WatchOS 8.5: All the new features coming to your Apple Watch now

Apple’s latest WatchOS update includes new heartbeat detection software.


Next to Apple’s iOS 15.4 update for the iPhone, which brought new emoji, anti-harassment features for AirTags and a gender-neutral Siri voice, the company also released a software update for its Apple Watch. The software, which was not highlighted at the company’s “Peek Performance” event last week, is primarily focused on AppleTV, Apple Fitness Plusheart rate detection and digital COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Called WatchOS 8.5, the software is the fifth major update provided free of charge by Apple to Apple Watch owners. since the release of WatchOS 8 last fall.

What was the release date of WatchOS 8.5?

WatchOS 8.5 was released on Monday, March 14, alongside iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4.

How to download WatchOS 8.5?

You need to download iOS 15.4 on your phone before you can upgrade your Apple Watch. You can download iOS 15.4 by going to Settings > General > Software Update > Download and Install. Once this is done, the software will restart your phone. Then you can go to Watch App > General > Software Update. Apple Watch updates are usually scheduled for the evening, when people tend to pull them out to charge.

Heartbeat detection improvements

One of the most popular features of the Apple Watch is its health monitoring capabilities. There are many stories of the Apple Watch identify and alert people to heart problems before you experience symptoms. Apple said that with WatchOS 8.5, it improved software to detect atrial fibrillation, most common type of irregular heartbeat, which may indicate major stroke risks. The new detection software is available in the United States, Chile, Hong Kong, South Africa and, according to Apple, “many other regions where the feature is available.”

More from Apple TV

Another popular Apple Watch feature is its ability to act as a passcode device, allowing logins for apps such as Microsoft Authenticator and Okta Enterprise Login Software. Now, according to Apple, WatchOS 8.5 users will be able to authorize purchases of TV episodes and movies through its Apple TV iTunes Store service.

Best Apple Fitness Plus

Apple is also bolstering its $10-a-month Apple Fitness Plus service with new features for users with disabilities. It has already added health features to the Apple Watch like wheelchair training detection. Now, Apple Fitness Plus will offer optional audio feedback describing movements visually demonstrated during a workout.

COVID-19 vaccination records in Europe

One tool that has helped the world slowly adjust to life in the coronavirus pandemic has been vaccine cards, which allow businesses to identify people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as they walk into an institution. Over the past year, tech companies have gotten involved, offering easy ways to add COVID health records to our phones. The Apple Watch will now support a new format, called the EU COVID Digital Certificatewhich has become an important part of travel in Europe.

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