company hasn’t given estimates for older Apple Watch devices, but you should see improvements to your Apple Watch’s endurance if you turn on Low Power Mode in Control Center.
Low Power Mode will disable power-draining features like the always-on display, cellular connectivity, Wi-Fi, automatic exercise tracking, and continuous heart rate monitoring. It might not be a feature you want to use all the time, but if you have a long day or even a night flight ahead, see if Low Power Mode keeps your Apple Watch alive.
5. Put your Apple Watch to sleep
In watchOS 9, the Sleep app has been upgraded to include data on sleep stages. Previously, the Apple Watch could only tell the time you spent in bed and the time you went to sleep through respiratory data. Now, you can see an overview of your sleep cycles.
Using the information collected by the accelerometer and heart rate monitor, your Apple Watch should now be able to detect your sleep stages throughout the night. You will be able to see how much time you spent on each stage and when you might wake up. Long-term sleep trends can be reviewed in the Health app on your iPhone.
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