watchOS 8: 4 new features you may have missed

Watchos 8 Photos
Watchos 8 Photos (Image credit: Apple)

Apple Wwdc21 Watchos8 Timers

watchOS 8 timers (Image credit: Apple)

When Apple gave us a glimpse of watchOS 8 during the keynote presentation at WWDC 202, you likely heard the big headlines. A new Mindfulness app to help center yourself and practice being mindful, a redesigned Home app to control your Home much better from your wrist, upgrades to the Wallet app, and much more. However, the keynote blew through the watchOS 8 sections so fast, and you may have missed some new features. Here's some feature you definitely don't want to miss.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas. While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

Long live GIFs (and other messages upgrades)

Apple Wwdc21 Watchos8 Messages Gifs (Image credit: Apple)

Apple Wwdc21 Watchos8 Messages Scribble (Image credit: Apple)

Source: Apple

While Apple did spend a bit of time going through the improvements to messages in watchOS 8, I don't think they were excited enough about some aspects — specifically GIFs.

That's right, in watchOS 8, you'll be able to send GIFs right from your wrist through the messages app just like you can on iPhone. This means you can search to find the best reaction GIF to all the situations with only a few quick taps on your wrist. Maybe it's just me, but GIFs are an essential part of my texting habits; whether it be to my partner, my family, or in the group chat, they really keep the conversation moving.

On top of GIFs, you can also use Scribble, Dictation, and emoji, all in the same message on Apple Watch. So you can quickly write, speak, or use emojis however you want to compose your message without moving from the main message screen.

Multiple Timers

watchOS 8 timers (Image credit: Apple)

Yup! It finally happened. watchOS 8 will allow you to set multiple timers at once so you can keep a countdown going for different things. You can even label the timer with Siri so you can keep track of which timers are going to go off when. It's a small feature but a huge quality of life improvement in my books.

Find Items and Find Devices apps

Apple Wwdc21 Watchos8 Find My 06072021 Carousel.jpg.large 2x (Image credit: Apple)

Two new apps are coming to the Apple Watch in watchOS 8 that are planning on helping you track down your missing stuff. The Find Items app will help you locate tagged items using the Find My network. That AirTag on your keys? Now findable from your wrist.

The second app is called Find Devices, which will allow you to find other Apple devices you have logged into the same Apple ID. Super useful for a forgetful person like me, who constantly puts his iPad in inexplicable places.


Lastly, I always love when Apple adds new accessibility features to its devices because not only should we always strive to make everything more accessible, accessibility features allow everyone to benefit.

AssistiveTouch in watchOS 8 will drastically help people with upper-body limb differences (as Apple puts it) because it enables one-arm use on Apple Watch. This will allow Apple Watch to sense simple hand gestures instead of interacting with the display on the Apple Watch. Using the built-in motion sensors, you'll be able to answer calls, control an onscreen pointer, and bring up an action menu that can access Notification Center, Control Center, and more on your Apple Watch.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.