With watchOS 5, Apple is focussing on the things that the Apple Watch does best: fitness tracking and communication. There are new features that will help you workout, stay healthy and communicate with your friends and family without having to touch your iPhone. Here are all the new and hidden features in watchOS 5.
This is a whole new app just for the Apple Watch. And it brings walkie-talkie like asynchronous communication to your wrist. It’s simple, add your friends and family member to the app, select a contact and then just press and hold on the screen to talk. Your audio will be recorded and sent to the person. They can tap on their Watch to listen to it. And this can go on and on, forever.
Apple is taking the Activity sharing feature to a whole new level. You can now challenge a friend to a competition. Competitions last for a week and you earn points based on the percentage of the Activity rings that you close. The more you workout, the more points you get!
You’ll get personalized alerts while you’re in a competition to help you out. And of course, when you win a competition, you get a special award in the Activity app. And the boasting rights!
Automatic Workout Detection
watchOS 5 now supports automatic workout detection. Mind you, this is not exactly like Fitbit where the app can log the workouts automatically as well. With the Apple Watch, it can detect when you start a workout. The watch will send you a notification that it has detected that you’ve started working out and will suggest you start a workout (with a type that it has detected). Even if you start a couple of minutes late, you’ll still get credit for the minutes you missed out.
Workout detection doesn’t work for every workout but it does support popular workouts like walking, running and so on.
End Workout Notifications
How often does this happen that you forget to turn off the workout tracking? For me it happens mostly when I’m walking. Now, when Apple Watch detects that you’ve stopped workout out (with a combination of heart rate and movement tracking), you’ll get a notification asking if you want to stop the workout tracking.
New Yoga Workout
You can now log your Yoga sessions with the Apple Watch. Apple Watch will use your heart rate to provide accurate metrics like calories burned during a Yoga session.
New Hiking Workout
A hiking workout is a whole different thing from walking or running. This new workout type will track elevation in real time so you get calorie credit for those tough hill climbs. You’ll be able to see calories burned and also how high you’ve climbed.
Rolling miles tells you your split time for the preceding mile that you just ran. This is great to quickly view the performance of your previous mile.
You can now choose a target pace in the Workouts app. Let’s say you want to hit a 7-mile pace, you can configure it and Apple Watch will notify you when you’re running behind.
Cadene is the steps you take per minute. Runners will love that you can keep track of your SPM right inside the Workouts app.
Automatically Synced Podcasts
There’s another new app for the Apple Watch: Apple Podcasts!
The Podcasts app will now automatically sync the next several episodes from your queue directly to your Apple Watch. You can even use Siri to search and stream any podcast. If you like running with your Apple Watch while listening to podcasts on your AirPods, this is a huge upgrade for you.
Upcoming Background Audio Support for Third Party Apps
watchOS 5 will allow third-party apps to play audio in the background and it will make it easy for third-party podcast players to sync podcasts. Come Fall, you can expect third-party podcast apps to support this feature.
According to Apple, this feature will support music, audiobooks and meditation sessions as well. Data will be synex with Apple Watch so you can play it even when Apple Watch is not connected to the iPhone.
Much Smarter Siri Watch Face
Siri Watch face is much smarter and integrating contextual actions. If you’ve just left work, you’ll get a suggestion of playing our Drive Home playlist. As you use your Apple Watch and iPhone more, the more Siri will learn.
Grey Tiles in Siri Watch Face
Siri Watch Face now defaults to a gray background for the tiles. You can go to Customize to switch back to the vibrant Siri colors.
Siri Works With Third Party Apps
There’s a new SiriKit API in iOS 12 that lets developers plug actions right into Siri using the new Add to Siri feature. Once you’ve added these functions to your Siri, they’ll show up on the Siri Watch face as well.
No Need for Hey Siri
Siri now works without the Hey Siri keyword. Just raise your wrist and start talking. Siri will pick up on it.
watchOS 4 will let developers design interactive notifications so you can get things done without opening the iPhone app.
iOS 12’s grouped notifications are coming to watchOS as well. You’ll find notifications smartly grouped based on apps, threads, and contexts. When you tap on a group, it will expand to show all the individual notifications.
View Web Content on Apple Watch
There’s no browser on the Apple Watch but it does run WebKit. So if someone sends you a link, you’ll be able to see a little preview of the page right inside Messages. And you can even tap on links to open them right inside your Apple Watch. Content will be formatted for the smaller screen and if Reader Mode is available, it will default to that.
Improved Do Not Disturb
Just like on the iPhone, you can set contextual Do Not Disturb on the Apple Watch. You can set it just for 1 hour, until the evening or the morning, until your current meeting is done or till you leave your current location.
Student ID cards
Apple will roll out student ID card support right on the Apple Watch. Apple is typing up with many campuses across US to integrate student IDcardss with Wallet. So if you’re at a supported univerity, you can pay for snacks, laundry, dinners and more around the campus with just your Apple Watch.
Edit Control Center Layout
Swipe to the bottom of the Control Center and you’ll find a new Edit button. You can then drag around controls to reorder them. Now that there are 10 or so controls in the Control Center, this feature is really helpful in pulling up your most used controls to the top.
New Wi-Fi Switch in Control Center
For non-LTE watches, you now have the option to turn off just the Wi-Fi, instead of using the Airplane mode to turn off all radios.
New Weather Data
When you scroll up in the weather details view you’ll get information like the UV index, wind speed, and the 10-day forecast.
Your Favorite watchOS 5 Features
What are some of your favorite features in the watchOS 5 update? Share with us in the comments below.