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Apple Watch Series 9: Top 4 features that warrant the upgrade from Series 8

The latest Apple Watch doesn't have the flashiest of upgrades, but these four should make a big difference to usability.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on
Apple Watch Series 9 Colors
June Wan/ZDNET

We've been waiting for Apple to launch a new lineup of iPhones for months now, but the new Apple Watch is also a highly expected drop. Apple's flagship wearable, the Apple Watch and, more recently, the Apple Watch Ultra have become the go-to fitness trackers for iPhone users. 

But beyond fitness, wearing an Apple Watch extends the Apple ecosystem for users, as it works much like an extension of your iPhone, giving you access to many of the apps and games available for the smartphone.

Also: Everything announced at Apple's 'Wonderlust event'

Apple had already built up a lot of hype for Apple Watch updates with the WatchOS 10, the latest version of the wearable's operating system. But even if consumers welcome software changes, these new Series 9 exclusive features will catch many people's eye. 

The Apple Watch Series 9 can be preordered now at a starting price of $399, and will officially be available on September 22.

1. Double-tap feature

The Apple Watch Series 9 will let you control it by simply tapping your index finger and thumb twice. In an innovative leap towards accessibility, Series 9 users will be able to answer and end calls, stop timers, snooze alarms, play and pause music, and more, just by double-tapping two fingers on the hand wearing the Watch. 

Apple Watch Double Tap Demoed
June Wan/ZDNET

This is possible thanks to an algorithm that combines data gathered by the accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor to detect unique changes in hand movement when the users tap their index and thumb together twice within a short timeframe. 

Also: You can already use the Apple Watch's double-tap feature. Here's how

When the Apple Watch Series 9 is on the home screen, wearers can double-tap to access the smart stack and then double-tap again to scroll through the widgets. 

2. A new S9 SiP

Apple Watch against black backdrop
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Though the Series 9 has a wide, edge-to-edge display, what's on the inside makes it a better day-to-day companion. The Apple Watch Series 9 also boasts a new Apple Silicon processor, the S9 SiP, which will be the same chip on the Apple Watch Ultra 2. The redesigned Apple Watch processor features 5.6 billion transistors for a 30% faster GPU, making animations and effects on the Watch look smoother. 

Also: Buying an Apple Watch? Here's how to pick the best one for you

With a second-generation ultra wideband chip, the Apple Watch Series 9 will now give you the distance and direction of your iPhone when trying to find it, even if it's in another room. It also features new HomePod integrations, letting you control nearby HomePods when you approach them. 

The Series 9 is also better at processing speech, as it is 25% more accurate in dictation.

3. More detailed Siri prompts

Apple Watch Series 9 specs on black backdrop

The S9 SiP's 4-core neural engine allows smarter Siri requests that are now processed on the Watch without relying on the cloud or cellular connectivity. This makes for faster and, hopefully, more accurate responses from the voice assistant.

Users will also enjoy a new integration of Siri with the Health app, making accessing Health data through Siri easier. Apple Watch Series 9 users can ask Siri, "How many hours did I sleep last night?" or tell it to log a workout. This feature is available in English and Mandarin, expanding to more languages in the future.

4. A new look

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

The Apple Watch Series 9 is now available in a new pink aluminum case. This is a simple change that has been widely expected and requested. 

Consumers will have the choice of a pink, starlight, silver, midnight, or Product(Red) aluminum Apple Watch Series 9. A stainless steel version will also be available in gold and graphite.

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