Hands-On With watchOS 6: Dedicated App Store, New Watch Faces, Noise Monitoring, Calculator App and More

Apple at the 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference introduced watchOS 6, the latest version of the software designed for the Apple Watch. watchOS 6 brings some notable improvements to watchOS, including new apps, a dedicated App Store, new watch faces, updated health features, and tons more.

watchOS 6 is limited to developers and won't be available as a public beta ahead of its fall launch, so we thought we'd take a look at the software to give MacRumors readers a hands-on look at what's coming to the watch later this year.


For the first time, watchOS 6 brings a dedicated ‌App Store‌ to the Apple Watch, letting you search for, browse, and download apps right on your wrist even when an iPhone isn't available. The update also further untethers the watch from the ‌iPhone‌, as it allows developers to create apps that are just for the Apple Watch and don't need to be tied to a companion ‌iPhone‌ app.

watchos6appstore
There are also some exciting new APIs that will bring new functionality to third-party apps, including a new runtime API for accessing sensor data for a longer period of time. The longer runtime API will lead to apps that can, as an example, guide you through a meditation or a workout.

A new streaming audio API will let third-party apps stream audio for the first time, so you can listen to streaming content with just your watch. Streaming audio support was previously limited to Apple Music.

There are quite a few new watch faces in watchOS 6, including Numerals Mono and Numerals Duo, focusing on huge numbers; Modular Compact, which puts an analog watch face next to larger complications; a gradient watch face that shifts over the course of the day; a Solar Dial watch face that visualizes the sun in a 24 hour path around the dial; and the California watch face, which offers standard analog dials and a mix of regular numbers and roman numerals.

watchos6ewatchfaces
With the exception of the Numerals Mono and Numerals Duo watch faces, the new watch face options are designed for the larger display of the Series 4 and are limited to the Series 4 devices. Though not part of watchOS 6, Apple in June also debuted new Pride watch face options.

Apple added a Taptic Chimes feature in watchOS 6, designed to provide a silent touch on your wrist at every hour. If sound is turned on, you'll hear an audible chime. Another new feature, holding two fingers on the watch face, lets you hear the time spoken out loud.

There are several new apps on the Apple Watch, including Audiobooks, Voice Memos, and Calculator, which lets you do calculations right on your wrist and even calculate tips and bill splits. There's also a new Noise app for tracking the decibel levels of environmental sound or music you're listening to on your earbuds to make sure you're not accidentally damaging your hearing health.

watchos6apps
The Noise app is designed to send you a notification if it detects a decibel level over 90 decibels, which can impact hearing over time. Noise is a feature limited to Series 4 Apple Watch models.

watchosnoise
Reminders has an iOS 13-style redesign, Messages supports Animoji stickers, and there's also a new Cycle Tracking app designed to let women track their menstrual cycles.

cycleappwatchos6
Activity Trends, viewable on the ‌iPhone‌, is a new watchOS 6 feature that compares various fitness metrics from the last 90 days to the last 365 days to chart your progress and to make sure your overall fitness trends are improving.

activitytrendsapplewatch
There are new complications, many of which are related to new apps and features. You can see a measurement of the current wind speed or the chance of rain, and a Noise complication provides a meter of the current decibel level. Voice Memos lets you quickly record a memo, cellular strength provides a readout of the current signal level on an LTE Apple Watch, and Calculator opens up the Calculator app.

watchos6complications
Siri can provide full web search results when asked a question, and ‌Siri‌ is also able to identify songs via Shazam even when an ‌iPhone‌ isn't nearby. For Mac users, the Apple Watch can now approve security prompts when the side button is tapped, and it will also now display Apple ID verification codes when logging into an Apple account on a new device or browser.

siriwebsearch
When it launches in the fall, watchOS 6 will be available on all Apple Watch models with the exception of the original Apple Watch, released in 2015. For more on what's new in watchOS 6, make sure to check out our watchOS 6 roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 8
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
45 months ago
We’re getting very close to the point where you can decide to own a Watch as your primary device or even exclusively, without a phone.
I'm waiting for the "What's an iPad?" ad in which a small child edits a film on their Apple Watch.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ipedro Avatar
45 months ago
We’re getting very close to the point where you can decide to own a Watch as your primary device or even exclusively, without a phone.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MisterSavage Avatar
45 months ago
Why can't I get a digital watch face with hours, minutes, seconds?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jent Avatar
45 months ago
It may take a few years but I hope Apple eventually releases a custom watch face store/builder.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SeenJeen Avatar
45 months ago
as a man I am relieved to finally be able to keep track of my menstrual cycle from my wrist.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Oilbrnr Avatar
45 months ago
as a man I am relieved to finally be able to keep track of my menstrual cycle from my wrist.

