Apple watchOS 10 just tipped for biggest upgrade in years

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We’re just a couple of months away from WWDC 2023, and while all eyes will be on the debut of Apple’s long-rumored VR/AR headset, the real dark horse of the event could be changes to the company’s wearable operating system: watchOS.

In the latest issue of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s well-connected reporter Mark Gurman claims the upgrade to watchOS 10 could see big interface changes.  

“I believe the new watchOS should be a fairly extensive upgrade — with notable changes to the user interface,” he writes. 

He adds this will be in stark contrast to iOS 17 — the iPhone’s operating system — which will apparently have more understated quality-of-life improvements

Gurman doesn’t elaborate on what to expect from these UI changes, but the very fact that Apple is planning something at all in this area is significant. Previous watchOS upgrades have seen new watch faces and tweaks to the way owners interact with their device, but nothing dramatic. 

But Gurman is very clear about the reason that Apple is looking to rework the operating system now. It’s “important” for watchOS to make big strides, he writes, “given that the Apple Watch hardware updates will be anything but major.”

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE (2022) shown on wrist

(Image credit: Future)

That’s disappointing but unsurprising. With just over four months until the iPhone 15 and Apple Watch Series 9 are expected to launch, leaks and rumors about the latter are virtually non-existent, suggesting a near-identical look and little to write home about in the way of new features. 

Indeed, significant changes to Apple’s wearable line seem to be earmarked for next year, with reports of 2024’s Apple Watch Ultra 2 benefiting from a micro-LED screen and growing to 2.1-inches.  

The big question for watchOS 10’s “fairly extensive upgrade” is what it means for compatibility. With watchOS 9, Apple finally ended support for the venerable Watch Series 3, and a significant UI shift could potentially see a similar end of the road for the Apple Watch Series 4 and first-generation Apple Watch SE if it’s especially CPU intensive.

We’ll know soon enough. Apple has announced that WWDC 2023 will kick off on Monday June 5, so we’ll hopefully get our first glimpse of the new interface then.

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.