watchOS
The word "watchOS" in black San Francisco neo-grotesque sans-serif font.
WatchOS 6 screenshot.jpg
A customized watch face on watchOS 6
DeveloperApple Inc.
Written in
OS family
Working stateCurrent
Source modelClosed, with open-source components
Initial releaseApril 24, 2015; 7 years ago (2015-04-24)
Latest release8.6[1] (19T572)[2] (May 16, 2022; 2 days ago (2022-05-16)) [±]
Latest preview8.7 beta[3] (19U5027c)[4] (May 18, 2022; 0 days ago (2022-05-18)) [±]
Marketing targetSmartwatch
Available in45 languages[5][6]
Update methodOTA (via iPhone 5+ running iOS 8.2+)
Platforms
Kernel typeHybrid (XNU)
Default
user interface
Cocoa Touch (GUI)
LicenseProprietary software except for open-source components
Official websitewww.apple.com/watchos/

watchOS is the operating system of the Apple Watch, developed by Apple Inc. It is based on iOS, the operating system used by the iPhone and iPod Touch, and has many similar features.[7] It was released on April 24, 2015, along with the Apple Watch, the only device that runs watchOS. watchOS exposes an API called WatchKit for developer use.

The second version, watchOS 2, included support for native third-party apps and other improvements, and was released on September 21, 2015.[8][9][10] The third version, watchOS 3, was released on September 13, 2016, to emphasize better performance and include new watch faces and stock apps. The fourth version, watchOS 4, was released on September 19, 2017. The fifth version, watchOS 5, was released on September 17, 2018,[11] to add more third-party support and new workouts, along with the "Walkie-Talkie" feature.[12] The sixth version, watchOS 6, was released on September 19, 2019.[13] The seventh version, watchOS 7, was released on September 16, 2020, to support handwashing and sleep tracking.[14][15] The eighth version, watchOS 8, was released on September 20, 2021, with updates in health monitoring, visuals, and apps.[16]

Interface overview

The home screen (rendered by and also known as "Carousel")[7] is composed of circular application icons, which can be zoomed in and out with the Digital Crown and dragged and launched by touching the display.

Prior to watchOS 3, Glances provided fast access to a summarized view of the most popular native or third-party applications used on Apple Watch.[17] The Glances view was opened with a swipe-up gesture from the watch face screen. With watchOS 3, Glances were replaced by a redesigned Control Center – much like the one in iOS. The friends menu, invoked with the side button, now acts as a dedicated dock for apps.

Different actions and options appear depending on whether the user taps or deep-presses, which an Apple Watch detects with its pressure-sensitive (Force Touch) Display.[18] Force Touch was completely removed in watchOS 7, and all actions requiring the feature were moved to specific options in the Settings app or to long-press actions.[19]

Supported health metrics

Since its inception, watchOS has supported an increasing number and variety of health metrics for measurement and tracking. These include:

HealthKit

Main article: HealthKit

For several years, Apple has been developing its HealthKit product in a bid to change the way people interact with their devices. There is also a conscious attempt to penetrate the lucrative healthcare and wellness industry, which many observers believe to hold a huge growth opportunity for Apple.[28] This was confirmed by Jony Ive, Apple's former chief designer, in an interview. He said that health was a crucial element in the Apple Watch since the day of its inception and that the developmental trajectory of the hardware and the watchOS were geared towards health-based capabilities.[29] Ive pointed out that one of the primary apps that shipped with the first watchOS allowed users to track and communicate as well as encourage them to move, exercise, and stand. He said:

Many of us have our phones with us all the time, but they aren't connected to you. Imagine having something this powerful with you at all times, and what opportunities that might present to the user. The opportunity is phenomenal. Particularly when [you] don't understand just where we are today in terms of technology and capability, but where we are headed.[29]

One of the most recent updates to the watchOS included applications that not only keep users active but also diagnose illnesses. For example, there is the app called DeepHeart, a deep-learning network that can detect atrial fibrillation, hypertension, sleep apnea, and diabetes.[30] It taps into the HealthKit platform to collect data, particularly those collected by the Apple Watch's heart sensor.[31]

Version history

Current watchOS versions
Version Build Architecture Release date Device end-of-life
iPhone Apple Watch
3.2.3 14V753 32-bit ARM July 19, 2017 5, 5C N/A
4.3.2 15U70 July 9, 2018 N/A 1st
5.3.9 16U693 32/64-bit ARM November 5, 2020 5S, 6, 6 Plus N/A
6.3 17U208 December 14, 2020 N/A Series 1, Series 2
8.6 19T572 May 16, 2022 N/A N/A
Legend:   Obsolete   Discontinued   Supported   Current   Beta
Legend:   Obsolete   Discontinued   Supported   Current   Beta

watchOS 1

watchOS 1 was the first version of watchOS to be released. It came with iOS 8.2, instead of the initial release.

The first version of watchOS 1 was 1.0 and was based on iOS 8.2. The second version of watchOS 1 was 1.0.1 and was based on iOS 8.3.

watchOS 2

watchOS 3

watchOS 4

watchOS 5

watchOS 5 was first shown to the public at the San Jose WWDC developer conference held by Apple. It had an instant watch-to-watch Walkie-Talkie mode.[42] With this release, Apple dropped support for the first generation Apple Watch.

watchOS 6

Apple announced a new version of watchOS that would contain features such as the App Store, a calculator with tip tools, an audiobooks app, noise level monitoring, and Apple's Voice Memos app.[52][53][54] It also enables special games that can only be played on the Watch interface. However, watchOS 6 has limited support on Apple Watch Series 1 and 2.

watchOS 7

Apple announced watchOS 7 at the 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference on June 22, 2020. With watchOS 7, Apple dropped support for Apple Watch Series 1 and 2. However, watchOS 7 has limited support on Apple Watch Series 3.

watchOS 8

Apple announced watchOS 8 at the 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference on June 7, 2021. Apple Watch models supporting watchOS 7 can also support watchOS 8. However, like watchOS 7, watchOS 8 has limited support on Apple Watch Series 3.

Table of versions: watchOS 8.x – Apple Watch
  • Series 7

Limited support on the Apple Watch Series 3.

watchOS version iOS version based on Build Release date Features
8.0 15.0 19R343 Preinstalled Apple Watch Series 7 (GPS + Cellular) only
19R346 September 20, 2021; 7 months ago (2021-09-20)
8.0.1 15.0.2 19R354 October 11, 2021; 7 months ago (2021-10-11)
8.1 15.1 19R570 October 25, 2021; 6 months ago (2021-10-25)
8.1.1 19R580 November 18, 2021; 6 months ago (2021-11-18) Apple Watch Series 7 (GPS + Cellular) only
8.3 15.2 19S55 December 13, 2021; 5 months ago (2021-12-13)
8.4 15.3 19S546 January 26, 2022; 3 months ago (2022-01-26)
8.4.1 19S550 February 1, 2022; 3 months ago (2022-02-01) Apple Watch Series 4 or later only
8.4.2 15.3.1 19S553 February 10, 2022; 3 months ago (2022-02-10)
8.5 15.4 19T242 March 14, 2022; 2 months ago (2022-03-14)
8.5.1 15.4.1 19T252 March 31, 2022; 48 days ago (2022-03-31)
8.6 15.5 19T572 May 16, 2022; 2 days ago (2022-05-16)
8.7 beta 15.6 beta 19U5027c May 18, 2022; 0 days ago (2022-05-18)

See also

References

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