Apple took the stage at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6 to unveil WatchOS 9, the next big update to the operating system for the Apple Watch. Following several months in beta, WatchOS 9 was officially made available on September 12, along with the Apple Watch Series 8.
This also marks the first time in two years that Apple is dropping support for an older Apple Watch model in a new WatchOS release. The Apple Watch Series 3, which made its debut alongside the iPhone 7 in 2017, isn’t making the cut this year. So, if you plan to upgrade to WatchOS 9, you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 4 or later. This includes the Apple Watch SE, released alongside the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020. Let’s take a closer look.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is the last of the original era of the Apple Watch. From 2014 to 2017, every series of Apple Watch came in the same two sizes: 38mm and 42mm. In 2018, the Apple Watch Series 4 bumped the wearable to 40mm and 44mm versions while shrinking the bezels to make room for an even larger screen.
However, even as new Apple Watch models came out each year, Apple kept the Series 3 around as an affordable version, ensuring that it would continue to run the latest WatchOS releases, even if it didn’t support features like the Series 4 ECG, Series 5 always-on display, or Series 6 blood oxygen sensors.
Nevertheless, the slower chip and lower storage capacity of the Apple Watch Series 3 proved to be a challenge even for WatchOS 7, and the older Apple Watch model has been on our “don’t buy” list for a while. It was only a matter of time before Apple gave up and pulled the plug rather than trying to shoehorn another WatchOS update into the aging wearable.
Even though Apple still sells the Apple Watch Series 3, rumors of its demise have already been making the rounds. WatchOS 9 hasn’t been released yet, but it’s fair to say when it comes out alongside this year’s Apple Watch in the fall, the Series 3 will finally be put out to pasture. It had a good run. Apple has never sold any other Apple Watch model for more than two years, yet the Series 3 has been on the market for five.
WatchOS 9 will be available on the Apple Watch Series 4 and all later models. That includes the Series 5, the SE, Series 6, 7, and 8, as well as the Apple Watch Ultra.
However, not all WatchOS 9 features will be making it to every model, as some just aren’t advanced enough to support them. That includes the Apple Watch Mirroring capability, which is only available on the Apple Watch Series 6 and newer, and new support for language translation, which is only available on the Series 7 and later. The Series 8 also adds a brand new temperature sensor, which other models do not have.
Major features include a low-power mode, international roaming, and a variety of upgrades for fitness features, like the ability to race against your previous time, measure stride, and get more in-depth summaries. The Health app also received advances like a Medications tracker and more accurate sleep tracking.
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