What just happened? On Monday, Apple launched its latest operating systems for the iPhone and Apple Watch. The iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 aren’t expected to ship until Friday, giving customers a few days to take a look at iOS 16 and watchOS 9 before picking up their new devices.
Of course, you don’t need to buy a new Apple device to take advantage of most of the features of either new system software. However, keep in mind that, as always, compatibility is limited. For iPhone users, iOS 16 supports iPhone 8 and later. Apple Watch customers must have Series 4 or newer for watchOS 9.
To download and install iOS 16 on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update, then click Download and Install. To update your Apple Watch, make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS. Then open the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap General > Software Update. From there, click Download and Install.
If you don’t see iOS 16 or watchOS 9 as the latest version, don’t panic. Apple always staggers operating system deployments to manage server loads. Give it a day if you don’t have access to it yet.
We’ve covered WWDC22, so there’s not much from iOS 16 that we didn’t already know was coming. Apple spent a lot of time in R&D completely redesigning the lock screen to take advantage of the always-on display of the iPhone 14 Pro. From wallpapers that create an illusion of depth to notifications that “roll” from the bottom of the screen. Users can cycle through saved wallpapers with just a swipe and even pin a specific focus mode to them. The iPhone idle lock screen is anything but idle.
Apple has also improved some standard iOS features such as Messages, which allow users to edit and unsend texts. This feature initially sparked a bit of controversy from watchdog groups fearing it would facilitate online harassment and harassment by bad actors. However, Cupertino quelled the uproar by imposing time and editing limits. Other expected features include security keys for Safari, productivity tools for Mail, improvements to iOS 15’s Live Text feature, new accessibility options, and more.
Where Apple spent a lot of time on aesthetics with iOS, most of watchOS 9’s features focus on health and wellness. For example, the developers have heavily modified the Workout app to allow users to access much more information. The Apple Watch’s Digital Crown can now cycle through various metrics, including workout views, heart rate zones, and more. Custom workouts allow users to easily program their routines, including work and recovery intervals.
The Apple Watch can now determine the type of exercise you do. Cupertino touted the feature as a great way for triathletes and duathletes to automatically track every leg of their workout without needing to touch the watch — it just “knows” if you’re swimming, biking, or running.
Users can also monitor other areas of their health. Improved sleep tracking has expanded metrics showing stages of sleep – awake, REM, heart and deep sleep. The watch can now save and display an AFib history, which is valuable information for people with the condition. A new Medications app lets users set reminders and see interactions for medications they’re taking.
Of course, there are also new non-health-related additions to watchOS. Apple has designed new faces and complications. Watch faces can also have up to eight complications running at once. Of course, more features can also reduce battery life. So the developers added a new low-power mode that can almost double the battery life (30 hours on the 8-series and 60 hours on the Ultra). It will also stay in sync with the focus mode selected on the iPhone.
Both operating systems also have bug fixes and security updates. So even if you’re not interested in new features, it’s still important to keep your operating systems up to date. You can check out all the details on the iOS 16 and watchOS 9 release notes pages.