watchOS 8 is out now - here's how it changes your Apple Watch

Three Apple Watch devices on watchOS 8
(Image credit: Apple)

While the Apple Watch Series 7 is yet to have a release date confirmed, watchOS 8 is now available for the Apple Watch Series 3 and above.

It’s a year that focuses on refining what’s already there, while showcasing some new watch faces which look to take advantage of your portrait mode shots taken on your iPhone.

However, if you’re passionate about fitness, there’s plenty of improvements here to delve into that could benefit you.

What to take notice of in watchOS 8

If you have a bunch of smart lights around your home, the Home app has been redesigned to take more control of what your accessories offer, alongside being able to see who’s knocking on your door with a live video feed.

The Breathe app has been renamed Mindfulness in this new update, and it has seen a redesign for watchOS 8. Alongside a new look, there’s also a Reflect session, where the app gives you a thoughtful statement to try and help with your mental health at certain points of the day.

If you wear your Apple Watch while you sleep, watchOS 8 now measures your heart rate, giving you more information on how many breaths you take per minute, which is stored in the Health app.

A new watchOS release always brings new watch faces, and the same applies here. A new Portrait Face showcases the photos you’ve taken on your iPhone with the Portrait Mode setting, which gives you a bokeh effect. This is where the subject is focused on, and the surroundings are blurred out. For this watch face, the subject is given the main attention, while the time is in the background.

Focus is another new feature taken from iOS 15, where you can create certain profiles that decide on how notifications are delivered, and when. This syncs up with watchOS 8, to only notify you when needed.

Should you upgrade to watchOS 8?

While there’s fewer features in watchOS this year when compared to iOS 15, it doesn’t mean it’s an update to hold off from. The Apple Watch has always been a device focused on your wellbeing, physically and mentally, and watchOS 8 is no different.

Since the launch of Apple Watch in 2015, Apple is constantly working towards making sure that the Watch helps you across your day without being a hindrance. It’s the companion on your wrist to help you and not annoy.

watchOS 8 is only refining this aim, and the features it brings, however small, are still going to make a big impact on your daily routine.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.