1. When will Apple launch watchOS 10?
  2. Improved sleep-tracking metrics
  3. Proper navigation for Apple Watch Ultra
  4. Smarter Activity goals
  5. Proper third-party watch face support
  6. Different app layout options
  7. More independence from the iPhone
  8. Proactive health metrics
  9. An improved Siri
  10. Recovery insights
  11. Some renewed focus on Awards

10 features Apple needs to deliver in watchOS 10

With no major hardware changes planned, the 2023 software update is crucial
Wareable apple watchos 10
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The Apple Watch is on course to receive its annual injection of new features later this year with the announcement of watchOS 10 - and it's setting up to be a pretty crucial software update.

Early Apple Watch Series 9 reports suggest that the Cupertino company isn't planning any major hardware changes in 2023, while the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is only expected to debut in 2024. The base model, the Apple Watch SE 2, is also unlikely to be replaced so soon.

It means watchOS 10 will bear more load than usual this year - and there are plenty of features we hope Apple has in the works to help really give the software experience a shot in the arm. 

When will Apple launch watchOS 10?

The official announcement for watchOS 10 is almost certainly set for WWDC 2023, which should take place in early June.

It's where Apple typically outlines some of the more basic elements of the upcoming software update ahead of a full release to Apple Watch owners in September. 

Of course, features debuting through any new hardware are always kept secret, but the initial unveiling does typically provide a good insight into what's coming.  

Improved sleep-tracking metrics

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Apple finally caved and overhauled the Apple Watch's Sleep app through watchOS 9, providing sleep stages that users had been requesting for years. 

It's well documented that sleep stage accuracy in any wrist-based wearable is limited, so we view this feature as more of a nice-to-have, and the watch itself is actually very good at registering actual time in bed, but it's still very limited in certain areas. 

We even speculated that Apple would choose to ignore sleep stage data, in favor of something uniquely focused on sleep hygiene and habit forming. How (sadly) wrong we were.

But in watchOS 10, we'd love to see Apple complete our vision for sleep.

A more Whoop-esque drill down into sleep vs. sleep need, and building a strong sleep schedule, with an eye on marking the quality of rest, would be just the ticket.

For those with irregular schedules - or those who just like napping in the afternoon - this would represent a huge boost in functionality.

Proper navigation for Apple Watch Ultra

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We love what the Apple Watch Ultra brings to the lineup, with both the functionality and design getting a much-needed boost compared to the regular models. But not everything about the Ultra's debut was a success.

We found the flagship smartwatch was heavily reliant on third-party apps, and we suspect that Apple will eventually look to integrate some of its own native software through watchOS 10. 

As we mentioned up top, it appears Apple is preparing to rest the Ultra in 2023 - and that makes it an even more likely candidate to receive a big software focus to keep things feeling fresh until the second generation.

Hiking and map support is the area we're thinking could do with a particular focus.

We'd love to see a native integration of GPX mapping, or route planning, which we're sure Apple could put a brilliant spin on.

Smarter Activity goals

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The Apple Watch Rings are synonymous with the on-watch experience – but there's something quite hollow about the act day after day.

We're not against the idea of streaks, targets, or achievement-hunting, but we do feel like the Activity Rings concept and general goal setting through the Apple Watch could do with advancing to the next level.

The watch's 'Move' active calorie burn target is great for those just getting familiar with tracking their exercise, for example, but it's something that glosses over a lot of the fundamentals behind calorie goal setting.

How does your basal metabolic rate factor in? Do you always want to be burning more and more calories?

You can figure out the answers to some of these questions after manually digging through Apple Health, but we'd love to see the data presented through the Activity app.

It's a similar story with Stand and Exercise - they're great things to aim for in principle, but they inevitably miss the bigger picture or grow stale after a period.

As active people, our Move goal was naturally very high. But we've found it stressful to fail a Move goal while resting after a half marathon the day before. What about being rewarded for rest, rather than punished?  We think the rings could become a lot smarter.

