During its highly anticipated WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple announced watchOS 6 with a number of new features and improvements. Among those features are new watch faces, hourly audio chimes—such as birds chirping and streaming audio APIs. Apple has also added new apps such as Calculator and Audio Books, and helped the Watch gain further independence from the iPhone.
“Apple Watch has become an indispensable part of our customers’ everyday lives, from helping users stay connected to the people and information they care about, to inspiring them to live a better and more active day,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “watchOS 6 extends our commitment to helping users better manage their health and fitness with powerful and personal new tools.”
The new Trends tab in the Activity app on iPhone now gives you a long-term view of your activity behavior to help you understand your progress. At a glance, the tab shows whether the trends are up or down for key metrics such as active calories, exercise minutes, walking pace and others. If the last 90 days of activity shows a downward trend relative to the last 365 days, the Activity app offers coaching to help you get back on track.
Maintenance of hearing health positively impacts the quality of life and studies have shown that hearing loss has been associated with cognitive decline. With the optimal position of Apple Watch on the wrist, the Noise app helps you understand the sound levels in environments such as concerts and sporting events that could negatively impact hearing. As the sound levels change, the app’s decibel meter moves in real time. The watch can send a notification if the decibel level reaches 90 decibels, which can begin to impact hearing after four hours per week of exposure at this level, according to the World Health Organization.
App Store and Apps
For the first time, watchOS 6 brings the App Store directly to Apple Watch. You can easily install third-party apps, search for apps using Siri, dictation or Scribble and view app product pages designed for the watch screen right from the wrist. Developers can build Apple Watch-only apps, created to work independently on Apple Watch without an iOS app.
Additional watchOS 6 Updates
- watchOS 6 introduces dynamic new watch faces and customization options offering more personalization and access to favorite apps, contacts and information. These include: Modular Compact, Solar Dial, California, Gradient and Numerals faces.
- New developer tools include an audio API to stream music, radio and podcasts, an API to give extended runtime to session-based tasks, such as physical therapy and meditation, and Core ML now uses the Apple Neural Engine on Apple Watch Series 4, enabling faster processing of on-device inputs.
- The popular Voice Memos app is now available on Apple Watch.
- Audiobooks purchased on Apple Books are now available to listen to directly from the new Audiobooks app on the watch.
- The new Calculator app helps with tip calculations and splitting checks right from the wrist.
- Siri search queries can display webpage results in full on Apple Watch.
- Apple GymKit compatibility extends to manufacturers Octane Fitness, TRUE Fitness and Woodway, connecting Apple Watch to more cardio equipment in clubs around the world.
As with the rest of Apple’s platform updates, watchOS 6 is available for developer beta today, public beta in a few weeks, and it will be released to the public this fall.