watchOS 8 beta hands-on: subtle but useful changes

along with iOS 15 and watchOS 8 public betas are now available for testing, It’s time for us to understand some of the features of Apple’s largest platform in spite of The next watchOS May not be as significant as iOS 15, it does bring new health and fitness tools, as well as tighter iPhone integration.

If you want to view the public beta version yourself, make sure you have considered the risks of running the preview version of the software.If you have Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, and running an iPhone, those who can’t wait to wait for a stable public version of the upcoming platform can sign up for Apple’s beta program and install these versions immediately iOS 15 beta.

Mindfulness, health and fitness

Apple’s new health-centric features may interest those seeking a more comprehensive approach to health. The company has renamed its Breathe app to Mindfulness, adding a meditation guide to existing breathing exercises. You can set the duration of each mindfulness course from 1 to 5 minutes. A prompt will appear before each conversation to help you focus, and a button to start.

So far, I have seen typical meditation prompts that tell you to pay attention to your thoughts and let them pass without judgment. Some other examples include “Think about the people you care about. Imagine you can feel your connection to them” and “Consider the values ​​that are important to you in the things you care about.”

Then, a colorful rotating animation occupies the screen. At this point, I usually just lean back and close my eyes, but if you continue to stare at the watch, animation is a great way to distract and almost hypnotizes. When your time is up, the watch will vibrate and display ending thoughts related to the opening prompt, such as “Bring this open awareness.” You will also see your heart rate and total mindfulness time of the day (including the time spent doing breathing Practice time). After two mindfulness training sessions, my Apple Watch SE said that my pulse dropped from 64bpm to 47bpm, which I think is great.

Cherylnn Low / Engadget

Sometimes it feels like a glorious timer, encountering fortune cookies, encountering Magic 8 Ball, all of which are set to Windows Media Player visualizationBut combined with all-day reminders that you can customize, mindfulness can be a valuable tool for checking yourself and your mental state.

Some other health-centric additions to watchOS include two new exercise categories: Tai Chi and Pilates. I haven’t done any exercises yet, so I can’t say how accurately Apple tracks these. There are some functions that I need more time to get a better feeling, such as night breathing rate tracking and walking stability. The latter takes about two weeks of walking time and hides the iPhone somewhere in the body, so I need some time to get the results.

Messaging, new applications and integration with iPhone

A large part of the watchOS 8 update is improved communication tools and integration with the iPhone. It’s worth noting that the Messaging app now allows you to create with graffiti, dictation, and emoji on the same screen. I scribbled part of a message, dictated the longer part, and easily added emoji from one page. Editing is not as troublesome as before, thanks in large part to the ability to use the Digital Crown to control the cursor. Hallelujah! It’s much easier to scroll backwards to insert spaces or to fix complicated “v”s.

In addition. There is now a new option to send GIFs in messages, from the same place where Digital Touch was sent (just click the search glass button and enter your keywords).

You can now communicate with people more easily with the new address book app, which allows you to find specific friends faster. If you set one of iOS 15’s new focus modes on your iPhone, the same settings will be applied to your watch. Blocked people and applications will remain silent on your wrist, and the symbol at the top of the screen indicates which focus mode is active.

Contacts is not the only new application of watchOS 8. Apple has also redesigned Home to make it easier to interact with connected devices and bring “Find Items,” “Find Devices,” and “Tips” to your wrist. The new operating system will also add support for ultra-wideband to achieve more accurate car key functions, such as space perception. In addition, the update also allows you to use the watch as a key for hotels and offices other than homes and cars, although it naturally only works with compatible buildings and locks. I haven’t had the opportunity to test these features.

Five Apple Watches showcased various new features of watchOS 8. From left to right, the displayed functions are: information, photo application, portrait dial, photo application and composing message.


Like the corresponding app on iOS, the watchOS wallet app will also support adding your driver’s license, and when it is more widely launched, you can use it in participating states and institutions in the United States. In addition to the privacy and security issues surrounding Apple storing your ID on your device, there are also questions about the possibility that law enforcement officials or various authorities will welcome these digital cards. But this is not something I can test with this preview version, because this feature is currently not accepted in most places.

Portrait dial, multiple timers and Fitness+

In addition, I tried some other new features on the watchOS 8 beta: a vertical dial and multiple timers. Similar to the previous method of creating photo faces for Apple Watch, click “Share” on the picture on the iPhone, and then click “Create Watch Face”. If you want to get an artificial depth of field effect on your wrist, you need to choose an image taken with the portrait mode of your phone. When you rotate the watch dial, the effect is animated. Currently, there are only three clock styles available for these, and I find “modern” the least offensive. You can also add a single complex function to a portrait face.

As for multiple timers: it works. I set a three-minute countdown, then hit back and set another minute. Both of them left smoothly. Interestingly, something as simple as this requires eight full updates to get, but at least it is here. Those who use the Apple Watch cooking timer will love this watch.

Finally, this is not a watchOS update, but because you need An Apple Watch uses Fitness+, and the two are intertwined. When you use Fitness+ on your iPhone or iPad, you can now watch exercise videos in picture-in-picture mode. I can also pinch to zoom to adjust the size of the panels overlaid on other applications.

wrap up

This is not the biggest update of watchOS, but Apple has made some subtle improvements to its communications app and has also strengthened its integration with the iPhone. I also appreciate people’s different views on health and well-being. There are more features to test, such as walking stability and ID support, but now the beta version of watchOS 8 feels very thoughtful. If it is small, update it.

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