Apple’s watchOS 9 brings a number of new features to Apple Watch users like an improved Workout app, more data from the Sleep app, and a new Medications app.
But there is more than meets the eye with the new update for Apple Watch users. Here are some watchOS 9 hidden features you might not have heard about.
1. Low Power Mode
While Apple has improved the overall hardware and software experience with each generation, battery life has always stayed the same 18 hours of use before needing to be recharged. But the new Low Power Mode in watchOS 9 changes that.
With the feature turned on, and your iPhone nearby, you can squeeze up to 36 hours of use. To turn the Low Power Mode, swipe up to see the Control Center. Select the battery percentage and then toggle on Low Power Mode. There’s much more you can access in Control Center, make sure to take a look at how to use and customize the area.
Just to note, some Apple Watch features like the Always-On Display and background heart rate monitoring will be disabled.
Starting in late 2022, the Low Power Mode will come to the Apple Watch Ultra and provide up to 60 hours of use. That's almost double the rated 36 hours of use in normal mode.
2. A New Look for the Compass App
To coincide with the Apple Watch Ultra, Apple has also unveiled a redesigned Compass app in watchOS 9. When starting the app, you’ll quickly notice the hybrid view showing both an analog compass dial and digital information. Turn the Digital Crown to see more data including altitude, longitude, elevation, and incline.
On the same screen is the new Compass Waypoints and Backtrack. With waypoints, you can mark a location or point of interest in the app to access later in the app. For example, you can mark the location of your car in a parking lot. Selecting the waypoint will show its direction and how far away it is.
Backtrack makes use of GPS data to create a path showing where you’ve been. It’s perfect to use on a hike and retrace your steps.
3. An Improved Apple Watch Dock
Pressing the Side Button once opens up the Apple Watch dock where you can easily access apps to use. And watchOS 9, the dock will promote apps currently in use. That will make them easier to return to.
Make sure to see everything the Digital Crown and Side Button can do on the Apple Watch.
4. Apple Watch Mirroring on an iPhone
Making the Apple Watch more accessible for users with physical and motor disabilities is a new Mirroring feature. On your iPhone, you can control any Apple Watch using the iPhone’s features including Voice Control and Switch Control.
5. A New Quick Action
Additionally, Apple has also added a new accessible Quick Action for Apple Watch users on watchOS 9. A simple double-pinch gesture can answer or end a phone call, dismiss a notification, take a photo, play/pause media, and start, pause, or resume a workout.
6. More Languages on the Apple Watch Keyboard
Apple added a built-in keyboard starting with Apple Watch Series 7. Instead of Scribble or Dictation, you can type out a message and much more. The QuickType predictive engine will suggest possible words and phrases you were typing.
In watchOS 9, the keyboard has added support for additional languages—French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.
7. More Features for a Family Setup Apple Watch
Family Setup allows children, or other family member, to use a cellular-enabled Apple Watch without needing an iPhone.
With watchOS 9, kids can now access the Podcast app. Starting in late 2022, children can also be invited to the Home app to control HomeKit accessories and HomePod speakers. They will also have access to keys stored in Wallet.
Enjoy All the New watchOS 9 Features
While not getting a lot of attention, these lesser-known improvements in watchOS 9 continue to make the experience even better.
Whether you’re using Low Power Mode, enjoying the revamped Compass app, or something else, your Apple Watch is a great way to enjoy the Apple experience on a wearable device.