Apple Releases watchOS 6; Bringing New and Enhanced Apps, New Health Features, a Dedicated App Store, Siri Improvements, and Much More

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released watchOS 6, bringing new and enhanced apps; new watch faces and complications; new health features; a dedicated App Store; and a more powerful Siri.

Below are some of the highlights.

An App Store on your Wrist

You can now search and download apps directly on your Apple Watch thanks to a new native App Store app.

You can search for apps using Siri, Dictation or Scribble; and then view app descriptions, reviews and screenshots.

Additionally, you can now install apps directly to the Apple Watch, which removes the need for a companion iPhone app to be installed.

Also new in watchOS 6 is the ability to delete stock Apple Watch apps. Sighted users can do this from either the Grid View or List View of installed apps. However, the Grid View is the more accessible option of the two for VoiceOver users - simply flick down on an app icon and double-tap when VoiceOver says “arrange apps”. Move VoiceOver focus to the app that you wish to remove, and then select ‘Activate’ from the VoiceOver rotor's Action menu. So, it's the same steps as you would previously have used to remove 3rd party apps, but which now also works with stock Apple Watch apps.

New Health Apps

In watchOS 6 the Apple Watch gains some new tools for monitoring and protecting your health.

There is a new Noise app that detects loud environments. When you open the app it will report the ambient audio level in decibels and tell you whether longterm exposure to this audio level has the potential to damage your hearing. The app will send you a notification if the noise level is too high. There is also a new Noise watch complication that allows you to monitor noise levels in realtime.

A new Cycle Tracking app allows women to log important information related to their menstrual cycles and see predicted timing for their next period and fertile window. The app's daily log function enables the quick addition of information related to the menstrual cycle, including current period, flow, symptoms, results from ovulation prediction kits and other elements of fertility tracking.

Some Siri Changes

  • You can select the Siri voice to be used directly on your Apple Watch, and this can be also set to be the voice used by VoiceOver. * Note that this appears to be only available on Series 4 and 5 Apple Watch.
  • You can now browse websites on your Apple Watch by asking Siri to go to a web address. For example, say “go to AppleVis.com”.
  • If you ask Siri a question that involves a web search, the results can be viewed as web pages. For example, ask “how do I create an Apple ID?”, and Siri will give you a list of tappable links to some websites.
  • You can now ask Siri what song is playing in the background (previously it would only tell you what song was playing locally on your Apple Watch).
  • Siri integration with the redesigned Find People app now supports location queries.

A New Way to Keep Track of the Time

watchOS 6 introduces Taptic Chimes, which takes advantage of the Apple Watch's Taptic Engine to give you an alert on the hour, every half hour or every 15 minutes either with haptics or a customisable audible chime.

Other Changes

Finally, we have some other changes that don't have their own section, but are no less important or useful.

  • There is a new stock Calculator app with the ability to calculate tips and split the bill.
  • There is a new stock Voice Memos app. You can listen to Voice Memo recordings through the built-in speaker on Apple Watch or through a connected Bluetooth device. Recordings can be renamed with Dictation or Scribble.
  • There is a new stock Audiobooks app that lets you sync audiobooks from Apple Books on your iPhone to Apple Watch. You can sync up to five hours of the book you’re currently reading or stream audiobooks when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile network.
  • There is a new stock Now Playing app which allows you to control playback of your local devices along with AirPlay connected devices like the HomePod and Apple TV.
  • The Find People app has been redesigned and now lets you add friends, set notifications and change settings on Apple Watch.
  • The Walkie-Talkie app has been redesigned.
  • The Music, Podcasts, and Radio apps have redesigned Now Playing interfaces.
  • In the stock Music app, you can now browse the tracks in playlists or albums (previously, selecting a playlist or album would begin playback of its first track). Additionally, personalised music picks are now available in For You.
  • The Maps app has been updated and now supports the Favorites and Collections features added to Maps in iOS 13. It also includes Smart Guidance and spoken navigation.
  • The Reminders app has been updated and now supports the Smart Lists feature added to Reminders in iOS 13, and also allows you to create reminders and view shared lists and subtasks.
  • The Settings app has been reorganized in several places and also gained a number of options which were previously only accessible via the Apple Watch app on iPhone.
  • There are new watch faces: California, Gradient, Modular Compact, Numerals Duo, Numerals Mono, and Solar Dial (the original ‘Solar’ is now ‘Solar Graph’).
  • There are new watch complications for Audiobooks, Calculator, Mobile Data Connectivity, Cycle Tracking, Noise, Wind, Rain and Voice Memos.
  • It is now possible to reorder watch faces directly on your Apple Watch.
  • The ‘Tap to Speak Time’ feature previously only available on the Mickey and Minnie faces is now available across all watch faces. When VoiceOver is not enabled, you activate this by Holding two fingers on the watch face. There is currently no way to trigger this when VoiceOver is enabled. If you believe that it should have VoiceOver support, we would encourage you to email Apple's Accessibility Team and ask that they add it.
  • Support for Sign in with Apple.
  • if you use the List View option for viewing installed apps, this now uses larger text and icons.

