If you want an upgraded Apple Watch experience you might not have to buy a new Apple Watch to get it, as it sounds like the next major operating system update – likely to be dubbed watchOS 10 – will include substantial changes for existing models like the Apple Watch 8.
That’s according to Mark Gurman, in his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg (via 9to5Mac). Specifically, Gurman says “I believe the new watchOS should be a fairly extensive upgrade – with notable changes to the user interface – unlike iOS 17.”
Gurman doesn’t get more specific than that, but we might not have to wait long to find out more about this “extensive upgrade”, as watchOS 10 will almost certainly be announced at Apple’s WWDC 2023 conference on June 5.
We’ll probably also see the first developer beta launch there, followed not too long after by public betas, though the finished software probably won’t be available until around September, when it's expected to be released alongside the Apple Watch 9.
Big software updates and small hardware ones
However, the Apple Watch 9 itself might not prove that tempting, with Gurman adding that “it’s important for watchOS to have a big year given that the Apple Watch hardware updates will be anything but major.”
This claim echoes the few Apple Watch 9 rumors we’ve heard so far, which suggest it will be a lot like the Apple Watch 8. Other leaks suggest we might not see an Apple Watch Ultra 2 or the Apple Watch SE 3 until 2024, so that could be a huge year for Apple Watch hardware, with the Apple Watch 10 (or Apple Watch X as it might be called) also rumored to be getting big upgrades.
But this year? It seems Apple’s focus will very much be on software updates rather than hardware ones. So if you already have an Apple Watch 8 or an older model, you might find that you get most of this year's upgrades by downloading them to your current Watch, rather than having to splash out on a new device.
Of course, we’d take Gurman’s claims with a pinch of salt, but he has a pretty good track record, so there’s a strong chance he’s right. In which case, our guide to the best Apple Watches might not see much change this year, but the wearable you already have might soon feel new and exciting again.
Plus, if Apple's latest patent turns into an actual product you could see your AirPods case become more like an Apple Watch, with a touchscreen and app controls.