watchOS 8 has got way more handy tricks up its sleeve than what meets the eyes. From a brand new photo watch face designed to change the way you view photos on your Apple Watch to the new Accessibility features crafted to let you use your smartwatch without having to touch it, the latest watchOS release has a bunch of cool features. And that’s why we have lined up the 25+ best watchOS 8 tips and tricks to let you get the most out of your Apple Watch.
If you have upgraded your Apple Watch to the latest watchOS release and are eager to unravel all the notable and hidden watchOS 8 features for a more personalized experience, this extensive tips and tricks roundup has got you covered.
To ensure you get the most out of your Apple Watch, I have also assembled some of the most user-friendly features from the previous releases. With all that said, let’s jump right in!
1. Set Portraits Watch Face on Your Apple Watch
What makes Portraits watch face so special is the ability to let you view your favorite photos on Apple Watch in an all-new way. The watch face is designed to intelligently recognize faces in photos and highlight the subject. Using the multi-layered effect, it animates portrait images so that they appear stunning on the smartwatch.
Open the Watch app on your iPhone > Face Gallery > Portraits > Choose Photos to set Portraits watch face. After that, choose up to 24 portrait images and customize the watch face using the available complications. Finally, tap Add to finish.
Going forward, a new image will pop up on your Apple Watch screen whenever you tap the display or raise your wrist. Better still, you can even zoom in/out of the portrait using your Digital Crown.
2. Share Photos from Your Apple Watch
Did you ever wish to share one of your most loved memories from your Apple Watch and were disappointed to know that there was no way to do it? If that’s the case, this nifty watchOS 8 feature will win you over right away.
To share any image right from your wrist, open the Photos app on your Apple Watch > select an image > Share button > Choose Messages app or Mail app > select a contact > write a short message (optional), and send it.
3. Set a Focus on Your Apple Watch
Focus mode is what you should use to keep all the distractions away while working or having a peaceful time. Setting up a Focus on Apple Watch is as straightforward as it is on the iPhone.
To get going, swipe up from the watch face on your Apple Watch to access Control Center and then tap on Focus (the crescent moon) icon. Next, tap on the Focus you wish to turn on > tap the length of time you wish the Focus to be active, and you are all set!
4. Create a Focus Schedule on Your Apple Watch
After creating a Focus on your paired iPhone, you can customize schedules for it right from your wrist. Based on your needs, you can customize the schedule to automatically invoke a custom Focus at a specified time and even choose whether or not a Focus activates on certain days.
To set a Focus schedule on your Apple Watch, open the Settings app > Focus > specific Focus > Add new. Next, set the start/end time and also fine-tune the “Repeat” for days.
5. Set Up AssistiveTouch to Confirm Payments Using Apple Pay
After a long wait, Apple has introduced “AssistiveTouch” on Apple Watch. That means you can now perform various actions, including the ability to invoke Siri, bring up Control Center, and access Dock without touching the screen of your smartwatch. Interestingly, you can set up this Accessibility feature to even confirm payments using Apple Pay.
Head into the Watch app on your iPhone > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch. Now, ensure that the AssistiveTouch toggle is enabled. Next, tap Enable Confirm with AssistiveTouch. Going forward, you’ll be prompted to confirm payments using the passcode (instead of having to double-press the Side Button).
6. Customize the Appearance of AssistiveTouch
If you are fond of AssistiveTouch, chances are pretty high that you would love to customize its appearance for a more personalized experience. watchOS 8 lets you choose from a variety of colors like red, white, green, yellow, grey, blue, and orange so that the AssistiveTouch always appears in sync with your preference.
Navigate to the Watch app on your iPhone > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch > Colors. Now, choose the desired color, and you are good to go.
7. Enable Auto Scanning for AssistiveTouch
The newly-launched AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch allows manual scanning by default. But did you know that you could set up auto-scanning for this Accessibility feature? Head over to Watch app > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch > Scanning Style > Auto Scanning.
Once you have selected Auto Scanning functionality, you will get the option to customize its speed as well. Now, choose Slow, Medium, or Fast, depending on your needs.
8. Schedule Mindfulness Reminder
By default, Mindfulness provides a reminder at the start or end of the day, which may not always go in sync with your hectic lifestyle. But bother not, watchOS 8 offers you the flexibility to schedule a mindfulness reminder. Hence, you can get the alert at a specified time and even choose to keep the alert away on certain days.
