The next major version of Apple Watch software lands today with the release of watchOS 8. Now users can choose to share health information with family members and doctors, take a moment to pause with the new Mindfulness app, and turn Portrait mode photos into watch faces.

How to update

First, update your iPhone to iOS 15. The software update is available for iPhone 6s and later starting today. Then look for the watchOS 8 update in the Watch app on iPhone. You can find it at My Watch > General > Software Update in the Watch app. watchOS 8 supports Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 3 and higher.

Health Sharing

watchOS 8 and iOS 15 introduce a new way to securely share health data with family members and doctors of your choice. Health Sharing is completely optional, information is always saved on-device and not on a server, and you can revoke sharing at any time.

Health Sharing is available in the Health app on the iPhone with iOS 15, and health data collected from the Apple Watch can be found here and shared with your permission:

With iOS 15, users can choose to securely give a loved one visibility into their health and wellness data, enabling them to have more meaningful conversations and provide support — even from afar — as they follow important alerts and changes over time.In the Health app, a new Sharing tab lets users privately share their data with a trusted partner or caregiver. Users have full control over which data they share and with whom, whether they’re an aging parent who shares their activity or heart health data with a family member, a partner who chooses to share their fertility window insights, or a person with Parkinson’s disease who wants to share their mobility data with a physical therapist. For the person receiving this information, shared data is presented with important insights and trends highlighted.


Apple Watch already features the Breathe app for helping you follow guided breathing exercises, and now the app is expanding and being renamed Mindfulness. The new version continues to add guided breathing sessions as well as new visual meditation sessions. Apple Fitness+, the subscription workout service from Apple, also integrates with the Mindfulness app with guided meditation sessions.

New watch faces

Apple Watch Series 4 and higher will gain two new watch faces: Portraits and World Time. Portraits is a very attractive digital watch face that uses depth data in Portrait mode photos shot on iPhone to create a new style of photo watch faces. World Time is an analog watch face with a digital clock option that presents local time around the world.

Always-On display

Apple Watch Series 5 and higher feature an Always-On display that dims rather than turning off the display when your wrist is lowered. Always-On supports each watch face as well as the Workout app from the start, and now more Apple apps and all third-party apps can work without a blurred digital clock taking over the screen.

Much more

watchOS 8 features new and updated apps and more features that you can try with your Apple Watch starting today:

  • Photos app now shows highlights from Featured Photos and Memories
  • Photos can now be shared from Messages and Mail
  • Home app has been overhauled with a much improved version
  • Focus mode enhances Do Not Disturb with automatic notification behaviors when working out, sleeping, and more
  • Sleep tracking now includes respiratory rate
  • Workout now tracks Pilates, Tai Chi, and new enhancements to bicycling workouts
  • Timer app now supports multiple, labeled timers
  • Contacts app is available for the first time
  • Find My Devices is now available with AirTag support and more

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created