Apple will officially announce its next major software update for Apple Watch in less than a month. Coming at WWDC on June 5, watchOS 10 is rumored to pack a number of major changes and new features, including a major rethink of how users access information from different apps and services.
watchOS 10: What new features are coming?
watchOS 10 is expected to pack a number of significant changes, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The ace Apple reporter has described the update as being a “fairly extensive upgrade” focused on “notable changes to the user interface.”
Notably, the focus on Apple Watch software comes during a year in which Apple Watch hardware is mostly expected to stay the same. While the Apple Watch Series 9 coming this fall might feature improved performance for the first time in several years, there are no other major hardware changes rumored. This suggests Apple’s goal for this year is to keep Apple Watch users excited with changes to software rather than hardware.
As for what exactly is in store for watchOS 10 this year in terms of new features, one area of focus will be a new reliance on widgets. According to Bloomberg, watchOS 10 will include a newfound focus on widgets as a “central part” of the Apple Watch’s interface.
As part of this focus on widgets, Bloomberg has said that watchOS 10 might even change the function of the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown. In the current version of watchOS, pressing the Digital Crown takes you to the Apple Watch’s home screen. In watchOS 10, however, Apple is testing having the Digital Crown open up the new widgets interface instead.
If this new widget system sounds familiar, it’s because it’s similar to the “Glances” feature of the first Apple Watch. The idea of Glances, which Apple removed in watchOS 3, was to give users easy access to bits of information from different apps and services. The feature, however, was killed off as Apple tried (and failed) to push standalone apps instead.
So, why is Apple once again trying to make widgets on the Apple Watch a thing? The reasoning is likely two-fold:
- Over the years, there’s been a steady decline in the number of standalone Apple Watch apps. Companies ranging from Facebook to Uber and many others have discontinued their Apple Watch apps entirely.
- Now that widgets are widely supported on the iPhone and iPad Home Screens, it will be far easier for developers to bring their existing widgets to Apple Watch. Presumably, widgets on the Apple Watch will be powered by the same WidgetKit framework that powers widgets on iPhone and iPad. In theory, this means it will be relatively straightforward for developers to bring their existing widget structure to Apple Watch.
Looking beyond widgets, there are a couple of other things that Apple is working on this year that will likely have an impact on watchOS 10. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is working on a new journaling app for iOS 17. This app will likely have at least some sort of integration with Apple Watch.
One leaker on Twitter, who has since deleted their account, also claimed that watchOS 10 will include support for folders on the Home Screen.
At WWDC this year, Apple is also expected to preview its new mixed-reality headset after years of development. The headset is expected to offer a number of features, including fitness and mediation, that could tie in nicely with existing Apple Watch features.
Finally, Bloomberg has also reported that Apple is developing new mood and emotion tracking features. One would think that these features will be available on Apple Watch, even if it’s just in the form of rich notifications of some sort.
One thing that remains unclear is which Apple Watch models will support watchOS 10. Last year’s release of watchOS 9 dropped support for the Apple Watch Series 3. Whether or not Apple has plans to drop the Apple Watch Series 4 this year remains to be seen.
watchOS 10 is set for an official announcement at WWDC, which kicks off on June 5. The company will release the first developer beta that same day, followed by a public beta sometime in July, and a release to the general public in September. We’ve got more details on the specific timelines in our dedicated watchOS 10 roundup.
What are you most excited to see in watchOS 10 this year? Do you think a shift to focusing on widgets will be an improvement for Apple Watch software? Let us know in the comments below.