Home Tech Updates Apple’s watchOS 9 and its new features, including a medication app

Apple’s watchOS 9 and its new features, including a medication app

by Helen J. Wolf
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The new watch0S 9 gives users more watch faces, an updated workout app with advanced statistics, views, and training experiences, sleep stages in the sleep app, and a brand new medication app.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, says users worldwide love Apple Watch to help them stay connected with those they love, be more active throughout the day, and better manage their health.

“Later this year, watchOS 9 will take the Apple Watch experience to the next level with scientifically validated insights into fitness, sleep, and heart health while offering users more creative ways to make their Apple Watch their own,” he says.

Apple's watchOS 9

Apple says watchOS 9 introduces four new faces:

Lunar, which depicts the relationship between the Gregorian calendar and the lunar calendar, is used in many cultures, such as the Chinese, Islamic, and Hebrew Playtime, a dynamic piece of art unique to Apple Watch created in collaboration with artist Joi Fulton Metropolitan, a classic, type-driven dial that changes style when the Digital Crown is turned Astronomy. This original dial has been remastered and features a new star chart and cloud data.

The company says watchOS 9 introduces improved and modernized complications to some of its most classic watch faces, such as Utility, Simple, and Activity Analog, and background color editing for Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large for added personalization.

It says the new portrait face shows the depth effect on more photos, including cats, dogs, and landscapes, while adding Chinese scripts as options for California and Typograph dials. In addition, focus users can now select an Apple Watch face to automatically display when they start a specific guide on the iPhone, such as the face of the photo during a personal guide, keeping users in the moment.

Workout App Updates

Apple says the familiar in-session screen now uses the digital crown to rotate between easy-to-read workout views, allowing users to see key stats for different workout styles. It states that heart rate zones, which can be created manually or calculated automatically using personalized health data, can be used to monitor the intensity of a workout.

The company says the workout app also introduces custom workouts, which can create a structured activity with work and rest intervals. In addition, new alerts, including pace, power, heart rate, and cadence, can be added to guide users through the training.

Apple says the workout app now supports a new multisport workout type for triathletes that automatically switches between swimming, cycling, and running, using motion sensors to recognize movement patterns. When each workout is complete, a redesigned summary page in the fitness app provides additional details with interactive charts for more accurate analysis.

Apple says the watchOS 9 includes new metrics such as stride length, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation for runners. Users can also race against their best or last result on commonly used routes and receive alerts during training if they are ahead of or behind their pace or stray off the road.

In addition, with a new pacer experience, users can choose a distance and target for the time they want to complete a run and calculate the pace needed to reach the target. During the workout, they can follow the pace warnings and stats provided.

Apple says kickboard detection has been added for swimmers as a new stroke type for pool swim workouts. It says swimmers can now track their efficiency with a SWOLF score, the number of strokes combined with the time, in seconds, it takes to swim one length of the pool.

The company says that with watchOS 9, Apple Fitness+ workouts will now display on-screen guidance alongside trainer coaching to help users get the most out of activities, including:

Intensity for HIIT cycling, revolutions per minute (RPM) rowing, strokes per minute (SPM) treadmill, incline for walkers and runners

Apple says Fitness+ subscribers without Apple TV can now use AirPlay to stream workouts and meditations with on-screen stats to compatible TVs and third-party devices so they can exercise anywhere.

Sleep Insights

Apple says sleep tracking in watchOS 9 offers even more insights by introducing sleep stages. Using signals from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor, Apple Watch can detect when users are in REM, Core, or Deep sleep.

The company says users will see sleep stage data on Apple Watch in the Sleep app. This provides more detailed information, such as sleep time, and metrics, such as heart rate and respiration rate, in sleep comparison tables in the Health app on iPhone.

Apple says its machine learning models have been trained and validated against the clinical gold standard, polysomnography, with one of the largest and most diverse populations ever studied for a wearable.


The new Apple Watch and iPhone medication app helps users manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements, allowing them to create a medication list and set schedules and reminders in the health app. The medicines app on Apple Watch will enable users to easily and discreetly track medicines anytime, anywhere.

The company says users can create custom schedules for each drug and set reminders to keep them on track.

Apple says privacy is fundamental in designing and developing all Apple features. When a user’s iPhone is locked with a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID, all their health and fitness data in the health app, except Medical ID, is encrypted. All health data backed up to iCloud is encrypted in transit and on Apple servers.

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