Apple Watch apps are breaking out from their earlier constraints. This morning at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, the company announced that the Apple Watch will now get its own on-device App Store. That means you won’t have to hunt for Watch apps using your iPhone or toggle them on or off in the Watch app for iOS — you can browse and search for new Watch apps right from your wrist.
The new App Store on the Watch will include the description, screenshots and ratings — just like you’d see on the iOS App Store. You can then tap to install the app on your Watch right from the screen.
Related to the addition of the new App Store for Apple Watch, Apple says that watchOS apps can now run independently from their iOS counterparts. This will allow developers to build out dedicated Watch apps — even if there’s no need for an iOS version. The hope, perhaps, with these changes is to kickstart the Apple Watch ecosystem, which hadn’t taken off the way the iOS App Store did. Instead, today’s consumers tend to use their Watch for its built-in functions like getting alerts, responding to calls and messages, controlling music and more.
And with the new streaming API also introduced today, these standalone Apple Watch apps can include a live audio feed — for example, to tune into a sporting event, as demoed on stage.
This could also encourage more consumers to consider buying an Apple Watch. Today, you have to own an iPhone to use the Apple Watch. But now, you could still take advantage of a variety of Watch features and apps without needing to be fully invested in the Apple ecosystem.