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Apple Watch update: 6 new features we love about WatchOS 6

Your Apple Watch just got a whole lot better. Update your smartwatch and start using these features ASAP.

WatchOS 6 adds many new features. 
Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple released updates for not just the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV over the past month, it also refreshed the Apple Watch. The wearable now runs on WatchOS 6, which includes several new apps including Voice Memos, new weather complications and new features such as touching the screen with two fingers to have your watch speak the time. WatchOS 6 comes preinstalled on the Apple Watch Series 5, the newest watch in Apple's lineup, which boasts an always-on display and a built-in compass. 

Before you can start using the new features in WatchOS 6, you'll need to first install iOS 13 on the iPhone ($500 at Best Buy) that connects to your watch. 

First, update to WatchOS 6

Once your phone is updated, open the Watch app on your iPhone and go to General > Software Update. You'll need to have your Apple Watch charged and a strong Wi-Fi connection. Follow the prompts to install the update, which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour depending on your connection. 

WatchOS 6 is currently available for Apple Watch Series 3 ($199 at Best Buy), Series 4 and Series 5. The update will be available for Series 1 and Series 2 users later this year. 

Going forward, you can download and install updates directly on your watch by opening the Settings app and going to General > Software update


You can now delete Apple apps from the Apple Watch. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Now you can declutter your Watch's app screen by deleting Apple apps you just don't use. Remove one of Apple's own apps by long-pressing on any app icon until they start to jiggle and a small "X" appears. Find an app you want to delete, tap on the X and then confirm your decision. 

If you need to reinstall an Apple app, use the App Store app on your Apple Watch (more on this in a minute). 


Cycle Tracking is built into your watch, now. 


These are the 6 new Apple Watch features we loved.

1. Cycle tracking

Female health tracking in the Health app and on the Apple Watch is long overdue, but it's finally here. There's a dedicated Cycle Tracking app on your watch (you can delete if you don't need it) that will send you alerts and reminders to log your symptoms. 


The Noise app will alert you if you're in a loud environment for too long. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

2. Prevent hearing loss

After updating to WatchOS 6, you'll find the new Noise app. The Noise app monitors the decibel level of your surroundings and will alert you if you're in an environment with a noise level of over 80 decibels (the threshold at which hearing damage can start). The app also includes the amount of time you can be exposed to a specific decibel level in a given day before damage will occur. We have a fantastic walkthrough of the Noise app, detailing how to set custom alerts or disable it if you'd rather not use it. 


A standalone App Store on your wrist? It's true. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

3. The App Store comes to your wrist

Apple added a dedicated App Store app in WatchOS 6, which you can use to download apps directly to the watch -- bypassing your iPhone altogether. Currently, you have to install an app on your iPhone before you can install it on your watch. 

Open the App Store app on your watch to view Apple's app suggestions, search for a specific app or update any stand-alone apps. 


Just raise your wrist and ask Siri to name that tune. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

4. Siri, what song is this?

Shazam is now built into your Apple Watch. You just need to ask Siri to identify a song, and a few seconds later you'll see the artist and song name. You can access Siri by either pressing the Digital Crown, raising your wrist and speaking to Siri, or using the wake phrase of "Hey, Siri" and asking "What song is this?" After Siri identifies the song, you can add it to your Apple Music library. 


Record voice memos on your wrist? It's possible. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

5. Record a voice memo

There's now a Voice Memos app built into WatchOS. Find the app's icon on your home screen, or tell Siri on your watch to "record a voice memo." Tap the record button and your watch will record your meeting, class or whatever you want. When you're done, tap the stop button and the recording will save automatically. You can listen to the memo directly on the watch, no headphones required, or wait a few minutes until it syncs to the Voice Memos app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. 


The calculator app on WatchOS 6 looks retro. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

6. There's now a calculator

How did the Apple Watch go this long without a native calculator app? Not sure, but at least there's one now. You can perform all of the standard calculations you'd expect from a calculator, and there's even a Tip button to help you figure out how much to leave a waiter or waitress.

Not only does WatchOS 6 bring a lot of new features to your watch, iOS 13 and iPadOS add even more to the iPhone and iPad ($179 at Amazon). We've found plenty of hidden features, that go along with a redesigned Reminders app and a dedicated dark mode

Originally published earlier this month. Added Voice Memos section.