Apple unveils watchOS 8 public beta replete with new features
Hot on the heels of the iOS 15 public beta version, Apple has released a beta version of its newest smartwatch operating system, watchOS 8. The annual update packs new features such as improvised messaging tools, Portraits watch face, and a Mindfulness app seen at the company's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) last month. A stable version is expected this fall. Here are more details.
AssistiveTouch feels intuitive to use, includes customizable actions
The update to watchOS 8 will be available for older hardware, including the Apple Watch Series 3 and later. First off, Apple's new accessibility feature called AssistiveTouch, first unveiled in May, allows the disabled to interact with the watch's user interface using pinch and fist clench gestures. CNET reported that AssistiveTouch feels intuitive and the ability to customize gesture actions is an added plus.
iOS 15's Focus mode conveniently syncs with watchOS 8
Another productivity improvement in watchOS 8 comes in the form of the new Contacts app that lets you add, edit, share, and browse contacts directly using your wearable. Also, watchOS 8 works harmoniously with Focus mode settings on your iPhone running iOS 15. The watch will notify you only if your active Focus mode profile settings allow it to.
Portraits watch face features some clever inclusions, Digital Crown implementations
In the cosmetics department, if the plethora of available watch faces leaves you wanting more, watchOS 8's Portraits watch face uses the depth data from the photograph to display the time behind the subject's head. Battery levels and heart rate metrics can be added to the watch face as well. CNET observed that spinning the Digital Crown also varies how much the subject pops.
New workout modes added, Mindfulness to help you stay focused
As seen at WWDC, the new Pilates and Tai Chi workout modes are available in the watchOS 8 public beta. Meanwhile, the Breathe app and a new Reflect app are available under the Mindfulness app with the central idea of calming you down and helping you focus. Sleep tracking has a new respiration rate metric besides existing parameters like heart rate and time asleep.
WatchOS 8's messaging app includes tools for dictation, scribbling, emojis
The watchOS 8 Messages app reportedly allows you to use the scribble tool, the dictation tool, and the emoji picker from the same screen. Additionally, if the dictation tool makes an error, you can use the watch's Digital Crown to correct the selected word. Support for GIFs is available as well. Soon, watchOS 8's Wallet app will reportedly let you store digital ID cards.
UWB-compatible Apple watches will soon be able to unlock cars
CNET reported that Apple Watches with hardware-level Ultra-Wideband (UWB) support will let you remotely unlock and start your car (from some makes and models) without the need for a key fob. The feature is expected to roll out later this year. Meanwhile, watchOS 8's public beta doesn't yet show signs of features like Walking Steadiness and Family Sharing, which were announced at WWDC 2021.