Apple Watch users can also update to the latest version again this year, unsurprisingly called watchOS 6. We have tested watchOS 6 and in this review of watchOS 6 we share our experiences. In this watchOS 6 review you can read our findings!
In recent years you have noticed that the Apple Watch is becoming increasingly popular. You see them much more in the street than a few years ago and users are also increasingly enthusiastic. Although the Apple Watch is certainly not a need-to-have product yet , the watch has more than proven itself. An important part of the success is watchOS , the operating system of the Apple Watch. Now the sixth part is already available, where a number of functions stand out. We have tested watchOS 6 and share our experiences in this review of watchOS 6.
About this watchOS 6 review:
We installed the betas of watchOS 6 on a test Apple Watch (both a Series 2 and Series 3 and Series 4). We used the latest beta and the Golden Master for that. The final version that will be released on September 19 at 7:00 PM may be different and Apple has made some more improvements. If so, we’ll update this article. Note that watchOS 6 will only be available for Apple Watch Series 3 and newer on September 19 . Older models will follow later.
watchOS 6 : makes the Apple Watch more and more mature
If we look back briefly to the very first versions of watchOS, you will notice how much has improved in those years. Four years ago watchOS was still in its infancy. You could therefore compare the development of watchOS with that of a person. watchOS 1 and 2 equate to a child, with all basic functions and limited capabilities. As watchOS gets older, new features are added. We saw this especially in watchOS 3 , watchOS 4 and watchOS 5 , which can be compared to a teenager and an adolescent. With watchOS 6 , we have finally arrived at the transition to a true adult.
Finally your own App Store
Important in that transition to adulthood is the independence of the Apple Watch. The new App Store on the Apple Watch not only changes the way you download apps, but especially the possibilities of apps. Apps can now be completely independent from the iPhone and thus stand on their own. Unfortunately, we have not seen any concrete examples of that yet, as the real examples will only appear in the coming weeks. What we have already noticed is that browsing the App Store directly on the Apple Watch is an improvement over the current way. You now mainly discover the new Watch app as an extension of an iPhone version, while the new App Store ensures that you actively search for Apple Watch apps.
The App Store works exactly as you expect and is also relatively fast, even on older models. Downloading is very easy, because with a few taps there is a new app on your Apple Watch. What is especially useful is the ability to enter your Apple ID password via your iPhone. So you don’t have to dictate, because you just type it from your iPhone .
Throughout the App Store , the Apple Watch increasingly feels like a standalone product, rather than an extension of your iPhone . Although we have not yet achieved complete independence, we are well on the way. You still need an iPhone for a number of settings and to activate your Apple Watch.
The new apps of watchOS 6
Hand in hand with the App Store are the new default apps in watchOS 6 . We find the Voice Memos very useful, although alternatives like Just Press Record worked fine too. The advantage of Voice Memos is that all your recordings from all your devices are in one app. The app works well and is ideal for short recordings. What we are also a fan of is the new Calculator app. It is sometimes quite practical to calculate something without having to take your iPhone out of your pocket or bag. We especially like the tipping function, which also allows you to split the bill straight away.
Another app we are happy with is the Audiobooks app. After the Music and Podcasts app, this was the missing piece. You can now listen to all types of audio directly through your Apple Watch, even if you don’t have an iPhone with you. The app works in exactly the same way as the two other audio apps, so you know exactly what to expect. We especially like that the app keeps track of where you left off and syncs it with your devices.
One of the latest new apps is the Sound app . With the app you can measure how many decibels of sound there is around you and it also gives warnings if the sound causes (temporary) hearing damage. It is only available on the Apple Watch Series 4 and provides warnings if the ambient noise is too loud. This is especially helpful if you often go to concerts. You then know where it is better to stand or not, although in many cases you cannot do much about it because the sound is very loud. With the complication you view the sound level directly on your watch face. We think it’s a shame to take up so much space for an app that you don’t use that often.
Health: minor improvements, but also important
Every year the new health functions are also central. In watchOS 6 the improvements are a bit smaller, but still worth the effort. In the Activity app we find the new trends . These mainly provide more insight into the long term. It’s nice that you achieved your goals yesterday or today, but what does the bigger picture look like? That image is what the new Trends function gives. This function provides much more insight into your performance and also encourages you to continue an upward trend or to break through a downward trend.
The new Cyclus app provides insight into your menstrual cycle. In a beautiful graphic way you can see when your period is and when your fertile period is. We think the app looks nice, although in the beginning it is a bit of figuring out what the colored icons exactly mean. It is important that all data is securely synchronized via your iPhone and the Health app . We entrust this type of personal information to Apple more than any third party.
It is a shame that sleep tracking is still lacking this year, even on the Apple Watch Series 5 . We very much hope Apple adds this next year, because for now we still have to make do with other Apple Watch apps to measure sleep . While this is still fine, we would have preferred an app from Apple that works more closely with standard features and, for example, the Activity app.
Dials: Brief improvements
In terms of watchOS 6 watch faces , we think the update is a bit disappointing. That’s mainly because most watch faces are only available for the Series 4 and Series 5 . The vast majority of users still have a Series 3 or older, but for those models only the Numerals Duo and Numerals Mono dials are new. We like these, but we don’t use them. This is mainly due to the limited options for complications . For the classic look, we would also have liked to see the California dial on other models, because it looks very nice.
On the one hand, it is understandable that some functions are only reserved for the very latest model, because the hardware is simply better. With the Sound app we find it completely understandable, because the new models have a better microphone and therefore measure the sound level better. But Apple has hardly an excuse for the new watch faces: the California watch face can be added in a round and smaller shape to Series 3 and older.
In addition to these watchOS 6 functions , there are many more improvements that we are happy with. Consider, for example, the improved Siri with built-in Shazam support. The option to update directly without the intervention of the iPhone will hopefully make the installation of updates a lot faster. All the small adjustments mainly show that the step to real independence has now really been taken.
- Own App Store bodes well for the future of Apple Watch apps
- Useful new additions from standard apps
- Beautiful new dials
- Small improvements are very nice
- Limited number of new dials for older models
- Still no sleep tracking
Conclusion watchOS 6
All in all, we are satisfied with the improvements for the Apple Watch. Our experiences are good and we are happy that Apple has taken clear steps with watchOS 6 and that the Apple Watch is increasingly seen as an independent product. The highlights are the new standard apps and the arrival of the App Store, although the latter has yet to show how developers jump in on this. We are confident that this will be all right, especially as many active developers have been asking for more freedom for years.
We do think it is a shame that Apple is letting the users of older models down a little bit with regard to the new dials, because that new offer is very sparse. Also, the health improvements are a bit sparse, with only the activity trends and the new Cyclus app. We would have liked to see the sleep tracking, but we will probably have to wait another year for that.