The newest version of Apple’s smartwatch OS is available now ahead of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 release on Friday.
Along with iOS 17, Apple has just released watchOS 10, the newest version of its smartwatch operating system that fundamentally changes the way you interact with the Apple Watch by reincorporating widgets. This update, available on the Apple Watch Series 4 and up, comes just a few days ahead of the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra, both of which Apple will release on Friday along with the four new iPhone 15 models.
The new widgets include the Smart Stack that Apple added to iOS 14, which is a sort of customizable widget bundle that uses machine learning to surface the widgets it predicts you’ll want to see and use. Swiping up from the bottom brings up those widgets, and that has a big cascading effect on the OS. Control Center, where you go to toggle certain system settings like Wi-Fi, has been bumped over to the side button, which bumps the app switcher to a double-press on the digital crown.
In her preview of watchOS 10, my colleague Victoria Song said these and other tweaks made for a “change in the way I interact with and think about my Apple Watch.” She writes that widgets put key activity information behind a simple swipe, freeing her from worrying about which watchface gives her the most information when she raises her wrist. It also reduces scrolling.
The company also made some changes to how the app grid shows up — instead of a big honeycomb grid that you swipe around on, the grid is now a strip that you can scroll up and down, with larger icons, making it easier to see and tap the apps you want. Apple also made some improvements to cycling workouts, like sending a live activity to your phone when you begin one for easy checks when your iPhone is mounted to your handlebars.
The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 will get exclusive features like an updated ultra wideband chip that will enable an AirTag-style Find My function for finding your iPhone 15, as well as on-device Siri processing. Apple says the Siri upgrade will let you ask Siri on your watch about personal Apple Health data that wasn’t accessible through the watch previously.
Update September 18th, 1:15PM ET: Added a link to Apple’s press release.