Proper third-party watch face support

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Yeah, we know – this is never going to happen. But let us dream.

Apple's native watch face support is head and shoulders above the competition, with new and imaginative options debuting consistently throughout the year and with each major software update. 

With watchOS 10, though, we'd love to see Apple up the ante and open things a little more to third-party makers.

We're not saying to hand over the keys completely, but it would be a great option if you could somehow set a watch face from Clockology or another popular third-party option as your default - and with full permissions for complication support, too.  

The watch face is a gateway to the Apple Watch experience, and the company has told us before how it likes to control this tightly. But we also believe users should be trusted with personalization.

Different app layout options

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The Grid View or the List View - they're your two options for viewing apps on the Apple Watch, and it's something we hope expands a little through the next big software update.

As anybody with a wide-ranging list of apps will know, neither of these options is that efficient. Sure, you get to edit the honeycomb layout on the Grid View, putting all your most-used in the center, but we'd love a favorites list, or perhaps the ability to hide some from your core list. 

Whatever it is, we think it's time some fresh ideas were brought to the app layout section of watchOS.

More independence from the iPhone

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The Apple Watch is all grown up now - and has been for a while, actually, given how established LTE support is. Still, Apple insists quite heavily on you having an iPhone to even set the smartwatch up. 

We're not expecting Apple to give up its advantage and overtly open up the smartwatch to Android users, of course, but the option to at least live a little independently from the iPhone would be neat.

Like some other features on this list, we rate this as extremely unlikely to come through watchOS 10 - Apple loves having you deeply embedded in the ecosystem, after all - but being so dependent on the iPhone, or any other device, still feels a bit limiting.

Proactive health metrics

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We're constantly banging on about the untapped potential of Apple Health here at Wareable - and we're hoping Apple does something to unlock some of its powers through watchOS 10. 

The Apple Watch misses a personalized set of health and wellbeing metrics – as we've seen with the Fitbit Health Metrics Dashboard, or the Whoop 4.0 Health Monitor. 

While Apple Health is loaded with every health metric imaginable, it's not really intended for light consumption. It's time for the Apple Watch to get proactive with wellness.

We'd love to see a wellness dashboard or some kind of Apple spin on the concept. 

An improved Siri

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Another timeless request, this isn't strictly exclusive to the Apple Watch, as plenty of other Apple devices are in more desperate need of an improved Siri.

This is less about functionality and more about accuracy, really. 

When compared to Alexa and Google Assistant, Siri is just much worse at picking up what we've asked for or commanded - and the Apple smart assistant is also unassailable when it comes to false wake-ups. 

Particularly with the QWERTY keyboard only available on the newer Series 7 and Series 8 models, an improved Siri could really help with things like dictation, too.

Recovery insights

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The Apple Watch is. sports tracking powerhouse in its own right, but there's one area it's neglected: recovery.

Over the last few years, we've seen the likes of Garmin, Oura, Whoop, and Fitbit deliver insights into rest, recovery and daily activity recommendations – and it's something we'd love to see Apple deliver.

Especially with the Apple Watch Ultra now in the mix, and sleep tracking expanding, it feels like the right time to provide some kind of amalgamated score or recommendation on how well set up you are for the day. 

We think this is a matter of when and not if, given how popular the feature has become on rival devices - the only real question is whether Apple will give recovery insights a training or health focus. 

Some renewed focus on Awards

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Apple Watch Awards have developed into a core element of the smartwatch over the years, providing users with a historical view of all their Activity accomplishments and some real motivation to keep streaks alive (for better or worse). 

At the same time, though, it's been a while since they've been given any meaningful attention. It's meant things like the monthly challenges are often chaotic - asking you to close all three rings for just one day in January, while then inviting you in February to deliver a perfect month, for example.

Given it's been such a core part of the motivation for so many years, we think some new functionality in the Awards section is long overdue. 

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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