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watchOS 8 release date, features, beta and Apple Watch compatibility

At the WWDC 2021 keynote, Apple revealed watchOS 8, its upcoming update for its Apple Watch operating system. While we likely won’t see it...

At the WWDC 2021 keynote, Apple revealed watchOS 8, its upcoming update for its Apple Watch operating system. While we likely won’t see its full release until September or October when we expect the Apple Watch 7 to launch, eager adopters can sign up for the watchOS 8 beta now.

The watchOS 8 update brings a new Mindfulness app, sleep app updates to track Respiratory Rate, Fitness Plus updates, and more.

While we don't expect watchOS 8 to publicly launch until later in the year, Apple did announce a developer beta at WWDC 2021. Presumably, a public beta will follow, but we haven't heard about when that will be.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next major Apple Watch software update
  • When is it out? Probably September, following a June 7 unveiling
  • How much will it cost? It will be free

watchOS 8 release date

watchOS 8 will probably land in September, as that’s when new versions tend to land, typically alongside new hardware, with the Apple Watch 7 and the iPhone 13 expected this year.

However, although it probably won’t be finished and released until then, watchOS 8 was announced a lot earlier. Apple often unveils new watchOS software during its annual WWDC event, which this year is being held between June 7 and June 11, and the operating system update was indeed announced during the event's keynote.

With watchOS 8 unveiled at WWDC 2021, a developer beta was launched around the same time, and public betas following. Of course, some features might not be revealed until a lot closer to the launch of the finished software.

watchOS 8 compatibility

We don’t have any official details on watchOS 8 compatibility yet, but watchOS 7 is available for all models from the Apple Watch 3 onwards. So if any models are dropped for the new software it would likely be the Apple Watch 3.

That said, Apple still sells the Apple Watch 3, and dropping support for a product that’s still on sale in the same year probably wouldn’t be popular, so we'll likely see watchOS 8 available for all the same Apple Watch models as watchOS 7.

watchOS 8 updates

The watchOS 8 update adds several smaller features, all augmenting how you normally use your Apple Watches. 

The new Mindfulness app includes the 'Breathe' activity with other reminders to take breaks. Sleep tracking now monitors a new metric – respiratory rate.

The Workout app includes two new activities – Tai Chi and Pilates. There's also more workouts in Apple Fitness Plus, as well as workouts keyed to specific music artists.

A new Portraits watch face lets you turn your Portrait-mode photos into watch faces and twist the crown to alter depth. 

Messages also gets more granular controls, like twisting the crown to move the cursor and even the capability to search and reply with GIFs.



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