Portraits on watchOS 8 is a clever and delightful take on featuring photos with Apple Watch

Apple Watch is introducing a new version of the Photos face in watchOS 8 this fall called Portraits. It’s a delightful addition that puts a new spin on what Apple says is the most popular watch face among users.

What is a Portrait photo?

watchOS 8 is currently available in beta version for early adopters. The Apple Watch software update will be readily available to all users around September.

The Portraits watch face has a clever party trick that works with photos taken back as far as the iPhone 7 Plus. The dual-lensed back camera introduced almost five years ago was the first iPhone capable of shooting Portrait photos.

Portrait photos use differences in depth to create an out-of-focus background to create a bokeh effect while keeping the subject in focus. The software trick mirrors want much larger lenses capture on dedicated cameras.

iphone xs max depth

Today Portrait support is widely available across lots of iPhone models with support for single-lens cameras, front-facing cameras, and different focal points. The Portraits watch face works with all of these Portrait photos in your photo library dating back to September 2016.

How the Portraits face works

iOS 15 and watchOS 8 introduces support for the Portraits face using the iPhone and Apple Watch. A Portraits face is created from the Watch app on the iPhone. Users can choose up to 24 compatible photos to be featured in the Portraits face on the Apple Watch. There are three clock styles, a complication slot for the date, and a complication slot for more options.

You can start with a single photo to create a Portraits watch face before adding more to the watch face’s rotation. The featured photo changes each time you check the time on your Apple Watch. If you want to feature more than 24 Portrait photos or use multiple clock styles, you can add additional Portraits watch faces to choose between from the Watch app on the iPhone.