Apple’s upcoming watchOS 9 software is now available as a beta for developers to download and try out before the finished version arrives in the autumn. But one key feature is, for now at least, missing.
That feature is a low power mode, which Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has reported on for several months, but isn’t yet part of the watchOS 9 operating system. Although missing for now, the function is still expected to be added later, and could be an exclusive to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8.
Apple tends to hold back a handful of exclusive features for its latest smartwatch, in a bid to encourage owners of the current model to upgrade. Expected to be announced alongside the iPhone 14 in September, the Watch Series 8 will likely follow this recipe.
And, if Gurman’s reporting is anything to go by, low power mode will be among the Series 8 exclusives. Although Apple Watches already have Power Reserve Mode, this turns off all features apart from the time and is only intended for when the battery is very low.
Instead, the new low power mode of the Watch Series 8 is expected to work like that of the the iPhone and Mac, where the entire system is optimised to eke out as much charge as possible, while still being almost fully functional.
What’s interesting here is how, because the function isn’t yet a part of watchOS 9, we suspect it’ll be a Watch Series 8 exclusive – and that means it’ll require new hardware as well as software. As such, the new processor of the Series 8, expected to be called the S8, could have certain hardware traits that let it run in a more efficient low-power mode.
All of this points to the Apple Watch’s battery life finally extending beyond the 18 hours Apple currently quotes for typical use. Could the new Apple Watch last for a full 24 hours? We sure hope so.
If it works like that of the iPhone, low power mode on the Apple Watch will have an on/off button in Control Centre and when activated it will throttle back the processor and do what it can to preserve battery life without taking away too much functionality.
We expect to see the feature included in both the regular Watch Series 8 and the rumoured ‘Series 8 Pro’, which is claimed to have a tougher case, a higher price, and compete against outdoor fitness watches from the likes of Polar and Garmin. It is unlikely that a new model of Watch SE, which tends to borrow hardware from older generations of Watch, will feature low power mode with its next upgrade.