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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Article Link: Hands-On With watchOS 6: Dedicated App Store, New Watch Faces, Noise Monitoring, Calculator App and More
 
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Mikey44

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2012
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It’s about time they released a face like “California”... the round faces on the rectangular watch leave a lot to be desired.
But it's a Series 4 exclusive only.

I'm hoping that the next beta fixes the Noise App, I'm not seeing it, and it's only available in my notifications. I also hope that it too isn't just a series 4 exclusive.
 
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iMelhado

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Jan 15, 2018
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But it's a Series 4 exclusive only.

I'm hoping that the next beta fixes the Noise App, I'm not seeing it, and it's only available in my notifications. I also hope that it too isn't just a series 4 exclusive.

It is S4 exclusive.

"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."
 
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Mikey44

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Mar 6, 2012
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It is S4 exclusive.

"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."
I'm not sure where MacRumors is getting that information, I'm not seeing it anywhere listed as an exclusive on Apple's site, if that's the case, that's pretty disappointing.
 
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abhibeckert

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Jun 2, 2007
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I'm not sure where MacRumors is getting that information, I'm not seeing it anywhere listed as an exclusive on Apple's site, if that's the case, that's pretty discouraging.
Im pretty sure at some point Apple said this feature had to implemented in hardware. It would drain the battery with software.
[doublepost=1560460185][/doublepost]Is there a digital watch face with seconds?
 

HessiDe

macrumors newbie
Jun 13, 2019
2
1
Can anybody please check if notifications on the watch are now saved (like in iOS) while the watch is set to DND.

Waiting for this specific feature for a while now.
 
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jona2125

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Jul 12, 2010
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I'm not sure where MacRumors is getting that information, I'm not seeing it anywhere listed as an exclusive on Apple's site, if that's the case, that's pretty discouraging.
Apple really doesn't call out anything specific, they just provide a generic statement: "Not all features are available on all devices."
[doublepost=1560460997][/doublepost]
It may take a few years but I hope Apple eventually releases a custom watch face store/builder.
This is something I have been desperately hoping for and the main reason why I dropped Apple Watches in favor of Samsung.
 

Mansu944

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Mar 11, 2012
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I'm not sure where MacRumors is getting that information, I'm not seeing it anywhere listed as an exclusive on Apple's site, if that's the case, that's pretty discouraging.
Why is it discouraging for some older models to not have all of the new features? Should they never improve the watch?
 

Mikey44

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2012
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Im pretty sure at some point Apple said this feature had to implemented in hardware. It would drain the battery with software.
[doublepost=1560460185][/doublepost]Is there a digital watch face with seconds?
It's a software feature already. It's not relying on additional hardware built into the watch.

The only thing that I can see possibly justifying the exclusion of this on the Series 3 is the fact that it doesn't have the processing power to do all the other things it is doing as well as check decibel levels.

The mic is already on when the screen turns on with the series 3 and 4. Having the mic on the rest of that time wouldn't be a terrible hit to battery life.
 
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MisterSavage

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Nov 10, 2018
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It may take a few years but I hope Apple eventually releases a custom watch face store/builder.
Me too. I want infograph modular with the time large in the center and complications above/below that. So simple yet so far away....
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
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With the app store available from the watch, can you at least still browse and install watch apps from your phone?

I'd really rather browse and install apps from my phone than from the watch's tiny screen.
 

Mikey44

macrumors regular
Mar 6, 2012
134
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Why is it discouraging for some older models to not have all of the new features? Should they never improve the watch?
It's not about older devices not getting all of the new features. For a 200-800 dollar watch that is health focused, it seems like they may want to push more users to use the health features they are trying to include.

There are a ton of new features that are included in WatchOS 6, even for the older devices, but the older watches get... 2 new watch faces, despite showing off 5 watch faces. There is no reason the Gradient or California watch faces wouldn't work well on the series 3, 2, or possibly 1.

Perhaps, discouraging was the incorrect word to use, but it is disheartening to see Apple hold back some of these features that could work just as well on the series 3.

I'm just reacting to news that is disappointing for someone who likes the Stainless Steel or Ceramic like myself.
 
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jclo

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Dec 7, 2012
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MR Staff: It would be great to show what these new faces and things look like on Watch 1/2/3 since the screens are so different. Some faces, for example may not even be available.
These are indeed limited on older Apple Watch models, as mentioned up above, which is why we can't show them. The only new watch faces available on my Series 3 are the Numerals Mono and Numerals Duo watch faces, which look pretty much the same as they do on Series 4.
[doublepost=1560462277][/doublepost]
I'm not sure where MacRumors is getting that information, I'm not seeing it anywhere listed as an exclusive on Apple's site, if that's the case, that's pretty disappointing.
It's not listed on the site, but the info has been confirmed directly by Apple. Noise is Series 4 only.
 
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frumpywumpy

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Jun 18, 2010
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MR Staff, or anyone else who has access to the beta, does the Cycle Tracking app allow others to be informed/alerted? The current "Clue" app does allow family/friends to sign up and be notified at various optional points of the menstrual cycle.