The Apple Watch Series 6 is the upcoming new version of the most popular smartwatch in the world. It was expected to be unveiled along with the new iPhones in the middle of September of 2020, and while the time frame was correct, it was actually announced alongside a new 2020 iPad Air 4 instead.
In this article, we are rounding up all the major new features that Apple Series Series 6 brings, as well as info about its pricing and release date.
See our Apple Watch Series 6 review here.
Jump to section:
Apple Watch Series 6 release date
Friday, September 18
The Apple Watch Series 6 was made available in the US on Friday, September 18.
Apple Watch Series 6 price
No surprises on this front
The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399 for the GPS model, while the GPS + Cellular model starts at $499. Prices will vary with the more premium band options.
You may also find interesting:
Apple Watch Series 6: Force Touch is gone
watchOS 7 has removed support for the feature
After doing away with 3D Touch on iPhones, it seems that Apple will also kill Force Touch on the Apple Watch, and the Series 6 won't even have the required hardware support for the feature.
Force Touch has been an interesting addition: it's a genuinely useful extra layer of the whole system, but it suffered from one big problem which is that it was hard to predict when you could use it and what for. With watchOS 7, support for the feature seems to be gone. In its Human Interface Guidelines, Apple is telling developers to relocate items previously accessed by Force Touch: "In versions of watchOS before watchOS 7, people could press firmly on the display to do things like change the watch face or reveal a hidden menu called a Force Touch menu. In watchOS 7 and later, system apps make previously hidden menu items accessible in a related screen or a settings screen. If you formerly supported a long-press gesture to open a hidden menu, consider relocating the menu items elsewhere."
Apple Watch Series 6 specifications and new features
WatchOS 7 has revealed some of the features that will be supported on the upcoming Apple Watch Series 6: sleep tracking, new watch faces, a redesigned Activity app that now goes by the name Fitness, and support for dance as a workout. Here are the new, notable features which we now know officially:
Apple Watch Series 6 specifications
Below are the specs thanks to which the Apple Watch Series 6 improves upon it's predecessor:
- A13 bionic dual-core processor
- Up to 20% faster performance than on Apple Watch Series 5
- Improved always-on display, 2.5 times brighter outdoors
- Always-on altimeter for real-time elevation tracking
The Apple Watch Series 6 will be available in several new colors, most notably Product Red, which is a first on an Apple Watch. Along with it, other colors include:
- Classic Gold
- Product Red
Blood oxygen measuring
Using red and infrared light, the new health sensor on the Apple Watch Series 6 will be able to measure the user's blood oxygen levels in just 15 seconds. This new sensor will also capture periodic background readings and store them in the Sleep app. The blood oxygen measuring feature will be especially useful for detecting respiratory and cardiac health issues.
In relation, Apple is starting 3 new studies to help manage and identify conditions via the new sensor, so its functionality may improve in the future.
New Watch Faces
The Apple Watch Series 6 will include new Watch Faces, such as a GMT one, which will show multiple time zones at once, and the Count Up one, which will let the user start tracking laps immediately. A simplistic and beautiful Typograph Watch Face will show numerals in different styles, while a Memoji Watch Face can show the user's favorite Memoji on the lock screen. A Stripes Watch Face will allow users show pride in who they are or show support for their favorite teams.
In addition, Apple says that it has given more freedom to developers in creating Watch Faces for the Apple Watch, which should lead to more specialized Watch Faces to choose from by third parties. Included examples showed a photography-oriented Watch Face with a shutter button, while another was entirely about showing medical stats.
New watch bands and band colors
The Apple Watch Series 6 will come with a new band style, made out of custom, stretchable silicone for easy taking off and putting on. The band will be one continuous piece, durable and swim-proof. This new band will come in 7 different colors. A braided version of the Apple Watch Series 6 band will also be available, itself made out of recycled yarn and in 5 colors.
Additionally, a new leather band and updated Nike Apple Watch sport bands will also be available.
