Starting with watchOS 6, developers are able to distribute apps built solely for the Apple Watch without a companion app on iOS. Apple was not previously accepting standalone Apple Watch submissions and has also updated its watchOS site for developers.
Apple Watch apps can be installed from the Apple Watch App Store directly on the wrist even when an iPhone isn’t available.
With watchOS 6, customers around the world can use the new App Store on Apple Watch to easily discover, browse, search, and install apps directly on their wrist. And for the first time, you can distribute an app just for Apple Watch, without a companion app on iOS. Build your watchOS apps using Xcode 11 GM seed, test them on devices running the latest watchOS 6 GM seed, and submit them for review.
Apple says that starting in April 2020, all new watchOS apps and app updates submitted to the App Store will need to be built with the watchOS 6 SDK and support the Apple Watch Series 4 or later.
watchOS 6 with standalone App Store is set to launch on the Series 3 and Series 4 Apple Watch models on Thursday, September 19. It will be available for Series 1 and Series 2 Apple Watch models later in the year.
The Apple Watch Series 5, which launches on Friday, September 20, will come with watchOS 6 installed.