Apple Releases watchOS 8.1, tvOS 15.1, and HomePod 15.1 Software

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released watchOS 8.1 and tvOS 15.1.

According to Apple's release notes, watchOS 8.1 includes the following improvements and bug fixes:

  • Enhanced algorithms to detect falls during workouts and option to enable fall detection during workouts only (Apple Watch Series 4 and later)
  • COVID-19 vaccination card support allows you to present verifiable vaccination information from Apple Wallet
  • Fitness+ supports SharePlay to allow subscribers to invite up to 32 people to workout together through a FaceTime call using iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV
  • Always On may not display the time accurately for some users when their wrist is down (Apple Watch Series 5 and later)

Other than the annual major release, tvOS updates are typically minor in scale, focusing on under-the-hood bug fixes and performance improvements rather than outward-facing changes. We don't yet know the full extent of any changes in tvOS 15.1 release as Apple typically does not make release notes available for the Apple TV, but we do know that it brings support for SharePlay. We will update this post if anything else notable is reported.

At the time of posting, we are unaware of any fixes, enhancements or regressions for blind and low vision users in watchOS 8.1 or tvOS 15.1. To help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, please let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own use of these releases.

Apple today also released a new 15.1 software update for the HomePod and the HomePod mini. According to MacRumors “the ‌HomePod‌ update introduces Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio to Apple's HomePods.”

Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos can be enabled through the Home app. Open up Home Settings, tap on your profile, and then under Media, tap on Apple Music. From there, toggle on Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos.

How to Update

watchOS 8.1 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or by going to the Watch app on your iPhone and navigating to General> Software Update. To install the update, your Watch must be connected to its charger and have at least 50% battery power.

More information on how to update the software on your Apple Watch is available on this Apple Support page.

To install tvOS 15.1 on Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD, go to the Settings channel, then look for the System section near the bottom. From here, look for Software Updates under Maintenance, then select Update Software and Download and Install.

More information on how to update the software on your Apple TV is available on this Apple Support page.

By default, HomePod and HomePod mini automatically install new software updates, but you can manually check for updates in the Home app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. See this Apple support article for full instructions.



Submitted by Chris Bruinenberg on Tuesday, October 26, 2021

wow, this update sucks!
So it will bring up the keyboard on my phone whenever the keyboard is brought up on the watch! Isn't this pointless?
THe dictate button is still not reading plus dictation hardly works now?
anybody else experiencing these issues?
I'm starting to think it's time to leave apple.

Submitted by SmoothJazzyTrumpet on Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Anyone else having issues reading battery status or maybe it's just me? I have Watch 8.1 on series 5. I do the same gesture I would do in regards to say using the phone to see the status bar which has a place to see the battery level, but nothing's happening on my watch.

Submitted by Kerry Fielding on Sunday, October 31, 2021

Dictation on the Apple Watch certainly has some issues. For me, it’s not so much the accuracy, rather the ability to read it back. I go to the dictate button, dictate my text, then double tap so that I can read the information and nothing happens.

I end up double tapping multiple times, and still then I can’t always get it to read. As for battery status, I haven’t seen the issue whereby I am unable to see it on my watch. I have a series 6 and I’m running watchOS 8.1.

Submitted by Kerry Fielding on Sunday, October 31, 2021

So, I just downloaded HomePod OS 15.1 as, for reasons best known only to itself, it did not automatically update. Even before this, I have discovered that getting a particular episode of a particular podcast to play using Siri just doesn’t seem to work for me. My current example is the podcast twenty thousand Hertz. I have literally just come across this podcast due to the Be My Eyes newsletter. So, thought I would start at the very beginning. When I asked Siri to play episode one of 20,000 Hertz, my HomePod mini Pear did exactly as I asked and I listen to a fascinating episode on the original voice behind Siri. However, when I asked for episode two, I got episode 132 which is the most recent episode created and came out on the 27th of October 2021. This is not the first time I have had issues getting the exact episode of a specific podcast to play, but wondered if it was something I was doing. rather than A bug. can anyone else replicate? And with different podcasts?