Apple Watch Family Setup
A new feature called Apple Watch Family Setup is also coming, and will allow users to just use a single iPhone to pair their children or grandparents' Apple Watches. Thus, paired Apple Watches will not need separate iPhones for each family member. Yet they'll still get their own phone numbers, making family members, such as kids and grandparents just a call away.
Parents will also be able to specify which contacts their kids will be allowed to communicate with, or set up automatic location notifications for when their kids arrive at certain locations. A School Time mode will enable Do Not Disturb and will restrict interactions with the Apple Watch when the child is at school. In turn, kids will be able to create Memojis directly from their watch and share them in messages.
Sleep tracking is here
The biggest new feature with the Series 6 might be Apple Watch sleep tracking. Such a feature was already present on other smartwatches, like those by Fitbit and Withings, and it's also been available on the Apple Watch via third-party apps, but never natively. Sleep tracking functionality was confirmed to be coming to the Apple Watch with the release of watchOS 7 in Fall of 2020, and thus was made available on the Apple Watch Series 6 at launch.
A Bloomberg report from early 2019 claimed that Apple had been testing sleep tracking for the Apple Watch since late 2018. The company had allegedly run a secret program with testers at specialized facilities near its headquarters in Cueprtino, California. It's worth knowing that Apple's Health app on iPhones has had a separate sleep tracking category for years, but right now it uses data from the alarm clock on an iPhone, which of course provides little actual information about the quality of sleep. Apple acquired Finnish company Beddit in 2017, a company that makes a sleep-tracking sensor that is currently available on the Apple Store for $150. As soon as in October 2019, we saw the mention of a "Sleep app" on the Apple Watch. The discovery came from Twitter user Daniel Marcinkowski and all those combined provide interesting background to how we ended up finally getting sleep tracking on the watch.
That Sleep app has now been made available with watchOS 7, and as mentioned earlier, is available on Apple Watch Series 6.
Also new on Apple Watch Series 6: Much better Gym Stats
While smartwatches and the Apple Watch in particular have been great companion devices for runners, cyclists, swimmers and a few other sports, gym goers lifting weights have had less use for the watch.
Apple has been working actively to change this and it has introduced a new "Apple Watch Connected" initiative for popular gyms in the United States. The new program will have the gyms bring Apple Watch-connected equipment as well as reward programs based on workout data collected by the watch.
Participating gyms are required to offer an app for either the iPhone or the Watch so that members can track their fitness progress, plus they have to support Apple Pay and offer a rewards program. Gyms will also need to have equipment compatible with Apple's GymKit API for tracking workouts. The program will require users to opt in, meaning that Apple will not automatically gather data about you.
The list of participating gyms includes Orange Theory, Crunch Fitness, YMCA, and Basecamp Fitness, and more can join in later on.
We are not sure whether this will result in particular features related to the Apple Watch Series 6 or all Apple Watches, but we would not be surprised to see a focus on better gym exercise tracking become one of the major features in the Series 6 release.
Apple Watch S6 New Health Features
Blood pressure and blood sugar measurements, handwashing detection
In early 2019, reports emerged that Apple had hired clinicians and engineers to explore adding features like blood pressure and blood glucose measurements to the watch. A report by The Fast Company mentioned that these stats will be useful for people who need to manage their diabetes, as well as will come in handy for more precise sleep tracking. These features never materialized on the Apple Watch S5, so it is possible that they might make their debut on the Series 6.
With watchOS 7, we also saw the introduction of automatic handwashing detection. With its sensors, machine learning and microphone, the Apple Watch will be able to detect whether the user is washing their hands, and if they're doing it for as long as it is recommended for fighting off diseases like COVID-19. The watch will also be able to remind users to wash their hands when they get home.
A pulse oximeter, which will evaluate the user's oxygen saturation levels has also been essentially confirmed as of late July.
Will the Apple Watch Series 6 come with a new design?
The rectangular shape will stay
Unlike its band, the Apple Watch Series 6 itself has not been changed in terms of design. It retains the same rectangular shape with rounded corners as its predecessors.