Go to Watch app on your iPhone > Mindfulness > Add Reminder. Now, customize your mindfulness reminder so that it always stays in sync with your lifestyle.
9. Mute Mindfulness Reminder
On any day, you don’t want to receive a reminder to perform breathing exercises, you can mute the reminder for that day. Save it for the times where you are on the move and want to keep all the regular reminders about daily chores at bay.
To do so, open the Watch app on your iPhone > Mindfulness. Now, turn on the switch right next to Mute for Today.
10. Customize Mindfulness Haptics
Notably, you can also fine-tune mindfulness haptics. So, depending on your needs, you can choose to disable the haptics completely, keep it minimal or go with the prominent haptics. Personally, I prefer the prominent haptic style as it forces me to adhere to the set rules.
Head over to the Watch app on your iPhone > Mindfulness > Haptics. Now, select None, Minimal, or Prominent as per your needs.
11. Customize Mindfulness Breath Rate
If you use the Mindfulness app to perform breathing exercises, you would be glad to know that the app allows you to customize the breath rate. Yeah, you read that right! You can fine-tune the breath rate to have up to 10 breaths per minute. As a beginner, this is precisely what you need to get into the groove of breathing exercises.
To get going, open the Watch app on your paired iPhone > Mindfulness > Breath Rate. Now, choose the desired option. While 4 breaths per minute are the minimum, ten breaths per minute are the maximum.
12. Adjust Breathe/Reflect Session
Bite-sized sessions coupled with the flexibility to adjust the session length are what I prefer to ensure I can carry out meditation at my own pace. So, it’s good to see the flexibility to customize the Breathe and Reflect duration. And I’m sure most of you would appreciate it.
To begin with, open the Mindfulness app on your Apple Watch and then tap on the three dots icon at the top right next to Breathe or Reflect. Next up, tap on Duration and then choose a preferred duration.
13. Use Your Apple Watch to Unlock Your iPhone
In the wake of the deadly “COVID 19” pandemic, wearing a mask has become a must. As we all know that Face ID requires the face to be uncovered at the time of authentication, this security feature has become a hindrance for users who own modern iPhones. But worry not, this is where the recently introduced feature called “Unlock with Apple Watch” comes into play. Yeah, you got that right!
If you have an Apple Watch, you can unlock your paired iPhone while wearing a mask without any hassle. To jumpstart with this super handy feature, head into the Settings app on your iPhone > Face ID & Passcode. Now, turn on the toggle right next to X’s (your name) Apple Watch.
From now onwards, so long as your Apple Watch is passcode protected, unlocked, and (of course) on your wrist close by, you will be able to unlock your paired iOS device.
14. Group Apple Watch Notifications By App
By default, watchOS automatically groups notifications to not only keep the notification center clutter-free but also make it a bit easier for you to keep track of important alerts.
While the automatic grouping of notifications based on certain information from apps is fine, I prefer to group alerts by the app. It helps me to quickly access all the notifications from an app. If you are like me, you may also want to customize notification grouping by the app.
Launch Watch app on your Apple > My Watch tab > Specific app > Notification Grouping > By App.
15. Customize Siri Voice Feedback
Siri can speak responses on your wearable device. If you want to get the most out of this handy watchOS feature, make sure to customize the voice feedback. Head over to the Watch app > Siri > Voice Feedback. Now, you have three options to choose from:
- Always On: Choose it to let Siri speak responses even when your smartwatch is in silent mode.
- Control With Silent Mode: Select it to let Siri silence all spoken responses when your Apple Watch is in silent mode.
- Headphones Only: Pick it to let Siri speak responses only when your Apple Watch is connected to Bluetooth headphones.
16. Use Siri to Announce Messages
Times when you are on the move, this feature can come in super handy. It can let you have Siri announce messages so that you can stay informed without any hassle. Remember that the Announce Messages feature requires 2nd-gen AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and some beats headphones.
To bring this neat feature into action, pair your AirPods with your Apple Watch. After that, put them in your ears or on your head (AirPods Max). Then, go to the Settings app > Siri > Announce Messages and then turn on the toggle.
17. Translate Languages on the Fly
Thanks to the Siri translation feature, you can easily translate languages right on your Apple Watch. If Siri’s translation was pretty good in watchOS 7, it’s got even better in watchOS 8.