For a more complete list of what’s new in watchOS 6, MacRumors offers a good overview.

And What About Accessibility?

We have only been able to carry out some extremely limited testing of watchOS 6 ahead of today’s public release, so have not yet been able to explore in full the new features and changes mentioned above.

Our early impression is that most appear to work well with VoiceOver, and at this time we are only aware of one issue:

  • If you have VoiceOver configured to use the Siri voice, VoiceOver may continue to use the previously use Siri voice if you change Siri to use a different voice. Consequently, you may end up with Siri using one Voice and VoiceOver using a different Siri voice. Additionally, you may find that VoiceOver spontaneously reverts to using its own voice even though it is set to use the Siri voice. We have yet to determine a reliable way of correcting either of these issues when they occur.

One change that's likely to be welcomed by many Apple Watch owners in our community, is that it's now possible to change the speed of TapTic Time vibrations in Settings > Accessibility.

It is very likely that there are further changes in watchOS 6 which will affect blind or low vision users. We will update this post with anything else that we learn. To help with this, please add a comment below to let us know of any changes, improvements or regressions that you find during your own use of watchOS 6.

How to Update to watchOS 6

watchOS 6 requires iPhone 6s or later with iOS 13 or later, and one of the following Apple Watch models:

  • Apple Watch Series 1
  • Apple Watch Series 2
  • Apple Watch Series 3
  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5

Note that watchOS 6 will be available only on the Series 3, 4, and 5 Apple Watches on launch, with the update set to launch on the Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 at a later date.

watchOS 6 is available by going to the Watch app on your iPhone and navigating to General> Software Update. To install the update, your Watch must be connected to its charger and have at least 50% battery power.

More information on how to update the software on your Apple Watch is available on this Apple Support page.

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this update. What do you like? What do you not like? Let us know by adding a comment below.

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48 Comments

#1 Annoying Apple Watch problem.

I cannot, for the life of me. Find out where taptic time is. It used to be in VoiceOver settings but it’s just not there anymore. Could you help?

#2 download

It is taking forever to download the OS 6.

#3 watch OS 6

i updated and it's a pretty stable update.
One thing that i have noticed, i will get a text on my phone before the watch. The alert comes through on both devices.
Sometimes dictation doesn't work while dictating a message.

#4 The time it takes is normal.

This update is one of the longest ones I’ve done for the Apple Watch. Just don’t turn it off or touch it it will eventually finish it.

#5 voices

is it now possiblethen please, to set a different voice for voiceover itself, and we are not just tied to one voice per region? if so, how?

#6 Just to clarify ...

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

As of watchOS 6, you have the option to have VoiceOver use the same Voice that you have selected for Siri on your Apple Watch.

The toggle to enable this is located at Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Siri Voice

You also have the ability to choose the region and gender of the Siri voice. This is located at Settings > Siri > Siri Voice

Note that these settings are located on the Apple Watch itself, and not in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

#7 Can't Seem To Get To Change Voiceover Voice

Hi, I tried following directions from Anonymouse and cannot find a Siri Voice option under Voiceover on my Apple watch Series 3. I have definately upgraded to Watch OS 6. Is there any reason for this? Do you know if this facility is available in regions outside North America, as I am based in the UK?

