APPLE HAS LAUNCHED watchOS 6, a hefty update that makes the Apple Watch a lot more independent.
While the wrist-worn gadget has long-relied on a tethered iPhone, Apple's new watchOS update allows developers to create standalone apps for the Watch, without the need for a companion app on the iPhone. This will be accompanied by a dedicated App Store for the Apple Watch, enabling users to browse, purchase and install apps directly onto their wrists.
Apps will also be more capable thanks to new Runtime and Streaming Audio APIs, the latter of which will allow the Watch to stream audio without relying on a nearby iPhone.
While many third-party devs have been quietly binning their watchOS apps, Apple is bringing some more of its own to the Apple Watch, including Audiobooks, Voice Memos and Calculator.
To no one's surprise, Apple has also added new health tracking features to the Watch's software. A new machine learning-powered 'Trends' feature will show your progress in areas like cardio fitness, flights climbed and walking pace, a Noise app will measure the decibel level of the environmental noise around you, and Cycle will let woman track menstrual cycles; this feature will also be available on the iPhone, without the need for an Apple Watch.
As with Apple's iOS 13, iPadOS and macOS Catalina updates, there's also a nod to privacy. The company boasts no audio collected by the Noise app will be stored, while data collected by its health features will be encrypted on-device; if iCloud back up is selected by the user, data is encrypted in iCloud.
And of course, it wouldn't be a watchOS update without new watchfaces; in watchOS 6, users can look forward to new Modular Compact, Solar Dial, California, Gradient and Numerals faces.
watchOS 6 is in the hands of developers now before it rolls out to all Apple Watch models later this year. µ
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