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5 things that could make watchOS 10 the perfect Apple Watch update

With Apple’s 2023 Worldwide Developer Conference just weeks away, all signs point to it possibly being one of the biggest WWDCs yet. Though the main focus may be on Apple’s mixed reality headset, we’re still going to see software updates with iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and macOS 14.

Over the weekend, Mark Gurman at Bloomberg stated that watchOS 10 may be a “fairly extensive upgrade,” with “notable changes” to the user interface. Although no details were provided, it teases an exciting future for the Apple Watch this year. And it also got me thinking about some changes that I would love to see in watchOS 10.

More watch faces with dark mode

Night mode on the Apple Watch Ultra's Wayfinder watch face.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

On the Apple Watch Ultra, you get the exclusive Wayfinder watch face which is super customizable and has a neat feature that you don’t see with other Apple Watch faces — a night mode. When you activate the night mode with the Digital Crown, the entire watch face turns red with high contrast, making it easy to see at night. However, our own Senior Mobile Writer, Andy Boxall, stated in his review that he likes having this watch face on all the time because of its cool sci-fi looks, and hasn’t felt the need to change it back.

I think several other watch faces would benefit from a night/dark mode, specifically, the Chronograph, Chronograph Pro, and Infograph faces. This would make the watch faces easier to read at night and give us more options on how to display our watch face. And if we could even set a schedule to have night/dark mode kick in after sunset, it could be even better.

Give us a break with a rest mode

An Apple Watch Series 8 running the Activity app.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

One of the biggest complaints about the Apple Watch is the fact that there is no rest mode. That means if you have a streak going, such as with your Move ring, you have to meet your goal every single day to keep it — even if you’re deathly ill and bedridden, or just had surgery and need to recover.

In those types of situations, it can be incredibly difficult to be active and move. Yes, there are “workarounds” that you can do to just fill up the move and exercise rings, but it really shouldn’t come down to that.

Other smart wearables, like the Oura Ring, have a rest mode that you can activate when you’re not feeling 100% and need to recover. Doing so should not affect your current streaks, because people are not machines; a rest every now and then to recover is good. Apple really should add some kind of “rest mode” to watchOS, so maybe we’ll see it this year. I’ll keep crossing my fingers.

A lock mode for the touchscreen

The Apple Watch SE 2 with Nike Bounce watch face.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Apple Watch Series 5 was one of the biggest upgrades to the Apple Watch lineup, as it introduced the game-changing always-on display. However, as great as this feature is, it also brings its own slate of issues.

For example, when I’m changing my daughter’s diaper, she always notices my Apple Watch because the display is on, and you know — “ohhhh, shiny!” As I’m changing her diaper, she ends up tapping my Apple Watch display the entire time, and I don’t notice until I’m done changing her. Sometimes, it’s harmless, as she just taps on the complications on my watch face. Other times, it’s more irritating, because she’s ended up deleting entire watch faces without me knowing until I look at my watch.

I know there are other situations where the touch screen may be too sensitive too. Have you ever crossed or folded your arms, and ended up “tapping” something on your Apple Watch’s always-on display by accident? It’s something that can easily happen, and it’s incredibly annoying.

I hope that Apple adds some kind of touch sensitivity setting in watchOS 10, or even a “child lock” kind of feature. Either way, it would be helpful to prevent accidental taps on the screen.

Custom watch faces

The Apple Watch Ultra with the Apple Watch Series 8 and Watch SE 2.
(Left to right) Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Ever since the original Apple Watch Series 0, Apple has made original watch faces for users to use, including some third-party ones from Nike, Disney, and Hermès. But for years, users have been wanting one thing: the ability to make their own custom watch faces, or just have some support for more third-party ones.

If Apple is going to include “notable changes,” having support for more third-party or custom watch faces would be a big one. And I don’t mean just using an app to display a “watch face,” which would only work while the app is active. Allowing third-party or custom watch faces would be similar to how iOS 14 and iOS 16 changed home and lock screen customization, and it’s something that many people have expressed an interest in since the Apple Watch debuted.

How awesome would it be to make your Apple Watch look like LCARS from Star Trek?

Live Activities support

Notifications on an Apple Watch Series 8.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

In iOS 16.1, Apple released support for Live Activities to everyone, though the rollout of supported apps for the feature seems a little slow. Live Activities are notifications that are timely and contain information that is updated in real-time. This is useful for things like Uber, food delivery apps, sports scores, flight trackers, weather, cooking apps, and more.

However, watchOS notifications still don’t support Live Activities, but perhaps this can change with watchOS 10. It would be convenient to just take a glance at your wrist to see when your Uber is arriving, rather than pulling your iPhone out of your pocket constantly. Or if you left your phone in the other room but you’re wondering when your DoorDash order is going to arrive, just check with a flick of your wrist.

It’s time for some big watchOS changes

The Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE 2.
Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch SE 2 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The last few years of Apple Watch upgrades have been pretty modest, so it’s definitely time for Apple to shake things up a bit. Gurman says that the Apple Watch Series 9 may just be another modest upgrade this year, so if there are any big changes, it will definitely have to be on the software side of things.

These are five of the biggest things that I hope watchOS 10 brings this year. Hopefully, Apple provides at least one or two of these once watchOS 10 is announced.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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