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Apple watchOS 9 arrives with new fitness and health features for various Apple Watch models

watchOS 9 is available on all recent Apple Watch models, except for the Watch Series 3. (Image source: Apple)
watchOS 9 is available on all recent Apple Watch models, except for the Watch Series 3. (Image source: Apple)
Apple has released watchOS 9, a substantial update for the Apple Watch Series 4 onwards. Rolling out now, watchOS 9 overhauls almost all aspects of Apple's smartwatch operating system, including adding a power-saving mode for improved battery life, among other changes.

Apple has finally started rolling out watchOS 9, having presented the operating system update during last week's Far Out hardware. Available on the Watch Series 4 and newer, watchOS 9 can be downloaded via the Watch app on a paired iPhone by heading to the main Settings menu, then to General and onto Software Update. Please be aware that watchOS 9 is over a 1 GB download, so it could take a while to transfer to your Apple Watch.

As expected, Apple has bundled several overdue features, such as a power-saving mode that the company claims can double an Apple Watch's battery life from 18 hours to 36 hours. For reference, the new mode disables always-on-display functionality but keeps fitness tracking and notifications active. Only with this feature can the Apple Watch Ultra achieve up to 60 hours of battery life, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro.

Additionally, Apple now allows watchOS to automatically switch between cycling, running and swimming during a multi-sport workout, as well as showing heart rate zones, mirroring functionality already offered by Garmin. Moreover, Apple has overhauled sleep tracking with deep sleep and REM sleep analysis. Furthermore, Apple has added several watch faces, including Nike watch faces for non-Nike models. The full watchOS 9 changelog is as follows:

Watch Faces

  • Astronomy now displays current cloud coverage and star map
  • Lunar includes a Chinese, Hebrew or Islamic lunar calendar wrapped around a moon with a live rendering of moon phases
  • Playtime includes animated numbers designed by Chicago artist Joi Fulton with editing options for background colours
  • Metropolitan features a type-driven watch face with numbers that dynamically change in style and weight as you turn the Digital Crown
  • Nike Analogue, Nike Bounce, Nike Compact, Nike Digital and Nike Hybrid, all with a tappable Nike Swoosh that launches Nike Run Club, are now available for more models of Apple Watch
  • Rich Complications, Chinese script options and background colour editor available on Breathe, California, Modular, Typograph and more
  • Portraits now supports portraits of dogs, cats and landscapes, with the ability to customise the colour of the background or entire photo
  • Ability to choose the watch face displayed when a Focus is active


  • Ability to customise and scroll through multiple Workout Views during a workout including Splits, Segments, Activity Rings and more
  • Heart Rate Zones view uses max and resting heart rate to create personalised zones and shows time spent in each zone
  • Elevation view displays current elevation and elevation gain and visually maps your elevation progress during Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycle, Outdoor Wheelchair Run Pace, Hiking, Outdoor Walk and Outdoor Wheelchair Walk Pace
  • Running Power view, measured in watts, shows an instantaneous measure of how much power is generated during your run (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and later)
  • Running Form Metrics including Stride Length, Ground Contact Time and Vertical Oscillation available in Workout Views to monitor and trend running efficiency (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and later)
  • Custom Workout enables you to create Workouts with repeating sets of intervals that can be based on a time, distance or an open goal with automatic or manual advancement to your next set
  • Pacer provides a training experience to help you sustain a desired pace using alerts and a dedicated workout view
  • Multisport Workout supports duathlon or triathlon training with automatic detection of Open Water / Pool Swim, Indoor/Outdoor Cycle, Indoor/Outdoor Run and transitions to the next leg
  • Workout alerts can be customised for metrics like pace, power, cadence and heart rate zones
  • Pool Swim workouts automatically detect kickboard
  • SWOLF swimming efficiency metric calculated as stroke count plus time to complete lap


  • Trainer guidance displayed on screen including targets for Intensity, strokes per minute for Rowing, revolutions per minute for Cycling and incline percentage for Treadmill
  • Trainer guidance and personal fitness metrics displayed on screen for compatible third-party TVs and devices


  • Redesigned compass app with more in-depth information and zoomable views (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 5 and later)
  • Primary face supports both an analogue compass dial and a digital view of current bearing and direction
  • Zoomed view provides analogue view of bearing plus your elevation, incline and coordinates
  • Compass Waypoints allow you to mark your position or point of interest (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and later)
  • Backtrack uses GPS to track your historic path in case you get lost or disoriented (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 6 and later)


  • Sleep stage tracking using data from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor to detect time spent in REM, Core and Deep Sleep, as well as time spent awake
  • Comparisons chart provides a view of heart rate and respiratory rate alongside time asleep in the Health app on iPhone


  • Capabilities to log as-needed and scheduled medications, including the amount and time taken
  • Ability to view medication schedule and what you have logged for the day
  • Reminders to log scheduled medications
  • Medications complication to see your schedule or quickly open the app

AF History

  • Weekly notifications with estimate of the percentage of time spent in atrial fibrillation during the previous calendar week
  • Highlights show which day of the week and time of day when AF is highest
  • Tracking of lifestyle factors that may influence time spent in AF, including Exercise, Sleep, Weight, Alcohol Consumption and Mindful Minutes, in the Health app on iPhone
  • Shareable PDF for richer conversations with healthcare providers
  • Support for users aged 22 years or older with diagnosis of atrial fibrillation

Family Setup

  • Podcasts app is now available and includes ability to search, download, follow shows and explore curated content
  • Third-party email support extended to Yahoo and Outlook
  • Editing and sharing contact photos now available


  • Expanded Quick Actions with AssistiveTouch for play and pause in Now Playing, pause and resume in Workout, take a photo using Camera Remote, and toggle between map view and turn-by-turn directions in Maps
  • Bluetooth keyboard pairing with Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch Mirroring lets you control Apple Watch remotely from your paired iPhone via AirPlay, with support for assistive technologies like Voice Control or Switch Control as an alternative to tapping the Apple Watch display

Other features and improvements:

  • Low Power Mode maintains core features of Apple Watch while temporarily disabling select background features, such as Always On display and heart health notifications, to extend battery life
  • Support for international roaming allows you to stay connected to your mobile network while travelling abroad (Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 5 and later)
  • Expanded keyboard languages including French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish available on Apple Watch Series 7 and later
  • Communication safety setting in Screen Time gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or attempt to send photos that contain nudity in Messages
  • Cycle deviation notifications alert you if your logged menstrual cycles show a pattern of infrequent periods, irregular periods, prolonged periods or persistent spotting
  • New Cardio Recovery metric estimated by Apple Watch available in the Health app
  • Reminders app updated to support editing so you can add key details like location, tags and deadlines
  • Calendar app redesigned to support creation of new calendar events with ability to switch to day, list and week views
  • Enhanced Podcast experience with support for search, and the ability to follow and unfollow shows, and discover new content in Listen Now
  • Dock updated to show apps running in background at the top
  • Notifications redesigned with streamlined slimline banner when actively using Apple Watch
(Image source: NotebookCheck)
(Image source: NotebookCheck)


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 09 > Apple watchOS 9 arrives with new fitness and health features for various Apple Watch models
Alex Alderson, 2022-09-13 (Update: 2022-09-13)