#8 Siri Voice

Hello,
It looks as if this might be a watch series four and above feature. I also have a series three and I do not see this option after upgrading to watch OS version six.

#9 Siri voice

In order for that to activate you have to wait for a while. Then flip back-and-forth between two of your watch faces. That usually gets up to go.

#10 faces

In my iPhone I still see Mickey Mouse. I thought this was removed from OS 6? Also is taking forever to recharge my watch. Before it was fast. Using apple watch 3. I had not check new siri voice yet. How it works with watch yet I heard new siri voice does not work well with voiceover in iPhone?

#11 deleting apps

I thought you could delete an app? I attempted to delete cycle because I am not a woman. I slide up and nothing happen. Can we delete or not? If so, how. There apps that I do not care for it and would delete them.

#12 Delete apps

Figure it out.
1 on the watch, select the app, tap and hold until you hear sound. select grid and not list. tap on grid.
2 Select the app and tap and slide you will hear move lef, move right. Tap on activate and slide you will hear delete. It is complicated but I did it. Bella the cat did not help me.

#13 Haptic engine

When I pause or continue a workout by pressing the digital crown and the side button at the same time, sometimes I don't get a haptic feedback. Also, sometimes it just doesn't start/pause the workout. I don't know if this is a WatchOS 6 or an Apple Watch 5 issue.

#14 Chimes

I notice that chimes bird sound sometimes works and sometimes does not work.

#15 entering password for apple ID.

Ok, here is a strange one for you al, i have been getting the alert to enter my apple Id password on my apple watch series 4 and it want me to enter it on my Iphone for the watch but when I try and do this there is nothing I can find that will let me do this. please help!

#16 Kind of sucks that the siri

Kind of sucks that the siri voice for voiceoveer is not able to be on my watch as I have a series 3 I found thisout when recording a podcast on what's new here HOpefully the screen caps are clear enough as well.

#17 A few issues in WatchOS 6

After having played fairly extensively with WatchOS 6 for the last few days, I've found a few issues with voiceover that I will also be shipping over to the accessibility team.

1. I couldn't say for sure if it's because I've enabled quarter hourly chimes or what, but voiceover seems to go unresponsive fairly frequently on my series 4. The only real solution I've found is to just wait it out, as tedious as that is. And no, haptic time seems to lock up during that period as well, so it's not an option to just see what time it is.
2. I couldn't say with any degree of certainty, but it seems that with the Siri voice being used (even though it doesn't actually work, good job Apple), the Mickey/Minnie faces don't actually display the time. Ciomplications are read aloud, but not the time itself, either in character voices or in the native voiceover voice.

If anybody has any ideas on how to work around these, I'd be super thrilled to know!

#18 Haptic time

I still cannot find the menu where I can enable this feature. It was there before I updated!

#19 Mouse

Mickey was fire from apple. Because people now are able to get the hour when they tap their watch this was deleted. Also regarding chimes. It works. Before the hour put the watch close to your ear and you will hear it. Is so quiet that you will miss it. Bellathe cat was not impress with the bird chime.

#20 WatchOS6 and ringer alert

Hi. I’m have the series 3 Apple Watch running WatchOS6. When the watch is on mute, the ringer still rings when I receive a phone call. Any ideas? Thanks.

#21 deleting stock apps and ringer bug

Good morning: I updated to watch OS 6 with the soul purpose of removing many of the stock apps to free up space. I'm disappointed to find that the watch will let me delete some stock apps such as noise and cycle, but will not delete other stock apps such as music or news. Also, like the previous poster, the watch is ringing for a phone call even though I have silent mode active.

#22 Notifications

I haven't delved extensively into this update, but the most odd/annoying thing is the Notifications issue someone posted above.

My phone seems to be getting the notifications/alerting on the notifications instead of me just getting a tap on my wrist via my watch.

