Although it’s been a weird release cycle for iOS (and iPadOS) this year, with most beta testers already running iOS 13.1 ahead of next week’s iOS 13.0 release, Apple’s other mobile operating systems — watchOS and tvOS — appear to be more on track for a traditional rollout.
Although watchOS 6 was conspicuously missing from Apple’s public beta program, registered developers have had access to the beta versions since June, and in keeping with Apple’s typical post-event release schedule, the company pushed out the GM seed for watchOS 6 to developers earlier this week.
Traditionally, the GM, which is short for “Golden Master” is the final release version of the operating system that will be pushed out the public unless serious problems are discovered between now and next week. In the case of almost every Apple operating system release in the past several years, the developer GM is identical to the final release, meaning that registered developers are just getting the same thing now that we’ll all be seeing on September 19th.
Meridian Watch Face
While most of the new features in watchOS 6 are already well known, and have been locked in for a while, 9to5Mac found that the GM did offer one new surprise in the form of the Meridian watch face that Apple revealed during its keynote earlier this week.
While Apple showed the new watch face off as part of the Apple Watch Series 5 reveal, it turns out that won’t be exclusive to the new model, but will actually be available for the Apple Watch Series 4 as well; in fact it will be the default option when setting up a new Apple Watch Series 4 or Series 5 for the first time.
Meridian uses a classic numberless analog watch display and features four round complications near the center that can be customized as usual. Users can also choose between a white or black face and different colors for the complications.
The watchOS 6 GM also adds in the new Nike watch faces shown on the Nike+ edition of the Apple Watch Series 5, which will also be coming to the Series 4 Nike+.
Older Watches Won’t Get the Update Right Away
That said, it’s not all sunshine and roses for Apple Watch users either, with Apple quietly noting on the watchOS 6 preview page that the update will only be arriving next week for users of the Series 3 and Series 4 models; although users of the older Series 1 and Series 2 versions will still get the update — which is good news — it’s not coming until “later this fall,” a phrase that seems to be Apple’s new mantra.
Developers, Start Your Engines
This week, Apple also told developers that they can start submitting their watchOS 6 apps to the App Store, taking advantage of new features like the integrated App Store that allows for apps to be built solely for the Apple Watch, without the need for it to be bundled inside a companion iOS app.
Apple is also setting a deadline of next April for all watchOS developers to adopt the new SDK, which will require them to provide full support for the Apple Watch Series 4 and later models as well. Legacy apps won’t be kicked off the App Store at that point, but all new apps and updates to older apps will be rejected unless they’re designed for watchOS 6.