Apple’s Watch is one heck of a piece of hardware, but the excellent bits and pieces are nothing without excellent software. And with watchOS 6, Apple is hoping to make its already excellent wearable even more useful. But how could it possibly do that, you cry? Well, turns out the Watch actually has room for improvement. We know, right?
Not just a pretty face
Apple’s new watchOS wouldn’t be an update without a collection of new digital faces. The options that Apple showed off certainly do look the part, with bold, colourful, well-designed faces being an option. So it’s business as usual for Apple. There are also new bands coming later in the year, including a Pride Edition band that goes with a Pride Edition face.
Apple’s also introducing something called Taptic Chimes — which is an hourly notification that pairs an hourly noise along with some haptic feedback. Interesting that they’ve opted to install a feature that used to be part of pretty much any digital wristwatch. We’re sure it’ll prove useful, though.
App-y we came
There are a collection of new and updated apps heading to watchOS 6. Prime are new Audiobook and Voice Memos apps, letting you listen to or record to your heart’s content. There’s also a new Calculator, able to split the bill and calculate tips. Plus, you’ll feel like you’re rocking an awesome retro calculator watch.
Independent apps are coming to the Watch, too. That is, apps that don’t require any sort of companion device. Apple’s arranging a new Streaming Audio API: This means users will be able to stream using the Watch itself. Spotify on your wrist with a cellular Watch? Yes please. Now if Vodacom and other service providers would just sort out that whole eSIM thing for Apple devices… and, you know, Apple would start supporting the world’s most popular music streaming service (it isn’t Apple Music, soz).
Oh yes, and the App Store is also coming to the Watch in watchOS 6 — everything should be possible, from browsing apps, right up to completing purchases of the paid-for ones. Yes, Android fans, paid apps are really a thing, especially on Apple devices.
I like to move it, move it
Apple’s watchOS 6 is also getting more active. Activity trends is a feature that increases the scope of the activity tracking the Watch is known for. The operating system update will offer users 90 days of data, which are compared to the past year’s info. An upward trend is good, while a downward trend results in some advice — via your iPhone’s more detailed report.
Apple’s also tackling hearing health — The Apple Watch will notify users whether ambient noise is loud enough to damage hearing. And then you can move away or pop in some earplugs. Of note? No audio is recorded or transmitted to Apple. Privacy. Apple’s really fond of it this year. Especially if it means sticking it to its rivals.
Cycle Tracking is also coming to watchOS — this feature is designed for women, to facilitate tracking of menstrual cycles. There’s simple graphical representation, for ease of use on the Watch, and users are going to be able to log symptoms and get fertility info. The app is also coming to iOS, so the Watch (and watchOS 6) isn’t actually required.