watchOS 11: Rumored features, supported devices, and more

Apple Watch Ultra 2 Series 9 and Watch SE together
(Image credit: Future / Britta O'Boyle)

Apple's watchOS 11 is due to launch this year, alongside the long-anticipated Apple Watch X. WWDC 2024 has finally been announced and, like previous years, we will hear the specifics of the next major watchOS on June 10 when the event goes live. Then, we can expect to test out watchOS 11 for ourselves in September this year. 

To make up for such a big hardware launch with the Apple Watch X, software changes are reported to be "fairly minor", though this doesn't mean there won't be some nice changes for owners familiar with the OS. 

Despite there not being too many major announcements, when it comes to the specifics of the software, there are quite a few rumors about what we are expecting to see, like greater AI support, RCS integration, and more. Here's everything we know about watchOS 11 so far, from the release date to our most wanted features.

The story so far

iOS 17 image showing StandBy

(Image credit: Apple)

When Apple released watchOS 10 on September of 2023 it brought with it a number of new features. As is so often the case with big software updates, some of those features were bigger than others. But some were definitely notable.

The watchOS 10 update brought a new look to almost all of Apple's apps, making better use of the display space and making the apps feel faster than ever. A new Smart Stack was also added when rotating the Digital Crown, bringing widgets to the Apple Watch in a whole new way.

Apple also chose to change the way Control Center is launched by making it available from a press of the side button, while new watch faces were added as has become the norm. The usual workout improvements were added, while mental health additions saw mood logging brought to the Apple Watch.

watchOS 11: Rumored features

watchOS 11: A focus on AI

While it hasn't been explicitly mentioned to date, we can likely expect the watchOS 11 update to bring some improvements to Siri based on leaks relating to iOS 18 in particular. Rumors suggest that Apple is working on a new Large Language Model-equipped update that will make Siri more responsive and more useful, something that has been long overdue.

If this is the case we may well see Siri on the Apple Watch grow to become a more capable way of interacting with apps and information without needing to reach for the screen. That alone might make it easier for people to leave their iPhones at home, too.

watchOS 11: RCS support

iPhone 14 with messages app open being held in front of green wall

(Image credit: John-Anthony Disotto)

Another feature that is likely to come from iOS 18 is RCS support. Apple has already confirmed that it bring RCS to the iPhone in 2024, although a firm timeframe for the release has so far gone unconfirmed. That suggests that iOS 18 will be the delivery mechanism for RCS, and with Apple Watches also supporting SMS functionality we can expect watchOS 11 to follow suit.

RCS is a replacement for the old SMS system and will allow rich text messaging and media transmission with Android devices in particular, making iMessage less of an important feature for many.

watchOS 11: What we'd like to see

In terms of watchOS 11 wishlists, there's only one big addition that many would like to see — third-party watch faces.

The screen that everyone sees the majority of the time on their Apple Watch is the watch face, and the lack of any meaningful way to customize it beyond colors and complications seems like a missed opportunity. It's been that way since 2014 and the fact we're still waiting a decade later is a huge disappointment.

As much as it seems unlikely Apple will add third-party watch faces at this point, it doesn't hurt to dream.

watchOS 11: Expected release date

iPhone 15 Plus review

(Image credit: Future)

Apple has found itself in a release cadence that sees it announce new software at WWDC in June and then make it available to customers in September and that's the case in 2024, too.

Apple will unveil watchOS 11 alongside iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15, and tvOS 18 at WWDC before rolling out public and developer beta programs that run for the subsequent four months. If it follows its own pattern the new updates will ship alongside updated Apple Watches in September, too.

watchOS 11: Compatible devices

We can of course expect the watchOS 11 update to be compatible with all the best Apple Watches, but we don't expect that you will have to buy a new wearable to get it. The watchOS 10 update is compatible with the Apple Watch Series 4 or later as well as the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Ultra models.

As for watchOS 11, it's possible that may need to drop support for some older models, but that will very much depend on which new features will be added this year. Depending on what those changes are, the new software might not require any more GPU or CPU horsepower than the outgoing watchOS 10.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

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