Apple Watch Series 9 can handle Siri requests without your iPhone

It’s September, which means the air is thick with the promise of fall, school is back in session, and Apple just revealed a new Apple Watch. This year, the company is showing off the Apple Watch Series 9. The Series 9 features a new processor, the S9 chip, and a quad-core neural engine, which promises 18-hour battery life and overall performance boosts. On the software side, watchOS 10 is poised to be the biggest UI overhaul in Apple Watch history, with a renewed focus on widgets, and a slew of app and input updates.

The new neural engine enables offline Siri access, which means you won’t need your iPhone nearby to interact with Apple’s digital assistant on the Series 9. The engine also processes AI tasks twice as fast as the previous iteration, and it powers new gestures. The Series 9 has a 30 percent faster GPU, and it uses a new, second-generation ultra wideband chip that unlocks precise object location for other UWB devices.

With watchOS 10, Apple is returning to its wearable roots. The original Apple Watch UI revolved around Glances, which offered a carousel of widgets and other features, but the company eventually transitioned to an app-first UI. WatchOS 10 puts widgets front-and-center once more, in a style similar to the existing Siri watch face. Rotating the digital crown opens a smart stack of widgets, and apps like timers, stopwatches and podcast players will populate as widgets when they’re in use.

Other watchOS 10 upgrades include the ability to view FaceTime video messages and join Group FaceTime audio, track power and heart rate data during cycling sessions, and update your emotional state in the Mindfulness app using the digital crown. The software update also adds useful features to the Compass app, including a pin that will automatically drop near the last place you had cellular connection, which will be particularly useful while hiking and camping. Physical controls are changing with watchOS 10, too — press the side button to open the Control Center and double-press the digital crown to see recently used apps.

Of course, you won’t need a shiny new Series 9 to take advantage of these new features. The watchOS 10 update will be available on Apple Watch Series 4 and later models.

The Apple Watch hasn’t seen a significant design update in years, with incremental hardware and software changes in each new model since the Series 6 in 2020. This makes the S9 processor upgrade in the Series 9 notable. Bundle that with the rollout of watchOS 10, and it’s a mildly exciting year for Apple Watch wearers.

Follow all of the news live from Apple’s ‘Wonderlust’ event right here.

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