Apple Watch Series 9

(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s not-yet-official watchOS 11 software will likely be unveiled at WWDC 2024 this month, giving us a glimpse of what wearable computing will look like for Apple Watch users throughout next year.

New features for communication, fitness and safety are almost certainly in store for Apple’s flagship smartwatch, while the rumored Siri 2.0 overhaul will certainly impact how you use the assistant on your wrist.

As the software that’s expected to ship on the Apple Watch Series 10 (and possibly Apple Watch Ultra 3) there’s plenty of reason to pay attention to watchOS 11 at the annual developer’s keynote.

Whether you’re wondering if your older Apple Watch will be compatible with the new software, or if Apple will reveal compelling features, there are big announcements coming very soon.

In the meantime, here’s what we know about watchOS 11 based on precedent, plus some features we’d hope to see in this year’s software refresh.

watchOS 11: announcement and possible release date

Barring any major changes on Apple’s part, watchOS 11 should be announced at WWDC 2024 on June 10 alongside iOS 18 and other software refreshes such as iPadOS 18 and the next macOS version

Following WWDC, a developer beta version of watchOS 11 will almost definitely be released. Then, based on the timing from previous years, the public beta should launch sometime in July for optional download.

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Based on past release schedules, watchOS 11 should become fully available in September, probably within the same few weeks as the Apple Watch Series 10 announcement.

watchOS 11: compatible Apple Watch models

For watchOS 10, Apple didn’t make any major changes to compatibility, with the Apple Watch Series 4 through the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch SE (2022) and Apple Watch Ultra 2 all eligible regular software updates (though certain features are only available for some models.)

That said, this could be the year that the Apple Watch Series 4 loses update support. It’s running on a processor that’s approximately 6 years old, and in mobile tech years that’s ancient.

But there’s a catch — the same processor is found on the original Apple Watch SE, a watch that’s only going to be 4 years old. We’re not sure if Apple would be able to support one watch with watchOS 11 and not the other.

Of course, there will be some watchOS 11 features that are exclusive to Apple Watch models with always-on displays, newer health sensors and more spacious displays. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s updates that work only for the Apple Watch Ultra lineup, too.

watchOS 11: new Apple Watch features we want to see

Days off: One of my biggest woes of the Apple Watch compared to, say, the Oura Ring, is that the Apple Watch rings don’t give you the option to take a day off. Whether you’ve been working out vigorously, haven’t been sleeping well, or are coming down sick, it’s important to take time to rest and recover your body. It would be great if there were a way to take a “rest day” without losing Apple Watch activity streaks. 

Health dashboard: While you can see all sorts of health data across several Apple Watch apps, there is no unified destination where you can review your fitness, sleep and menstrual cycle data in one place. Ideally, this would be an extension of the Health app from iPhone, though it could also be a dashboard-style app curated specifically for the Apple Watch experience. 

Native notes app: I want to see the Notes app carried over to the Apple Watch experience. The app would, presumably, sync via iCloud with the existing Notes app on your iPhone. But whether you need to remember your shopping items, create a to-do list or jot down a creative idea, having a Notes app would let you do so without needing your iPhone. Similarly, you could reference your notes you wrote on your iPhone from your wrist. 

Step-counting complication: I finally figured out how to see your step count on your Apple Watch face. It requires a third-party Apple Watch app, since there is no step-counting complication offered directly through the Apple Watch. If Apple were to introduce new complications for watchOS 11 I think a pedometer should be towards the top of the priority list. 

More from Tom’s Guide

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom’s Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef. 

[ For more curated Apple news, check out the main news page here]

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