Meet WatchOS 6: Six ways Apple is turning its watch into a mini iPhone

The Apple Watch is getting real independence.

Credit: Apple

When the Apple Watch arrived back in 2015, it was very much an iPhone accessory. That’s steadily been changing with native apps and the addition of cellular support, but with watchOS 6, the Apple Watch barely needs an iPhone at all. Here are six ways Apple has made Apple Watch independent in watch OS 6.

You can install apps on your wrist

One of the biggest Apple Watch annoyances has always been its reliance on the iPhone to download and install apps. Not only did we need to use the iPhone app to find new apps, we also needed to have a companion app installed on our phone in order to use it on our wrist. But that’s changing in watchOS 6.

With the introduction of a standalone App Store, Apple is finally giving us full app independence on the Apple Watch, with not just native app support but a whole new native UI framework that will let developers focus on watchOS development without needing to provide a separate app on the iPhone as well. This should lead to a surge in Apple Watch apps and much greater capability and functionality.

watch os 6 ind apps Apple

Apple running on watchOS 6 won’t need an iPhone to install.

You’ll get a full picture of your health

Health and fitness tracking has been one of the main benefits of the Apple Watch since day one, but we haven’t been able to do all that much on our wrist. But WatchOS 6 brings several new health apps and features to monitor things like hearing, cardio fitness, and mensturation—and you won’t need to take out your iPhone and launch the Health app. 

With watchOS 6 you’ll be able to see a live reading of the decibels in the room you’re in, as well as check out your monthly and annual activity trends. And female users will be able to log and view key aspects of their cycle, including fertility windows and symptoms they’re experiencing. And you won’t need to reach for your iPhone to do any of it.

It has a calculator

While there are plenty of third-party calculators available for the Apple Watch, Apple is finally bringing a stock Calculator app to watchOS. It might not seem like much, but it’s a clear sign that Apple wants you to reach for your watch first when you need to do simple tasks. Based on Apple’s decscription, there nothing groundbreaking here—Calculator will let you do things like calculate tips and split bills when you’re at a restaurant—but the fact that it took until watchOS 6 to get it signals a shift in Apple’s thinking.

watchos 6 faces Apple

WatchOS 6 is delivering lots of new Watch Faces and complications.

There are tons of new complications

Along with new Watch Faces like gradient, California, Solar Face, and Modular Compact, Apple has added a bunch of new complications that let you get information at a glance without opening an app or turning to your phone. For example, the new Noise app has a complication that shows a live reading of the ambient decibel level and you’ll also be able to track wind, rain, lots of other things. And in watchOS 6, you can finally reorder your Watch Faces as well—all without opening the Watch app on your iPhone.

You’ll be able to log into your accounts

It’s happened to us all. We open an app on our Apple Watch only to get a message: Please log into your acount on your iPhone. With watchOS 6 that message will be a thing of the past, with the new ability to log into your accounts right on your wrist. We’re not sure how far Apple is extending it, but with an app store and native apps, we shouldn’t need to log into anything on our phone anymore.

watchos 6 female health Apple

WatchOS 6 will bring female health tracking through the Cycles app.

The software will update automatically

If you’re ever updated an Apple Watch, you know how tedious it can be. In watchOS 6, your Apple Watch will update automatically without needing to download an update on our iPhone first. That’ll save time and annoyances—and give us one less reason to pick up our iPhone.

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon
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