watchOS 8 brings new health and messaging features to the Apple Watch this year

watchOS 8 brings new health and messaging features to the Apple Watch this year

On Monday, Apple detailed its plans for watchOS 8, the next major software update for the Apple Watch. The operating system will introduce improved texting and photo sharing, new HomeKit integrations, and some smaller updates to health and fitness features.

The Apple Watch’s Breathe app has new animations and adds “Reflect,” which gives you mindfulness prompts to accompany a calming animation while you reflect. These new features are found under the new Mindfulness app.

In Fitness, Apple is adding two new workouts: Tai Chi and Pilates. Apple Fitness+ adds another set of workouts focused on HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The feature will also include Artist Spotlights, which suggests music to aid your workout. watchOS8 will also add respiratory-rate tracking to sleep, but not workouts.

Watch faces have a new option for portrait pictures, which shows a portrait’s depth and allows you to scroll in on the subject in a sort of parallax effect, using the digital crown. A new mosaic layout in the Apple Watch’s Photos app allows you to more easily browse photos on your wrist, as this can be a rather cumbersome task. From there, you can tap to send photos in a text or email. Text selection and a cursor have also been added so you can replace or edit text using the crown to move the cursor and your finger to tap and select. Emojis are also now more easily accessible to sprinkle into your messages.

New HomeKit integrations allow you to see who’s at your door when the doorbell rings or get a notification when a package arrives.

watchOS 8 will be available in beta starting July and comes to supported Apple Watch devices this fall.

This story is developing. Follow along with our WWDC 2021 liveblog for real-time updates.

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