The Apple Watch is probably the only smartwatch that matters now. Like the iPad making a strong case for tablets, the Apple Watch has been holding the fort for smartwatches for a while now. The Apple Watch Series 4 is without a doubt, the best smartwatch that money can buy today. That’s not to say that it is perfect though. But it’s getting close.
On Monday, Apple announced watchOS 6 at its annual WWDC keynote event in San Jose, California - watchOS is the software that drives the Apple Watch. As is customary, watchOS 6 which is the next major update to watchOS, brings a host of new capabilities to the Apple Watch - it’s out in developer preview now and will be available for all this fall, which is in September. Some of these include a menstrual cycle tracking app, a noise app for detecting sound levels that could negatively impact hearing, a new trends tab in the activity app for tracking long-term progress, and not to mention, tons of new Watch faces for customisation.
But the real stand-out feature coming to the Apple Watch with the watchOS 6 update is its own App Store. This means, come September, users will be able to view, download and install third-party apps on their Apple Watch right from their wrist. Without an iPhone. With watchOS 6, Apple is inching closer to making the Apple Watch a stand-alone device independent of the iPhone - which, frankly speaking, has been something Apple Watch users have always wanted. Apple has already cut the Apple Watch loose to some extent by adding cellular, but a dedicated App Store is an even bigger deal.
But even Apple would know, bundling an App Store won’t be enough - ask Samsung. The Apple Watch is already a closed-door product, like any other Apple product, and without compelling apps, it simply can’t fly. Although Apple isn’t giving out names, it is clear about one thing - it really wants developers to “build Apple Watch-only apps, created to work independently on Apple Watch without an iOS app.” While the catch-phrase “Apple Watch-only” is hallmark Apple, it is the second half that’s new and intriguing here - Apple really wants near complete, or something very close to it, autonomy for the Apple Watch. Which is mutually beneficial for both users and Apple. But more for Apple.
Apple desperately needs a poster child in hardware - and with iPhone sales dipping by the day, now more than ever. Both sales and critical response have shown the Apple Watch could be that poster child. As such, unchaining it from the shackles of the iPhone becomes a necessary evil that Apple must practice to stay ahead in the game.