Small improvements, also for the old Apple Watch

Apple has introduced a major temporary update to watchOS. What’s new and are the new features worth it? Time to test watchOS 8 in this review!

Read on after the announcement.

WatchOS 8 review: minor improvements

The new version of watchOS 8 brings many small, almost subtle innovations. It’s the quality of life tweaks that make your Apple Watch a little better and more fun to use. We tell you exactly which improvements Apple has made (and if they are useful at all) in this watchOS 8 review!

Hassle-free installation, even for old Apple Watch

Before you can start using watchOS 8, you must first install the update. This now also works without any problems with my old Apple Watch Series 3. With previous updates, I always had the problem that your storage space is full. This is because the Apple Watch Series 3 has very little storage space. Then you had to disconnect your watch and configure it as new. That was cumbersome, but it takes a long time.

Now the installation is smooth with every version of the Apple Watch. Especially with older smartwatches, you have to be patient before the installation is complete. In Series 3, the installation took almost two hours.

Some new faces

One of the first things we always look forward to with a watchOS update is the new watch faces. And to get straight to the point: this time they are very skinny. As for the current watches, there are only a few new ones. What’s more fun? This is a watch face that uses portrait mode photos!

There’s a big one, but do you have an Apple Watch Series 3? Then we have to disappoint you. Then there are no new watchOS 8 watch faces for you at all. So you don’t get the vertical dial either, which is a shame. The watch face is available with Apple Watch Series 4.

Apple Watch face in portrait mode

Improvements in the Photos app

The Photos app on your watch has received some new features. A ‘Look Back’ section has been added and the ‘Featured’ can now be found on the watch. It is now very easy to send photos from the watch.

It’s a great addition, but it’s still not possible to display all your photos on the watch. So if you want to send a specific photo, just hope that photo is on your Apple Watch. Otherwise, you still have to grab your iPhone.

Apple WatchOS 8-foto's

New app: Vigilance

The Breathe app has been given a new look. It’s called “mindfulness” and now it also focuses on your mental health. The breathing animation has been revamped and there is a new feature called “Reflection”. This feature helps you relax by showing you a situation you need to focus on.

This can be useful in times of stress, but the app feels a bit “floating”. You don’t like this sort of thing at all? Then you can completely ignore the app.

Mindfullness Apple Watch

Always to see more

The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch Series 6 both have an always-on display. This will keep your Apple Watch’s screen on. Workouts already shows the data this way, but with watchOS 8 other apps get this option as well. These applications include alarms, maps and a stopwatch. Even other developers can now always use the screen in their apps.

More features for cyclists

Do you like to ride a nice bike? Then your Apple Watch automatically notices when you start cycling and gives you a signal to start a cycling workout. Do you have to stop along the way? Then the exercise will stop automatically. Apple has also taken e-bike owners into consideration. Because the number of calories is now calculated more realistically while riding an electric bicycle.

Looking for…everything

You will now find many search applications on your watch. These are “Find Devices”, “Find People” and “Find Things”. With these apps you will (hopefully) never lose your devices again. The app will automatically notify you that you are too far away from your iPad or iPhone. Handy if you forget to put your device in your bag.

What is less convenient is that there are now so many applications. For example, you need to add an iPad using the Find Devices app. You place an AirTag in the Search Objects app. Why is this so divided? No idea, but the app overview on the Apple Watch is already full enough. These three separate apps make your screen even busier.

there is more …

The new Focus feature is also available on the Apple Watch. Allows you to filter notifications from people and apps based on what you do. For example, during a workout you can only accept (or not) notifications from your friends. Your Apple Watch tracks the focus group on your iPhone (or iPad, or macOS).

The Home app has also undergone a number of improvements and you can control your Apple Watch with hand gestures (via AssistiveTouch). The latter feature is only available on Apple Watch Series SE and Apple Watch Series 6.

Apple Watch OS 8

WatchOS 8 review: conclusion

watchOS 8 is certainly not a major update. There are basically minor improvements in this version that are very nice in the dark. New apps are useful, but sometimes the choice Apple has made is too big (for example, there are now three “Find My” apps).

It’s also unfortunate that the old Apple Watch Series 3 is missing a lot of innovations, while the watch is being upgraded to watchOS 8. When the Apple Watch Series 7 comes out, we hope to see what this update has in store as well. At the moment, new features are useful, but very few.

We on Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 7 will be available soon! Do you still have the Apple Watch Series 5? Or series 6? And do you want to switch? Check out our article comparing Series 6 vs Series 7! Still need to download watchOS 8? Read the article WatchOS 8 and tvOS 15 are now available for download. Well done!

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