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WWDC 2021: Apple watchOS 8 brings more support for Photos, Messages, and Mindfulness

At WWDC today Apple revealed updates across the board, including iPadOS 15, iOS 15, and watchOS 8. watchOS 8 brings enhanced support for your photos, improved Wallet functionality, new Messages options, meditation practices, more sleep details, and much more.

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The developer beta of watchOS 8 is available to developers starting today. A public beta will be available next month with the free full update available this fall. Apple Watch Series 3 and later watches, paired with an iPhone 6S or newer running iOS 15, will support the upgrade to watchOS 8. Some features may not be available for all regions, languages, or models of Apple Watch.

Also: WWDC 2021: Apple ramps up Health capabilities with new metrics, sharing capabilities

There are a host of new functions and features coming to your Apple Watch this fall, including:

  • Wallet: With compatible accessories, your Apple Watch can serve as your key to unlock your home or vehicle. Some states also support digital driver’s licenses so you can put this right on your watch for TSA airport security checkpoint passage.
  • Messages: The digital crown can be used to scroll to exactly where you want to edit a message while you can also combine dictation, scribble, and emoticons in a single message. Quick GIF searching is coming soon, as well as sharing music through Messages and Mail.
  • Photos: Changing up your watch face is one of the ways to customize your Apple Watch experience. with watchOS 8 you can now use portrait mode photos from your iPhone to put your family and friends front and center on your wrist. You can also have photo Memories served up to your watch daily with a mosaic grid view. Photos can also now be shared via Messages and Mail.
  • Home: Improved support for smart home devices, including intelligent similar events and a room for all cameras will be provided.
  • Health and wellness: Breathe has been renamed Mindfulness and now provides theme-based meditation sessions. Breathe and Reflect sessions also end with a summary of Mindful Minutes and your heart rate. Sleep has been improved a bit with respiratory rate data. We still don’t see sleep scores that are present in watches from Garmin, Fitbit, and others, but it is good to see sleep tracking continue to improve.
  • Workout: Pilates and Tai Chi have been added as exercises found on your Apple Watch.

There are several other improvements, functions, and features coming with watchOS 8 that are detailed on the Apple watchOS 8 website.

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