Meh, might be nice to keep track of your woman's MS. Kind of a heads up of things to come...
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Emergency SOS via Satellite iPhone YT

Apple's iPhone 14 Emergency SOS via Satellite Feature Saves Stranded Man in Alaska

Thursday December 1, 2022 4:37 pm PST by
With the launch of iOS 16.1, Apple rolled out a Emergency SOS via Satellite, which is designed to allow iPhone 14 owners to contact emergency services using satellite connectivity when no cellular or WiFi connection is available. The feature was put to the test in Alaska today, when a man became stranded in a rural area. In the early hours of the morning on December 1, Alaska State Troopers ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.1.2 With Carrier Improvements and Crash Detection Optimizations

Wednesday November 30, 2022 10:09 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 16.1.2, another minor bug fix update that comes one week after the release of iOS 16.1.1 and three weeks after the launch of iOS 16.1, an update that added support for iCloud Shared Photo Library, Matter, Live Activities, and more. The iOS 16.1.2 update can be downloaded on eligible iPhones over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update. According...
iPad 10 Battery Pull Tabs

iPad 10 Teardown Reveals Why Device Isn't Compatible With Apple Pencil 2

Thursday December 1, 2022 10:48 am PST by
Do-it-yourself repair website iFixit today shared a video teardown of Apple's new 10th-generation iPad, providing a closer look inside the tablet and revealing why the device lacks support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. The teardown reveals the internal layout of the iPad, including its two-cell 7,606 mAh battery, logic board with the A14 Bionic chip, and more. As suspected, the...
iOS 16

When Will iOS 16.2 Be Released?

Friday December 2, 2022 2:13 pm PST by
Apple in late October began testing iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates, providing betas to both developers and public beta testers. As of now, we've had four total betas, with the fourth beta having been released earlier this week. iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 are expected before the end of the year, and we thought we'd try to narrow down the launch timeline. With only four betas released since...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

Major RAM Upgrade Coming to Next-Generation MacBook Pro

Friday December 2, 2022 2:03 am PST by
The next-generation MacBook Pro models could feature faster RAM, according to a recent report from a reliable source. MacRumors Forums member "Amethyst," who accurately revealed details about the Mac Studio and Studio Display before those products were announced, recently provided information about Apple's upcoming 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new machines are expected to feature...
iOS 16

Apple Still Has These 5 Things to Release Heading Into 2023

Thursday December 1, 2022 7:12 am PST by
The calendar has turned to December and that means Apple has only one month left to fulfill its promises of releasing an Apple Music Classical app and expanding its self-service repair program to Europe before the end of 2022. Delays are always possible, of course, so the plans could be pushed back to 2023. In any case, we have put together a list of five things that Apple still has to release...
iOS 16

Apple Seeds Fourth Betas of iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 [Update: Public Beta Available]

Thursday December 1, 2022 10:16 am PST by
Apple today seeded the fourth betas of upcoming iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the betas coming two weeks after Apple seeded the third betas of iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2. Registered developers are able to download the iOS 16‌.2 and iPadOS 16.2 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the beta is available over the air. iOS...
iPhone Measure Height

Newer iPhones Allow You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly — Here's How

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:23 am PST by
iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models feature a LiDAR Scanner next to the rear camera that can be used to measure a person's height instantly in Apple's preinstalled Measure app. To measure a person's height, simply open the Measure app, point your iPhone at the person you want to measure, and make sure they are visible on the screen from...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple Now Calling AR/VR Headset Operating System 'xrOS'

Thursday December 1, 2022 12:57 pm PST by
Apple has decided to call the software that will run on its upcoming AR/VR headset "xrOS," an update from the original "RealityOS or "rOS" naming the company was planning on, according to Bloomberg. Render created by Ian Zelbo based on rumored information The name change comes as Apple begins to prepare for the launch of the headset, which is expected at some point in 2023. The headset will...