Apple previewed watchOS 5 during the WWDC 18 keynote on Monday. The new Apple Watch operating system will feature Activity Sharing competitions, auto-workout detection, advanced running features, Walkie-Talkie, Apple Podcasts and third-party apps on the Siri watch face.
A new “Activity Competition” mode will allow fitness lovers to challenge their Apple Watch-wearing friends to a seven-day competition, with users receiving points for closing their rings over the week long contest. The requisite achievements and smack talk back and forth is of course included.
Users who have ever forgotten manually begin or end a workout on the Workout app will appreciate the watchOS 5 auto-workout detection feature. The new OS uses heart rate and movement data to determine if the use might be working out, and will present an alert asking if they’d like to start the workout. The user will even receive credit for the activity completed before the prompt. The feature will also end a workout session if the user forgets to end it manually.
New Workout Types
Yoga and Hiking are the new types of workouts supported, and will take into account elevation change and heart rate to more accurately measure calories burned and the total exercise minutes.
New Features for Runners
A new cadence (steps per minute) metric for indoor and outdoor runs and walks is now available for runners, as is a new pace alarm for outdoor runs that alerts a runner if they are ahead or behind their designated target pace. A new rolling mile pace metric allows runners to see their pace for the immediately preceding mile in addition to their average pace or current pace.
A new Walkie-Talkie app allows users to send push-to-talk messages to each other from watch-to-watch. The feature can be used between compatible Apple Watch users around the world over Wi-Fi or cellular.
The Podcasts app comes to the Apple Watch, allowing users to listen to their favorite podcasts on the go. Episodes will automatically sync to the Watch, and the app will automatically refresh with the latest episode.
The updated Siri watch face for the Apple Watch will make use of machine learning to offer more predictive and proactive shortcuts throughout the day based on routines, locations and information such as heart rate after a workout, commute time with Maps at the appropriate time of day or sports scores for a favorite team.
Notifications from third-party apps can now have interactive controls and be used without needing to open the app; for example, a Yelp reservation notification will have the option to modify the time or change the number of guests right from the notification.
Student ID Cards
Students will be able to use their Apple Watch to gain access to various places around campus, including the library, dorms and events, and pay for snacks, laundry and dinners around campus simply by adding their ID cards to Wallet on Apple Watch. Duke, the University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma will launch the program this fall. Johns Hopkins University, Santa Clara University and Temple University will join in the program by the end of the year.
Pride Watch Face and Band
Apple also today released a new watch face to celebrate Pride, which Apple Watch users can download from the Face Gallery in the Apple Watch app. The Pride Edition Woven Nylon band is updated with a new rainbow stripe with a donation being made to the following LGBTQ advocacy organizations: Gender Spectrum, GLSEN, ILGA, PFLAG, The National Center for Transgender Equality and The Trevor Project. Apple also introduced new summer band colors in Marine Green, Peach and Sky Blue.
Pricing and Availability
- watchOS 5 will be available this fall as a free update for Apple Watch Series 1 and later and requires iPhone 5s or later on iOS 12. watchOS 5 will not be available on the original Apple Watch. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions.
- The Pride watch face is available to add to the watch from the Face Gallery in the Apple Watch app on iPhone and requires iOS 11.4 and watchOS 4.3.1.
- The new Pride Edition Woven Nylon band is available today on apple.com and will be available later this week at Apple Stores in the US and over 35 countries and regions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and the UK. The Pride Edition Woven Nylon band is $49 (US).
- New colors of the Apple Watch Sport Band will be available to order on apple.comstarting today in the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and the UK. The Sport Band is $49 (US).