watchOS 6 was just unveiled by Apple at WWDC 2019 and it may give us a few hints as to what we can expect from the next Apple smartwatch.
Here we're going to run through some information about the future of the Apple Watch that we can extrapolate from watchOS 6, but a lot of this is just us speculating about the future of the wearable series.
In fact, the Apple Watch 5 may not even land this year, so it may be that we don't even see a watch launched running watchOS 6. That isn't going to stop us speculating though, so just take some of our ideas with a big pinch of salt.
More apps to use
This one is likely to affect your current Apple Watch as well as future devices, but it’s probably going to be one of the biggest highlights of watchOS 6. There are a few different elements that make us think there will be more apps available soon.
First off, you'll get three new Apple-made apps straight out of the box. Those are Calculator, Voice Memos and Apple Books (for audiobook listening). Yeah... Apple really never offered its Calculator app on the Apple Watch until now.
Apple has also put a focus on improving development tools for watchOS 6 to make it easier for developers to scale their apps for different platforms.
The idea here is that the new Swift development tools will make it easier for those developing for either iOS 13 or iPadOS to also offer a service on Apple Watch with less effort than it has taken in the past.
There's no guarantee this will work to encourage more third-party developers to the Apple Watch, but it may breathe some new life into the platform. Plus, the fact the Apple Watch will soon get its own dedicated App Store is going to make it even easier to download titles to your wearable.
Microphones are now a necessity on the Apple Watch for a variety of features such as dictating to your wearable, but the Apple Watch 5 may need to upgrade them.
A new feature within watchOS 6 will listen out for ambient noise to monitor the decibels and warn you if you're nearing the World Health Organization's recommendation of only spending at most four hours a week listening at 90 decibels or above.
To ensure complete accuracy here, Apple may be set to improve the microphones on its next Apple Watch. With Voice Memos making its debut on the Apple Watch, it may be the company wants to improve its microphones for that too.
Again, these features will be available on previous Apple Watches too, but they may still point to some of the hardware upgrades we'll see on the next-gen product.
Extra focus on independence
You've been able to use your Apple Watch separately from your iPhone since the LTE version debuted on the Apple Watch 3, but 2019 may be the time you'll feel truly free.
There are lots of new features that suggest this, including there being an App Store, Apple audiobooks, and Animoji all available directly from your wrist for the first time.
Could Apple be moving to a more solidly capable device even away from your iPhone?
We don't know exactly what this could mean for the Apple Watch 5, but could an LTE variant be the default for the next-gen wearable? It's a possibility.
Your Apple Watch 5 may last longer too
One of the biggest shocks in the watchOS 6 announcement is that the Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch Series 2 will be getting the upgrade to the newest software.
A lot of people had speculated that those two devices wouldn’t be upgraded to the latest software after the original Apple Watch wasn’t upgraded to watchOS 5 last year. Some assumed that meant the next generation after that would be cut off from this year's update.
That may mean Apple is set to give longer lifespans to its upcoming smartwatches too… so could the Apple Watch 5 get an extra year on your wrist?
We don’t know for certain – and we won’t for quite a few years yet – but it may be the case that you’ll be future-proofed for that little bit longer.
Apple has included a new audio streaming API in its development tools that will allow developers to play sound through their apps.
That likely means we'll be seeing more podcasting, radio and music apps debuting on the Apple Watch once watchOS 6 comes out. Could that mean Apple will improve the speakers on the Apple Watch 5?
The speakers on the existing Apple Watch range are okay, but there are some improvements that can be made, as often the sound can be a bit tinny for our liking.
More wellness as well as fitness
Ever since the Apple Watch was introduced, Apple has positioned it as a fitness device. Wellness is now a big focus for the device too, and that's never been clearer than this software update.
New highlights in watchOS 6 include Cycle Tracking (that’s a menstrual cycle feature that allows you to track periods and fertility windows) as well as the previously mentioned decibel feature.
Could Apple be positioning this as an overall health device as well as one for physical fitness? If so then some currently unannounced wellness features might be included too, such as a guided meditation feature or perhaps food tracking.
Now just to wait until Apple brings the Watch 5 out to see if any of these features become a reality...