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WatchOS 9's biggest rumored upgrade is a WWDC no-show ahead of Series 8 release

Apple Watch Series 7
Apple Watch Series 7 (Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple unveiled watchOS 9 at WWDC 2022 with plenty of new upgrades.
  • However, the biggest rumored upgrade was nowhere to be seen.
  • We were told to expect a brand new low-power mode that would make Apple Watches more usable with a low battery.

Apple unveiled watchOS 9 this week at WWDC 2022, however, a major upgrade to low power mode we were told to expect didn't actually materialize, casting doubt on whether the feature will accompany the Apple Watch Series 8 or if it even exists.

At WWDC 2022 Apple unveiled watchOS 9 with new customizable Watch Faces, an improved Workout app, new health features like its Medications app, and Afib history, and improved sleep tracking. However, one major upgrade didn't actually materialize, despite rumors from a reliable source prior to the event.

From Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in April:

For watchOS 9, Apple also is planning a new low-power mode that is designed to let its smartwatch run some apps and features without using as much battery life. Currently, Apple Watches in low-power mode -- known on the device as Power Reserve -- can only access the time. The company is also planning to refresh many of its built-in watch faces currently shipping with the device.

Yet Apple made no such mention of this feature in the keynote or in the watchOS 9 preview, meaning users of the Apple Watch Series 7 and other Best Apple Watch models have missed out on a major potential upgrade.

Low-power mode when?

Currently, low power mode on the Apple Watch renders your device essentially useless for all but telling the time, with every other functionality cut off to preserve battery. Because of how overbearing low power mode is currently on Apple Watch, the rumored watchOS 9 upgrade was set to be one of the most welcome new watchOS features in years, hence the disappointment following its no-show.

As to why this might of happened, it's quite possible that Mark Gurman was simply wrong with the information, having notably been wrong about the Apple Watch Series 7 design when that was unveiled last year. There is also the possibility that this feature does in fact exist in watchOS 9, but remains hidden because Apple hasn't seen fit to announce it yet. Apple has previously added new software features to its platforms throughout the year, so the fact it wasn't announced at WWDC doesn't preclude it from happening at a later date.

There is also the possibility that the new low-power mode is actually more of a hardware update that will be brought to new Apple Watch models later this year. We're expecting three in the form of a new Series 8, a new Apple Watch SE 2, and possibly a new more rugged Apple Watch Explorer. The aforementioned phantom square design of the Series 7 may also actually be the design of one of this year's models.

There's always Amazon

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.