Pre Watch OS 6: I'd only get a tap on my wrist regarding a notification, the phone would not buzz or make noise of the notification but would be there if I grabbed the phone to read the full notification or handle it.
After Watch OS 6: The phone gets the full notification, including the sounds (like the dice rolling sound for DiceWorld) and VO reads the notification ... I don't think I remember noticing if the watch actually tapped me about it, either, as I got so distracted by the phone actually making noise.

I'm assuming this is a bug, as the whole thing with the watch is that it's supposed to let you ignore your phone and be less obtrusive wiht the notifications.

Unless there is a new setting that was introduced that I don't know about?

#23 Watch now won't read monogram or temperature

My wife noticed that the watch will now no longer read her monogram or the temperature in the weather complecation.

#24 I've also noticed these bugs

I've experienced the ringing with a phone call despite being in silent mode, my phone sounding and VO reading messages even though the watch vibrates with the notification, and the weather conditions complication speaking the conditions but not the temperature It will say sunny. I've found that if I enable the weather complication that that one will speak the temperature. Also, I enabled the siri voice setting for voiceover but that hasn't taken effect; it still says waiting to download despite that I charged my watcy for like an hour after I updated it.

#25 Yeah - I just got several

Yeah - I just got several Notifications now where my watch did not even buzz with the notification, but the phone is just merrily reading out all the notifications fine.

Checking my watch, it's not showing any unread notifications, either.

I'm going to poke around my settings. It's super weird.

#26 I am having the notification problems as well.

I am having some issues with notifications as well. Sometimes, old notifications long since dealt with on my phone stay around on the watch. Sometimes the watch notifications don't sync the ones on the phone either.
Sadly I have contacted accessibility@apple.com to let them know and they claim they can't reproduce the bug. Very problematic as the watch was almost perfect in 5.3 and IOS 12.3.4.

#27 another bug I found.

I forgot to mention another bug I found.
I use my watch to track workouts and when you go in to set a goal in the workouts app, you can't adjust the goal with voiceover enabled.Go to workouts, flic up or down on a workout type like outdoor walk or elliptical. Click on change goal then time. This presents a slider but you can't change the value with voiceover on. A workaround I found is to turn v/o off with triple click and turn the crown to adjust the setting.I would encourage anyone reading this to please contact accessibility@apple.com about any issues you may be having.This update has been a real kick in the teeth, at least for me, and it has made my brand new watch very problematic to use. IOS 13 has been almost as bad but that's a story for another thread.
it is very important that we politely and respectfully give Apple the feedback they need to fix these issues and help us get the most out of all our various Apple products.

#28 OS 6.1 beta

I think the beta is out for OS 6.1

#29 Ringer and taptic time

Hi, the ringer is not a bug, it’s a change. Just go to the phone settings, and turn it off. I also found a new Feature, but it could be, that I didn’t read everything careful enough. It’s about taptic time. You can now change its speed.

#30 thank you for the info about the ringer; solved 2 of my issues

Thank you for the heads-up about this. I found the ringer option in the phone settings within the watch app of my iPhone. I got a nice surprise in that when I turned the sound off under the ringer heading, messages and alerts no longer sound and read out on my phone, but buzz on my wrist as I am accustomed to.

#31 I wasn't able to find any

I wasn't able to find any fault with my settings for the notifications on my watch.

I still am only getting Watch-specific notifications on my watch (IE, the Activity notifications every morning), and the notifications on my phone are not being synced to my watch at all. It is like the watch isn't even there ... the phone just reads the notification as normal.

#32 Getting My Apple Watch Series 5 Today

Getting my series 5 watch today sounds like a very nasty bumpy buggy ride for Watch OS 6. Hope they fix it soon. I'm going to be very new to the watch so am just perusing the getting started manual by Apple. Man, the manual is overwhelmingly huge! Wondering if there is just one for voiceover for the watch, it would not be too huge.

#33 Mirror

In notification for watch in the iPhone is mirror where same notification that you get in your phone occurs in your watch.

#34 Apple watch 101

There are many podcast that focus on the watch. I am also getting my today from amazon. Nice price $350.00 for the 5. The podcast are by David and still relevant to today.

