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Concept Part 1: watchOS 8 could introduce new apps, new faces, and widgets

We’re about six months away from the unveiling of the next version of watchOS. We haven’t heard any rumors yet, so all of these ideas are based purely on conjecture. But at the end of the day, there are lots of ways that watchOS could be improved. From more detailed health data metrics to even more glanceable information, Apple has plenty of opportunities to make watchOS more powerful.

At the heart of this concept is a focus on adding new apps and turning existing components of the system into standalone apps. Perhaps the most important functionality of Apple Watch is its extensive array of health sensors. At the moment, each core health capability has its own app. But there’s really no way to go through previous health data or look at a more comprehensive overview.

Health App

Apple really ought to add the Health app to watchOS in an effort to turn the watch into a more powerful and independent health device. Each existing app for measuring different health metrics would still exist, but to see historical health data or all of today’s data in one place you could use the new Health app.

You’d be able to look at highlights that normally only appear on your iPhone, as well as each individual category and health metric. This means you’d be able to look at data you currently can’t directly on your watch.

Solar + Astronomy Apps

Two of the most beautiful watch faces on Apple Watch also happen to be super powerful. In fact they essentially function like standalone apps. But neither is very discoverable. Both of these faces also don’t allow much room for complications and as a result aren’t used very often.

Apple could split these off into two new individual apps. The Solar app could introduce an easy way to see the place of the sun throughout the day using the same exact graph design as the Solar Graph watch face. The Astronomy app could let you view the current moon phase, the position of Earth and play around with the orbit of the solar system.

Both of these watch faces would stick around, but by adding two new apps with these features more folks could use them more often.

Widgets in Control Center

Apple offered something called “glances” in the first two versions of watchOS. Originally they were intended to display quick bits of important information from third-party apps. But once developers were able to make more powerful native apps and once the watch had a more powerful processor, they weren’t necessary. Apple opted to replace them with a single Control Center overlay. They left the quick glanceable information to complications and apps in your dock.

iOS 14’s small widget size class is a perfect candidate for the Apple Watch. Apple ought to consolidate the Control Center into a single, non-scrollable page and add horizontal scrolling between various widgets. The user interface bears a striking resemblance to glances, but these widgets would be far more powerful and much faster at reloading.

Apple could even make it possible to simply port your existing iOS 14 widgets to the Watch without a standalone app. The data could sync from the web or your iPhone. This could help get more third-party software on the watch with interest in developing full Apple Watch apps at a lull.

Fun New Faces

Apple TV+ has really blown up over the past year and some of its characters have become especially beloved. A new incentive for signing up for the service could be a new “TV+” face that brings characters from your favorite shows to life on your watch. Snoopy could float around your watch face, Ted Lasso could give you a smile, characters from Central Park could sing, the possibilities are endless. It could display quotes and affirmations from these characters as well through a custom complication.

I would fully expect a Ted Lasso watch face to be a huge hit amongst Apple fans. And paired with his optimistic quotes, it could be a really delightful new watch face.

Batteries App

One of the best widgets in iOS 14 is the batteries widget. It beautifully displays the current battery level on your connected devices. While it’s great on iPhone, it could be even more useful to have on Apple Watch.

To make it even more powerful, it could let you turn things like low power mode on remotely. It’d simply be a great way to keep an eye on your connect devices. Plus, the more powerful battery widget from iOS 14 could be added to the new control center.

Hiking App

With an ever more quarantined world, it’s important that we spend some time exploring the great outdoors and getting some fresh air. With the new Hiking app you could learn about the trails and places you visit, find guides to new places, and keep track of your location while hiking.

There are plenty of other ways for Apple to power up watchOS with this year’s release. But they seem to be focusing on very specific smaller subsets of features with each major release lately. What do you think about these ideas? What ideas might you have for watchOS 8? Let us know in the comments below!

Read Part 2 of This Concept

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Avatar for Parker Ortolani Parker Ortolani

Parker Ortolani is a marketing strategist and product designer based in New York. In addition to contributing to 9to5mac, he also oversees product development and marketing for BuzzFeed. A longtime reader, Parker is excited to share his product concepts and thoughts with the 9to5mac audience.