watchOS 7 will bring support FairPlay DRM audio streaming for third-party apps. This will allow apps to streaming protected HLS content using encryption keys.
FairPlay had been available on iOS, macOS and tvOS for a long time, and Apple is finally brining it to Apple Watch via watchOS 7. This will open up the Apple Watch to more competing audio streaming services.
Here are the details of the session in which Apple made the announcement.
What's new in streaming audio for Apple Watch
Deliver a smooth streaming audio experience straight to the wrist. We'll talk about some of the new things for building great streaming apps unique to Apple Watch. Learn how to integrate more audio formats, deliver streams more efficiently through new codecs, and add encrypted content to expand your app's media library. This session builds on techniques introduced in “Streaming Audio on watchOS 6” from WWDC19. If you're new to audio on Apple Watch, we recommend you watch that video for a primer.
As Apple Watch is a low-powered device and deals with different network conditions then an iPhone or a Mac, the session also shared recommendations to reduce network round trips, HTTP redirects, resource prefetching and more.
Apple also shared that it has added support for xHE-AAC (MPEG-D USAC) audio codec, which will help deliver audio at a lower file size while maintaining the same quality.
watchOS 7 will be shipping this fall with new complications and watch faces, cycling directions, sleep tracking, new workout types, hand wash detection, and much more, for Apple Watch Series 3 and later.