#35 iPhone 6 Plus and watchOS 6?

Hello everyone,
I am trying to update my Apple Watch 4 to watch os 6, I have an iPhone 6 Plus, not the S. I have not received the alert for the update. My iPhone is updated to 12.4.1. Is there anyway for me to get watchOS 6 onto my Apple Watch with an older iPhone?

Thank you for any help

#36 You need IOS 13.1 on your phone in order to get WatchOS 6

I tried to update my watch first, and got a message that I needed to update my phone before I could update my watch. So I updated from 12 point something to 13.1. As soon as the phone finished the update, the phone immediately alerted me that my watch was out of date. It actually took 2 attempts to update to watch OS 6; not sure what triggered the error. The aspects I was looking forward to in Watch OS 6 I have not been successful with yet. I think I might reach out to Apple Accessibility.

#37 Is there a way to update Apple Watch with an older iPhone?

So my understanding is that if I have an iPhone 6, not the 6S that I will not be able to update my Apple Watch to the latest watchOS.
Well, that sucks!
I don’t want to have to go and buy a new phone just update the software on my watch! This is where Apple missed the mark on this one I feel!

#38 Notifications

Everyone who has problems with notifications on the Apple Watch, please try to restart both devices, iPhone and the Watch. It worked for me!

#39 Workaround to adjust VoiceOver volume on the watch

Every time I wanted to change the voiceover volume on my Apple Watch, I had to go to the watch app on my iPhone. Now you have to use the voice memo app on the Apple Watch. Open it, then make a recording, then try to play it. here you can adjust the volume. It’s a cool workaround!

#40 issue with siri voice

I've also upgraded to watch OS 6, but my watch says waiting to download the siri voice even though it's on. this hs been the case for a couple days now. suggestions? I've already tried toggling VO and the siri voice toggle. using a series 4 watch.

#41 Restart

Did you turn off watch and restart?

#42 Restart

First I turn off my iPhone, then I turned off my Apple Watch, then I turned on iPhone and the watch.

#43 Having same siri issue

I have the same issue as in prior comments regarding Siri I just got my watch on Thursday evening set it up and still see waiting for Siri voice to download in order for it to be used with VO. I have had it on the charger and is fully charged and still hear Samantha compact voice. Do any of you guys have any thoughts regarding this is this a bug?

#44 same issue with Siri voices and other minor issues

Hello everyone, I have been following the comments posted here since last couple of days. I have similar issues with Siri voices.
Am using watch S4, iPhone 7 with the latest software for both watch and phone. I have tried almost everything, force restart of both my watch and phone, selecting different Siri voices and dialects just in case.
I have apparently downloaded all Siri voices on my watch, so the 'waiting for download' message is gone, but still am unable to use any of my blasted Siri voices for VO.
Another interesting issue I have is with opening webpages on my watch. When one dictates a command to Siri to open a particular webpage VO stops responding. Restarting VO leads to loss of Siri window, so not useful in this situation.
At times, using bluetooth headphones with watch and after dictating something to Siri the watch microphone remains on even if the dictation is complete.
Bloody frustrated with the update. Any suggestions other than downgrading to Watch OS5, which will be the last thing I would like to do?

#45 Aptic Morse report.

Hi. The morse code as an aptic time report is totally broken. I'm running WatchOS 6.0.1 on AppleWatch 5.
The balance in between dashes and dots is wrong, no meaning which speed do you choose. The Morse feedback is almost unreadable.

#46 8 complications face.

WatchOS6.0.1, AppleWatch5.
VoiceOver doesn't read all the complications on a 8 Compl.Faces.
Anyone else with this issue?

#47 Recent iOS update?

Club AppleVis Member

Did the most recent iOS 13.0.3 update fix the issue with the Siri voices not downloading to the watch? Somehow, I very very very seriously doubt it did, no further comments, but just figured I'd ask, in case I need to stand corrected out of the very rare chance.

#48 ECG

FYI. I fix my issue with not seeing my ECG app in my Series 5. Apple person at the store unpear my watch and pear it again. The ECG show up in the watch. Strange but I am glad it was fix.