Apple just previewed one of its biggest ever upgrades to watchOS at WWDC 2019.
Just as expected watchOS 6 makes Apple Watch less dependent on the iPhone with its very own App Store. It also brings brand news faces and complications — and new apps like Audiobooks, Voice Memos, and Calculator.
The Apple Watch is just over four years old now. It’s an established product with a growing user base, and it has successfully secured a future in Apple’s product lineup. There’s no question about whether or not it’s just a gimmick anymore.
That means Watch fans now expect big things from every watchOS update. We don’t just want a few token improvements here and there; we want to see Apple taking great steps to push the platform forward.
This fall’s watchOS 6 update will do exactly that. Here’s what you have to look forward to.
watchOS 6 turns its back on iPhone
LTE connectivity made Apple Watch a little less reliant on the iPhone. If you have a cellular model you can leave your phone at home without missing calls, texts, and other notifications. But that was about all LTE was good for.
With watchOS 6, you can do more than ever without having an iPhone nearby. A brand new App Store means you can finally install new watchOS apps and games right on your wrist, and developers can build apps just for Watch — without an iPhone component.
Brand new apps
Apple has a few new apps of its own, too. Audiobooks lets you find and listen to your favorite titles on your Watch itself, while Voice Memos lets you record audio. There’s also a Calculator app for quick math, and it includes a handy tip calculator.
New faces and complications
watchOS 6 packs more faces than Apple Watch has ever had before, and its newest options are stunning. There’s a gradient face for those who like color and simplicity, a new large digital face for those who just want the numbers, and a new solar face.
The new California face is one of Apple’s nicest so far, with great customization options and support for a number of rich complications.
These new faces come with support for a new feature Apple calls Taptic Chimes. This gives you a nudge on the hour so that you can keep track of the time without looking, and if you have sound enabled, you’ll get an audible chime, too.
Sadly, we still don’t have support for third-party Watch faces.
New health and fitness features
If you use your Apple Watch for health and fitness, there’s loads to look forward to in watchOS 6. That includes Activity Trends, which gives you an overview of your workout progress over time, and lets you quickly find out if you’re on the right track.
Here are some other new health and fitness features:
Hearing health: New hearing health features in watchOS 6 will alert you when the ambient noise around you is too loud. It will even give you a decibel reading right on your wrist.
Menstrual cycle tracking: watchOS 6 lets you track your menstrual cycle on Apple Watch for the first time. You can tell it when you’re on your period and log your flow, and it will tell you when you’re fertile.
There are new complications for these features that will let you keep an eye on important stats at a glance.
Streaming audio API
Apple Watch is getting a streaming audio API for the first time in watchOS 6, and that’s huge. It means you’ll be able to stream audio from Apple Music and third-party services for the first time.
MLB’s new watchOS app, which Apple demoed today, is one that will take advantage of this API to provide you with live game commentary while you check on the latest scores.
watchOS 6 rolls out this fall
watchOS 6 will roll out to everyone as a free update this fall. The first developer beta is available today. It’s not yet clear which Apple Watch models will be supported, but we’ll update this post as soon as we find out.