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watchOS 6 preview brings Watch-only apps, new faces, and features

By Kai Ping Lew
Thu 6 Jun 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Apple has previewed watchOS 6, which empowers Apple Watch users to better manage their health and fitness, and gives access to dynamic new watch faces and the App Store directly on Apple Watch.

“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,” says Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams.

“watchOS 6 extends our commitment to helping users better manage their health and fitness with powerful and personal new tools.”

Health and fitness

The new Cycle Tracking app gives women the ability to log important information related to their menstrual cycles and see predicted timing for their next period and fertile window using the Apple Watch. 

The daily log function enables the quick addition of information related to the menstrual cycle, including current period, flow, symptoms, results from ovulation prediction kits and other elements of fertility tracking.

The new Cycle Tracking feature is also available on iPhone with iOS 13.

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 users 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 Organisation.

Customers are passionate about closing their Activity rings and the new Trends tab in the Activity app on iPhone now gives users a long-term view of their activity behaviour to help them understand their progress.

At a glance, the tab shows whether the trends are up or down for key metrics such as active kilojoules, 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 the user get back on track.

App store and Apps

For the first time, watchOS 6 brings the App Store directly to Apple Watch.

Users can 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 customisation options offering more personalisation and access to favourite apps, contacts and information. These include: Modular Compact, Solar, 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.3
  • Apple GymKit compatibility extends to manufacturers Octane Fitness, TRUE Fitness and Woodway, connecting Apple Watch to more cardio equipment in clubs around the world.

Privacy

All Apple Watch features are designed to protect user privacy.

None of the audio or sounds in the environment are saved by the Noise app or sent to Apple — only the decibel level is sampled.

The information from Apple Watch health features, including the new Cycle Tracking app, will be visible within the redesigned Health app on iOS 13.

All data is encrypted on-device and if iCloud back up is selected by the user, data is encrypted in iCloud.

Winter Watch Bands

New colours of the Sport Band and Sport Loop in Canary Yellow, Dragon Fruit and Cornflower are available beginning today, along with a new Pride Edition Sport Loop with a donation being made to the following LGBTQ advocacy organisations: Encircle, Gender Spectrum, GLSEN, ILGA, PFLAG, the National Center for Transgender Equality and The Trevor Project.

Pricing and Availability

The developer preview of watchOS 6 is available to Apple Developer Program members starting today.

New software features will be available this spring as a free software update for Apple Watch Series 1 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 13 or later.

Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.

New Apple Watch band colours are available to order online and in the Apple Store app, and will be available later this week at select Apple Authorised Resellers. 

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