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watchOS 10: The top features heading to Apple Watches

The previewed software has a whole new look.
August 30, 2023
An Apple Watch Ultra in a user's hand displays the Apple logo.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Right on schedule, a new and improved watchOS 10 experience is expected to hit Apple’s smartwatches this fall. The software update is expected to arrive alongside a new Apple Watch Series 9 and a second-generation Apple Watch Ultra. Apple offered a preview of the new software at WWDC 2023 in early June, highlighting many of the top features users will find on board. From stacked widgets to fresh faces, find out what Apple has in store via watchOS 10.

What’s new in watchOS 10?

WatchOS 10 will usher in a revamped user experience with a renewed focus on widgets and redesigned apps. According to an official invite from the company, the Apple summer event will take place on September 12 making the watchOS 10 release date increasingly imminent. The upgrade is set to bring key improvements to some of the device’s most popular health and fitness tracking areas of focus, including cycling, hiking, and mental health.

We were already fans of the software experience we tested during our Apple Watch Series 8 review, but upgrades are always welcome. If Apple can pair the updates below with a better battery life, we’d be over the moon.

New look and navigation

WatchOS 10 on Apple Watch 3

In a classic comeback story, widgets will make their way to the Apple Watch, ousting the current Glances model. In what Apple has dubbed Smart Stack, watch widgets will appear on screen with the turn of your digital crown, displaying pertinent information upfront. Users can then turn the crown to scroll through their widgets and tap for more information as needed. Like the crown, the side button will also get a new role. The button will take users to the Control Center with a single push.

Once you’re in the thick of a favorite app, you’ll also notice an updated look. Apple claims nearly all apps will receive an updated look that better utilizes the full display. This means more information on the screen at a time to do the things you need from your wrist.

Mental and vision health tools

Apple watchOS 10 mental health

Mental health is too often overlooked and Apple aims to help. Via watchOS 10, users will be able to log their daily moods in order to keep up with their emotional well-being. Over in the Health app, you can then check in on how your logged moods correlate to lifestyle factors including sleep, exercise, and time spent outside.

In a related move, Apple announced that the ambient light sensors on compatible watches will also be able to measure time spent in daylight. This, the company claims, can help parents reduce the risk of nearsightedness by making sure children spend enough time outdoors.

Fitness tracking improvements

Apple watchOS 10 cycling

Given that fitness tracking is one of the device’s most popular uses, it’s no surprise that watchOS 10 will introduce updates to the Apple Watch workout experience as well.

  • Cycling: Last year brought a useful multi-sport tracking mode to the Apple Watch. This year, the company is leaning in a little more by offering cyclists new metrics with compatible accessories including speed, cadence, and power. The watch will also display Power Zones during workouts. If you want your info on a larger screen, starting a cycling workout will even initiate the option to display live metrics on your paired iPhone.
  • Apple Fitness+: Apple Fitness+ is also scheduled to see an update. Thanks to watchOS 10, the subscription service will soon be able to create custom training plans.

Apple Watch Ultra

Apple Watch Ultra watchOS 10

We’ve been hoping to see fun updates to navigation and mapping ever since our Apple Watch Ultra review. For adventurers, watchOS 10 features a new, information-packed 3D compass view with elevation details and markers for cellular reception. The compass will even highlight possible locations for making an emergency call. For hikers, Apple is adding access to US trail information including trail names, length, elevation, difficulty, and more. Once out on a hike, Ultra users will be able to tap into topographic maps to view elevation, contour lines, and points of interest. New Elevation alerts will even let you know when you’ve reached specific heights as well.

Other new features

  • Workout APIs: Popular training apps will be able to leverage the powerful sensors found in newer Apple Watches to build new tools for sports like golf and tennis. These apps will also be able to import scheduled workouts into the Workout app.
  • Message playback: Apple Watch users will be able to view recovered FaceTime video messages right on their wrists.
  • Follow-up medication reminders: This feature will send interested users a second reminder when they haven’t logged a scheduled medication or supplement.
  • Offline maps: Via iOS 17, users will be able to download maps to their iPhones and then view and use those maps to navigate on an Apple Watch when their iPhone is in range.
  • Enterprise: WatchOS 10 will introduce new employee wellness and productivity features including the ability to configure VPNs.
  • NameDrop: Users will be able to easily share contact information by tapping My Card and bringing two Apple Watches face to face.

Which watches can access watchOS 10?

An Apple Watch Series 7 checks for available software updates while resting on its charger.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Once the software is released, it will roll back to the  following Apple Watch models:

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 8
  • Apple Watch Ultra

Will watchOS 10 introduce new watch faces?

Apple watchOS 10 faces

It wouldn’t be a new OS without a new watch face (or two). WatchOS 10 will bring beloved characters to users’ wrists in an animated Peanuts watch face featuring Snoopy and Woodstock. Meanwhile, Palette will offer a calmer, hue-based experience that depicts the time in shifts of color.