Six New Apple Watch Features Coming Later This Year
With new Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8 models now in the hands of customers, Apple has brought a host of smart new features to many people's wrists. But there's more to come.
Apple has a handful of additional features in store for Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra owners before the year's end, and some of them are watchOS 9 functions, which means they will even work on older Apple Watch models, too. Here's what we can expect.
1. Track Detection
Apple will soon introduce a new Track running experience that automatically detects when you arrive at a running track, and combines Apple Maps data with GPS to provide a more accurate route map – including an option to choose your lane – and more accurate pace and distance metrics. Apple says Track Detection is coming later this year to the United States via a software update for Apple Watch Series 4 and later models.
2. Race Route
A new Workout feature especially for runners, Race Route enables you to race against your best or last result on any frequently completed routes. The feature will also offer in-session pacing guidance to keep your progress competitive. Apple says Race Route is coming later this year to Apple Watch Series 4 and later.
3. International Roaming
For cellular Apple Watch models, Apple will soon be introducing support for international roaming. Apple says it has agreements with 30 carrier partners to support the feature, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in the U.S., Three and O2 in the U.K., and international carriers including China Mobile, Movistar, and Softbank. Apple says international roaming will be available by the end of this year for Apple Watch Series 5 and later cellular models.
4. Family Setup – Home App Support
Coming to Family Setup is support for the Home app, which will allow a child to be invited as a member to control HomePod speakers and smart home accessories. As a result of the additional support, kids will also be able to use home keys and hotel keys in Apple Wallet.
The feature depends on Apple's new Home architecture, a separate update in the Home app, and will be available in a software update later this year. Note that sharing control of your home and receiving Home notifications require a home hub, and only Apple TV and HomePod are supported as home hubs in iOS 16.
5. Oceanic+ App (Apple Watch Ultra)
Developed by Apple in conjunction with third-party outfit Huish Outdoors, Oceanic+ is a built-in Dive computer specifically designed for Apple Watch Ultra models. As a free app on the App Store, Oceanic+ will include depth tracking (including depth alarms), GPS tracking, logbook (up to 12 dives), snorkeling, and more.
For more advanced diving options such as No Decompression Limit, users will be required to purchase an Oceanic+ subscription plan ($4.99/day, $9.99/month, or $79/year). Oceanic+ will be available on the App Store later this fall.
6. Low Power Mode (Apple Watch Ultra)
Apple Watch Ultra has the best battery life of any Apple Watch, capable of reaching up to 36 hours during normal use. However, Apple has a new low-power setting in the works that can extend battery life to reach up to 60 hours on a single charge.
Apple says this projected battery life is based on the following usage while in Low Power Mode and with workout settings enabled for fewer heart rate and GPS readings: 15 hours of workout, over 600 time checks, 35 minutes of app use, 3 minutes of talk, and 15 hours of sleep tracking, over the course of 60 hours. Apple says the low-power setting with reduced frequency of GPS and heart rate readings will be available later this fall.