To get going, invoke Siri by using either the Hey Siri command or pressing the Digital Crown and then say something like, “How do you say ‘How are you?’ in French?” The virtual assistant will promptly translate the language and even show it on the screen. Not to mention, there will also be a play button to let you listen to the translation multiple times.
18. Enable Headphone Safety
Headphone safety is what you should use to prevent loud sounds from harming your hearing. With this feature enabled, your Apple Watch will keep a tab on the headphone audio levels. And, if the volume level exceeds the recommended 7-day limit, an alert will be sent to you, and the volume will be turned down to protect your hearing.
Navigate to the Watch app on your iPhone > Sounds & Haptics > Headphone Safety. Now, enable Headphone Notifications and customize the settings as per your needs.
19. Create Custom Replies for Messages and Mail
Imagine you are on the move, suddenly you receive an email notification on your Apple Watch. Wouldn’t you want to send a quick response right from your wrist without having to dig into your iPhone? Most probably, you would!
Launch Watch app on your iPhone to create custom replies> scroll down to choose Mail/Messages > Default Replies > Add Reply. Type in the reply and then tap on Done to confirm.
20. Hide Unwanted Apps on Your Apple Watch
watchOS lets you keep some unwanted apps out of sight without having to delete them. To me, this is a smart way to keep the Apple Watch home screen clean. So, if you have some apps that you do not use more often, take advantage of this hack to hide them.
Open the Watch app on your iOS device > scroll down to the Installed on Apple Watch section. Now, find the app you wish to hide and then turn off the toggle right next to Show App on Apple Watch. If you ever change your mind, return to this same setting and then turn on the toggle to bring the app back on your smartwatch.
21. Change Default City for Weather
Well, I have saved this nifty Apple Watch trick for the folks who have to track weather information closely. By default, watchOS shows the weather information of one of the major cities of your country. However, you can change the default city for weather on your Apple Watch. To get it done, open the Watch app on your iPhone > Weather > Default City. Now, select your preferred city.
Additionally, you can also choose to show the weather information of the current location. From now onwards, watchOS will show the weather information of this selected city in your watch face complications.
22. Use Power Saving Mode to Extend the Battery Life of Your Apple Watch
Whenever I find my Apple Watch draining battery unexpectedly, I go for the power-saving mode to extend the battery life. When turned on, Apple Watch disables the mobile data and the built-in heart rate sensor during walking and running workouts to reduce power consumption.
Bear in mind that when the power saving mode is enabled, the calculations for energy burned in some workouts may be less accurate. However, Bluetooth-connected heart rate monitors are not affected.
Go to Watch app > scroll down, choose Workout, and then turn on the toggle next to Power Saving Mode.
23. Customize Workout View
If you use the Workout app, chances are pretty high that you want to customize the workout view. watchOS offers a variety of workouts so that you can personalize the workout view in accordance with your fitness goal.
Head over to the Watch app on your iPhone > Workout > Workout View. Now, select from a variety of workouts to give a custom look to the workout view.
24. Enable Low/High Heart Rate Notifications
As a health-conscious person, you would like to have low/high heart rate notifications to ward off any health-related threats. watchOS allows you to set a threshold so that you can get a timely alert whenever your BPM goes above or falls below a certain level.
Furthermore, you can also enable irregular rhythm notification to receive a notification when Apple Watch detects multiple heart rhythms that may be a sign of atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm).
25. Enable Environmental Sound Measurements
Thanks to the well-thought-out Noise feature designed to boost hearing health, your Apple Watch can detect sound levels nearby and alert you when they might affect your hearing. The smartwatch uses the built-in microphone to measure environmental sound levels throughout the day and notify you whenever the sound levels exceed your set noise threshold.
Go to the Watch app on your iPhone > Noise > Environmental Sound Measurements. After that, tap on Noise Threshold and then choose the decibels limit (80 decibels is considered a safe bet).
That’s all there is to it! So, these are the best watchOS 8 tips for your Apple Watch that you can use to improve the user experience and also ramp up your customization game. Now that you have unraveled my favorite watchOS 8 tips and tricks, it’s time to spill some beans about your top picks. Also, do not forget to pinpoint the tricks that deserve a shot in the lineup.
While watchOS 8 may not look as elegant as its predecessor on the face, it’s got enough to warrant a notable upgrade. So, I’m sure most of you would love the latest iteration of watchOS. Not to underestimate, features like Focus, AssistiveTouch, and Portraits watch face are worthy add-ons in more ways than one. What do you think?