VentureBeat's Jeremy Horwitz (via BGR) discovered something interesting on his Apple Watch when he installed watchOS 6 Developer beta 2 on the device. There are indications that with the latest watchOS build, the wearable will be able to directly load OTA updates without having to go through an Apple iPhone. It's another cut in the umbilical cord that connected the Apple Watch to the iPhone when the timepiece was first released in 2015. If you're running the latest Developer beta of watchOS, you can see how the timepiece can run OTA updates through the settings menu by going to Settings > General > Software Update.
The first cut in the cord came with the release of the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular), which allowed users to make and take calls, reply to messages and receive notifications on the device even if they left their iPhone at home. Before the latest beta update, Apple Watch users needed to open the Watch app on their iPhone in order to complete the updating process.
So this seems to be good news for those fighting for the independence of the Apple Watch. We say "seems" because for now, even if you install a software update directly from your smartwatch's settings menu, you have to read and accept the watchOS terms and conditions from your iPhone before starting the update. That seems a little contradictory for a feature that is designed to wean Watch users off their handsets, so we have our fingers crossed that this is something that will be figured out before the final version of watchOS 6 is disseminated.
In watchOS 6, users can update their Apple Watch from the device's settings menu
When updating directly from the Apple Watch, the timepiece needs to be connected to Wi-Fi and resting on its charger. Once the battery is charged up to the 50% level, the update will begin.
With watchOS 6, the Apple Watch can load OTA updates from its Settings menu
The next build of watchOS will feature new watch faces. Many new watch faces, according to Apple. In fact, the company says that there will be "more new faces since the very first Apple Watch." The big news, of course, is that there will be an App Store for the Apple Watch that will host independent apps for the device. And Apple is adding some new apps for the wearable including Audiobooks, Voice Memos, and Calculator. The new Trends feature will allow Apple Watch users to get a longer-term view of their activity stats ranging from a 90-day look to a full year. If the trend shows a healthy increase in activity, that will be good for a user; if the trend shows that the Apple Watch owner is slacking off, the timepiece will pass along some hints on how to get back on track.
The update will also alert someone if they are in danger of damaging their hearing because of some loud surrounding noises. This is done by having the microphone on the Apple Watch turn on every now and then to measure ambient sounds. If the sound registers over 80dB, the Apple Watch will show a warning. The update to watchOS 6 will also include a setting allowing your timepiece to "chime" at the top of each hour while the Taptic engine will produce a vibration at the same time. And lastly, with the latest build of Apple's smartwatch operating system, women will be able to track the time every month when they are most fertile and more likely to get pregnant. This is actually good news for Apple. The more children that are born in homes where Apple products are prevalent, the more future customers the company can count on.
Apple cuts the umbilical cord between the Apple Watch and iPhone even further