Apple is taking steps to make the Apple Watch a much more independent platform. The latest watchOS 6 beta hints at another leap in that direction.
Specifically, the very first watchOS 6 beta contained an over-the-air software update mechanism allowing for users to check for and download any watchOS update directly to the wearable itself. In the second beta version of the watchOS 6 platform, that mechanism actually became functional.
In other words, you won’t need an iPhone nearby to install software updates on an Apple Watch going forward.
Just like on iOS, the latest watchOS 6 updates can be accessed by going
- Software Update on your Apple Watch.
Of course, the feature isn’t quite finished yet. As VentureBeat writer Jeremy Horwitz notes, the over-the-air mechanism requires users to review and accept the software terms and conditions. That step must still be completed on a connected iPhone — at least at this point.
As mentioned earlier, this is just one of several new features in watchOS 6 aimed at making the flagship wearable much more autonomous as a platform.
For one, the Apple Watch never really had its own apps — only companion apps that were installed on a connected iPhone.
In watchOS 6, the Apple Watch is getting its own App Store. That means users will be able to download apps directly to their Watches without an iPhone, and it also means that standalone watchOS apps are also on the way.
When it came to software updates, Apple Watch users previously relied on their iPhones for those. The update check and download process took place entirely on an iOS device.
All of this is to say that, with cellular support on recent models, you may not even need an iPhone to use an Apple Watch in the future.
When Can I Get It?
Because the over-the-air mechanism went online in watchOS 6 beta 2, users who have the beta installed should technically be able to download the next beta version directly on their Apple Watches. Presumably, requiring an iPhone to accept the terms and conditions will be done away with some time in the future.
watchOS 6 is slated for a release sometime in the fall. It’s currently in its developer beta testing phase with a public beta coming next month.