Along with the launch of the Series 5 Watch at yesterday’s Cupertino, California event, Apple has revealed that watchOS 6 will be available to download from September 19th. The next version of the operating system comes with a stand-alone app store, new health functionality, apps, complications and watch faces.
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At the outset WatchOS 6 will only be available for Apple Watch Series 3 and above. Those with Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 will need to wait for “later this fall”.
Series 5 owners will, of course, receive their device starting September 20th with WatchOS 6 already installed. Rather unexpectedly, it was revealed yesterday that the next generation device comes with an always-on retina display. The battery life is the same and there’s still no native sleep tracking.
The watch also slaps on a compass and current elevation feature to help users better navigate their day. Emergency calling has been expanded to over 150 countries. Other than that, everything else seems to be the same as in the Series 4 model.
WatchOS 6, though, should introduce several features we’ve not seen before. Here’s what you can look forward to.
Stand-alone app store
Apple added LTE connectivity to Series 3 in 2017, but users still had to use a companion application on their iPhone to download and install apps. That’s all changing now and you’ll be able to download apps on the go via an App Store that sits directly on the watch.
The functionality enables users to browse apps or search for favorite apps. They’ll be able to read descriptions, reviews, look at screen shots and do a Siri app search – all from their wrist.
Apple has added more watch-faces this time around than since the release of the first Apple Watch. This includes a gradient watch face that spits out a gradient look out of colors you choose, two new ‘X-Large’ watch faces, a ‘California’ classic watch face that mixes Roman numerals with Arabic numerals and a ‘Solar Analog’ watch face that visualizes the sun’s 24 hour path around the dial.
You’ll are able to set the Taptic Engine inside the watch to silently tap out the hour. Or set a chime to ring, instead. Hold two fingers on your watch face, and it will read out the time.
Apple enhanced its app complications last year and it is adding more complications in 2019. The new ones will show decibel levels, cellular strength, rain data and more.
Apple is also coming out with new apps for the watch. This includes Calculator, Voice Memos and Books for listening to audio books from your wrist.
Some of these can do some nifty tricks. For example, you can use the Calculator’s special functions to work out how much to tip the waiter. It even has the ability to split tips with friends at the tap of a button. These additions will make the watch even more useful and lessen the need to use your phone for basic, everyday tasks.
Developers will be able to create apps that run independently on the watch – no longer requiring a companion smartphone app. There’s also support for streaming audio API and an extended runtime API. All of his will enable a whole new generation of apps.
New health and fitness capabilities
The health upgrades will see the launch of a very cool Hearing Health app which features a decibel meter that moves in real time as sounds change. It will provide an alert if the noise is loud enough to negatively affect your hearing health. Apple says, the software periodically samples surrounding audio and does not save or record anything.
A menstrual cycle tracking app called Cycles has also been slapped on. The software gives women the ability to log cycle information and see predicted timing for their next period and fertile window.
The app will install on the Apple Watch by default when watchOS 6 rolls out. Fitbit was the first to launch a female health tracking app, and a couple of weeks ago Garmin followed up with its own version. Now Apple is jumping onto the bandwagon.
The cycle tracking app will also be able to run without an Apple Watch, in the iPhone Health app with iOS 13. And while we are on the subject, the smartphone Health app is also getting some love.
watchOS 6 brings activity trends instead of the classic monthly view we’ve become accustomed to seeing. The app will compare your activity over the last 90 days to the last 365 days. It will show if you’re trending up or down and will provide you with suggestions on how to improve these averages. The Health app will also get a new summary view, automatically generated highlights and more.
We’ve covered some of the most noteworthy additions in watchOS 6. Check out a few of the other updates in the screen-shot below.
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