Apple offers most Apple Watch users ten brand-new features with watchOS 6, which should also run faster than before.
The new Apple Watch Series 5 (from $399) with its always-on display seems to be attracting positive reviews.If you’re using a Series 3 or 4 the new operating system delivers a much-improved experience, just like owning a new watch.
Apple will release iOS 13 and watchOS 6 on September 19 with the Apple Watch Series 5 and iPhone 11 range on sale in store from September 20.
The company is offering the new OS to all currently supported Apple Watch models (ie, not the Series 0 versions). It won’t ship for Series 1 and 2 models until later this fall. You need iPhone 6s or later running iOS 13 or later to install the upgrade.
The company says three-quarters (75%) of Apple Watch buyers are completely new to the device, which suggests both that the market is growing and that Apple now has a pool of existing customers who may choose to upgrade in future.
That pool will likely grow, now it sells the entry-level model of Series 3 watch for $199.
So, what’s new in the new OS?
You get new watch faces
For reasons no one really understands, Apple continues to resist demand to introduce a watch face store, preferring instead to dripfeed new watch faces inside each OS iteration.
The new OS maintains this tradition introducing Modular Compact, Solar Dial, California, Gradient, Numerals Mono, and Numerals Duo faces, though not all of these work on every watch model.
One more timekeeping improvement: You can also ask the Taptic engine to tap the time on your wrist, or hold two fingers on your watchface to make it tell you the time audibly.
[Also read: How to use Apple’s 6 cool new watchOS 6 tools]
You’ll know when you’re turning into a couch potato
Apple has made several improvements in its health app, but the introduction of Activity Trends will give you even better insight into your activity levels.
Activity Trends shows your exercise, stand minutes, distance, cardio fitness and movement trends over the last 90-days in comparison to the previous 365 days. That means you’ll be able to see when your fitness activity is declining. Activity will also provide you with coaching suggestions to get you back on track.
You get new Complications
Complications are those useful apps you can choose to make visible on your watchface. New Complications in watchOS 6 include current decibel levels, cellular strength, or chance of rain.
Putting women in control
The new Cycle Tracking app can be used to log daily information about menstrual cycles. Women can add flow information, record symptoms like headaches or cramps, and check cycle length and variation using a chart provided in your iPhone’s Health app.
As you enter the data, Health generates insights about you and your Apple Watch will let you know when it thinks your next period may begin and when you should be at your most fertile.
Voice memos on your wrist
Want to record a quick memo to yourself? Apple has added a Voice Memos app. Open the app by tapping it the App screen, or asking Siri, and then tap the large red button to begin recording. Tap the big button again to make recording stop. The memo will be saved and made available across all your logged-in Apple devices. It can even be exported for transcription.
You get new apps…
Apple has added a Calculator and redesigned the Reminders app. The calculator has prebuilt controls to help you figure out tips and share bills. You can find out how these work here.
Apple has also introduced the Noise app, which listens to the noise around you and lets you know when it detects that the noise decibel level has reached a point at which it can damage hearing. When it does, Noise will tap you on your wrist to let you know.
You can recognize new songs
Apple’s recently acquired Shazam song recognition service is now built into your watch.
This is very easy to use – just raise your wrist and ask what song is playing. It works even when you don’t have your iPhone, so long as you use a cellular-enabled watch to connect to the ‘Net.
An App Store anywhere
One of the biggest improvements is the inclusion of a new App Store on Apple Watch, so you can search for and download apps to your watch without an iPhone. You can search for apps by name and check trending apps and download and install them directly to your device.
Apple has been moving to make the watch more independent of the iPhone since Apple Watch Series 3, which introduced a cellular version.
Today you can make calls, use and download apps and most everything else with your watch, no iPhone required. Though you do still need an iPhone for upgrading the software.
Developers can build new apps
Keep an eye on your app updates after the new operating systems ship. In part this is because watchOS 6 includes new developer tools that let them build apps to stream music, radio, and podcasts. It is also now possible to build watch-only apps.
Apple made several developer-focused improvements in watchOS 6, including theprovision of extended runtime to sensor data, which means you can reasonably predict new apps for various tasks, perhaps led by workout and mindfulness apps – Strava, for example.
You’ll also find Sign-in With Apple and Apple ID verification codes when you need to log in to your Apple account appear on Apple Watch.
You can browse the Web
Ask Siri to open your favorite website and you’ll be able to browse it on your watch, navigating the page using the Digital Crown. You can also search for websites and information using Siri on your watch.
And listen to audiobooks
Another new app, Audiobooks does precisely what it promises – lets you listen to your audiobooks using your watch. Titles are split between ‘On iPhone’ and ‘Library’ categories, the latter are items stored on your watch that you can hear even if you don’t carry your phone. Built-in controls let you move backward and forward in 15 second increments. You can also select chapters and control the playback rate and volume.
How to install the new watchOS
You must be using an iPhone 6S or later running iOS 13 to upgrade your Apple Watch to watchOS 6. You should also backup your data before you follow these steps:
- Connect both the phone and watch to power. NB: Apple Watch needs to be on 50% power and connected to power for this to work.
- Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
- Tap General, then choose Software Update.
- The new watchOS update process should be listed there, tap it to begin the process.
- You’ll need to keep both the phone and the watch within a few feet of each other during the upgrade, which can take a while.
Please let me know if you find any other interesting or unknown features inside watchOS 6.
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