Apple watchOS 8 release date, features, news and rumours

(Pocket-lint) – Apple tends to release one major software update a year for iPhone, iPad and Watch, with smaller updates pushed throughout the year.

The next big update for Apple Watch is expected to be watchOS 8. Here is everything we have heard so far, coupled with some of the features we want to see.

watchOS 8 release date

  • Some features announced at WWDC
  • Public release likely September 2021

Apple will hold its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) between 7 June and 11 June 2021. 

Traditionally, the company reveals some of the new features users can get excited about for iPhone, iPad and Watch during the conference so we expect to learn some of what watchOS 8 will bring then.

Following the conference, we expect a developer beta of the watchOS 8 software to be made available, with the public release then coming early September, around the time the Apple Watch Series 7 is expected.

watchOS 8 features

  • Blood glucose monitoring
  • Explorer focussed feature
  • AssistiveTouch

There haven’t been a huge amount of rumours relating to what watchOS 8 could bring as yet, though as mentioned above, we expect to find out a couple of the features coming later this year, during WWDC in June.

There has been some talk of blood glucose and alcohol monitoring coming to the next Apple Watch, which would of course see some form of app or feature added to the fitness app on the Apple Watch if this came to fruition.

There’s also been talk of a more rugged Apple Watch model, which could suggest some extra workout options, like climbing, for instance. 

Other rumours have claimed the Apple Watch might be able to detect the type of water you may have fallen into, assessing your situation and determining if the authorities need to be alerted should the GPS detect you’re in deep water, for example.

Apple is also bringing AssistiveTouch for watchOS that will enable users with upper body limb differences to use Apple Watch without having to touch the display or controls, but this may appear in an update before watchOS 8.

watchOS 8 what we want to see

Here are a few things we’d like to see the watchOS 8 software build offer:

  • Better, more advanced sleep tracking
  • More workout options
  • Extra fitness and health features, like blood glucose monitoring
  • More audio fitness, like interval training
  • Fitness recovery features, like Garmin’s Body Battery 
  • Custom watch faces
  • Stress management features, like Fitbit Sense
  • More unlocking functionality, like car

watchOS 8 compatibility: Which Apple Watches will be supported?

All Apple Watches from the Series 3 and newer are supported by watchOS 7. At the moment, there are no rumours to suggest Apple is planning to drop support for any models, and given it still sells the Series 3, it would be surprising to see watchOS 8 not supported by it, though it is of course possible that will happen.

For now though, we expect these models to support watchOS 8:

  • Apple Watch Series 3
  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE

watchOS 8 rumours: What’s happened so far?

Here’s everything we have heard so far about potential software features coming to the Apple Watch.

3 May 2021: Will the next Apple Watch read blood sugar and alcohol levels? Possibly

A major feature coming to the Apple Watch could have been revealed in an SEC filing for UK-based startup Rockley Photonics.

Rockley Photonics designs sensors for monitoring a person’s blood using infrared light. The sensors could be used for monitoring blood glucose and alcohol levels. 

26 March 2021: Apple considering 2021 launch for ‘Explorer Edition’ Watch designed for extreme conditions and athletes

A report from Bloomberg suggested Apple is considering the launch of an all-new Apple Watch model designed for athletes, hikers and those who would use the smartwatch in extreme environments. It is said to launch in 2021 or 2022 and possibly offer a rubberised case.

15 February 2021: No glucose monitoring coming to Series 7 after all

Leaker Max Weinbach dispelled rumours that the Apple Watch Series 7 would feature glucose monitoring. It was a feature previously reported, but Weinbach claimed it isn’t coming yet.

16 April 2020: Could a future Apple watch detect if you’ve fallen into a river?

According to an Apple patent, a future Apple Watch could detect the type of water its in and therefore assess if you’ve fallen into a river or the sea and then assess your situation. For example, if your watch’s GPS assesses you’re in deep water it could be set to alert authorities. 


Best Apple Watch apps 2021: 43 apps to download that actually do something

16 January 2019: Three big health features rumoured

The Fast Company reported that Apple has hired numerous clinicians and engineers to work on health features for the Apple Watch, which are said to include blood pressure, blood glucose or diabetes management and sleep tracking or science. Given these didn’t appear on the Series 6, perhaps they are destined for the Series 7?

Writing by Britta O’Boyle.





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