Now in its 5th iteration, watchOS is starting to mature. In the last couple of updates, Apple figured out what Apple Watch users care about the most: communication and fitness. And in watchOS 5, Apple is doubling down with more features and refinements across the two areas.
With Siri Shortcuts, upcoming third-party app intimations, and the new Raise to Speak feature, Siri takes the center stage on the Apple Watch. But there are refinements to fundamental features like notifications and do not disturb everywhere. The workout tracking picks up more features as well.
If you’ve just upgraded to watchOS 5 and you want to explore all the awesome new features, check out our list of tips and tricks below.
watchOS 5 Tips and Tricks
1. Interact with Group Notifications
iOS 12’s grouped notifications show up on the Apple Watch as well. When you get multiple notifications from the same app, you’ll now see a stack of notifications. Tap on the stack to expand.
2. Quickly Disable Notifications on Apple Watch
watchOS 5 has notification management tools built right into Notification Center. Swipe left on a notification and tap on the new Ellipses button. From here, you’ll see the Turn off on Apple Watch option. This is a super quick way to disable notifications from an annoying app, only on the Apple Watch. No need to dig into the Watch app!
3. Deliver Notifications Quietly
When you get to the notification management screen, you’ll also see a new option called Deliver Quietly. Once you enable this, you won’t get buzzed about new notifications from the given app. This setting is synced with the iPhone. On the iPhone, you won’t see the notification on the Lock screen either. To go back to the previous behavior, select the Delivery Prominently option from the notification tuning screen.
4. Turn on Do Not Disturb For 1 Hour
When you tap on the Do Not Disturb button from Control Center, you’ll see a new screen pop up. From here, you’ll see a couple of new options. You can turn on Do Not Disturb for just 1 hour, till evening, till you leave the current geofence location or until the current calendar appointment ends.
5. Access Notification Center and Control Center From Anywhere
One of the biggest annoyances of using Apple Watch has been solved in this update. You can now access both Control Center and Notification Center, no matter where you are. Previously, you could only do this from the watch face.
But there’s a trick to it. You’ll need to place your finger at the top edge of the screen and wait till a bit of the panel shows up. Then you can swipe down to reveal the Notification Center.
6. Talk to Siri Without Pressing Digital Crown
Another amazing addition to watchOS 5 is the ability to talk to Siri without pressing the Digital Crown. I’ve been using this feature for a couple of days now and it’s amazing. You just bring the Apple Watch close to your mouth (around 6 inches to your face), speak something and Siri picks up instantly. In fact, I’ve found it more reliable than using the Digital Crown. Because Siri would stop listening at weird intervals when I was pressing and holding the Digital Crown.
7. Adjust Siri Volume
If you’re using the Series 3 Apple Watch, Siri will now speak to you from the built-in speaker. You might want to change the volume of Siri feedback individually. Do do that, go to Settings -> Siri -> Voice Volume.
8. Disable Start and End Workout Reminders
watchOS 5 has new automatic workout detection feature. But unlike Fitbit, it won’t actually start tracking the workout on its own. Instead, you’ll get a notification asking if you want to start or end a workout. For some users, this can get annoying. Plus, it can be a drain on your battery too.
Go to Settings -> General -> Workout and disable the start and end time reminders.
9. Open Websites on Apple Watch
There’s no web browser on the Apple Watch but you can now open individual web pages on your wrist. When you’re in an app like Mail or Messages and you come across a website link, it will now be blue. You can tap on it to see the contents right there. If available, the content will open in the Reader View.
10. Customize Apple Maps Navigation Alerts
watchOS 5 lets you customize the kind of alerts you get on your wrist when using Apple Maps on the Apple Watch. Open the Watch app on your iPhone and select the Maps option. You’ll now find three different toggles for turn navigation: Driving, Driving with CarPlay and Walking.
If you don’t want navigation alerts when you’re driving, disable the first two toggles.
11. Use The New Walkie Talkie App
There’s a brand new Walkie Talkie app in watchOS 5. It basically turns your Apple Watch into a live, one-on-one Walkie-Talkie. This is how it works.
Mark yourself as Available and you’ll be able to receive messages. Select a contact, and just tap and hold the Talk button to record and stream your message. Your voice message will instantly start playing on the other person’s Apple Watch. It will play automatically, no matter what the person is doing. But it will only happen if the other person has marked themselves as Available in the Walkie-Talkie app.
This app isn’t designed as a way to send asynchronous voice messages. For that, you should be using iMessage. Instead, if you want an instant and constant connection with someone via the Apple Watch, use the Walkie-Talkie app.
Read more: How to Turn Apple Watch Into a Walkie-Talkie
12. Play Podcasts on Apple Watch, Offline
There’s a new Podcasts app in watchOS 5. Your entire collection from the Podcasts app on iPhone will be available on the Apple Watch. You can stream any podcast at any time, using Wi-Fi or Cellular. The only caveat is that you’ll have to connect to a Bluetooth audio output from the Apple Watch to start the playback (something like AirPods is a great option).
The Podcasts app will also sync the recent podcast episodes to the Apple Watch automatically if your Apple Watch is charging and is connected to Wi-Fi overnight. Go to the Library -> Episodes section to see a list of episodes that are available offline.
13. Use Siri to Add and Play Podcasts
You can use Siri to play a specific podcast episode, a podcast and even to subscribe to a new podcast. Just say something like “Play The Daily” or “Subscribe to This American Life”. Right now, using Siri is the only way to subscribe to a new podcast on Apple Watch.
14. Switch to Grey Tiles in Siri Watch Face
Siri watch face is going to play a huge role in watchOS 5. Once Siri Shortcuts app is available, and third-party apps start adding the Add to Siri feature, you’ll be able to interact with third-party app actions directly from Siri watch face.
But what you can do right now is change the look of the watch face itself. 3D Touch the Siri watch face and choose Customize. From here, you’ll be able to change the color of the tiles from multi-color option to a more muted grey background.
15. Edit Control Center Layout
Open the Control Center, scroll to the bottom and tap on the Edit button. All the elements will now start jiggling. You can now tap and hold on an element and swipe around to move it to a different place. Now, you can rearrange the controls just the way you like them.
16. Turn Off Wi-Fi on Apple Watch
Speaking of Control Center, there’s a brand new toggle for Wi-Fi here. You don’t need to turn on Airplane mode just to disable Wi-Fi on the Apple Watch.
17. Connect Directly to a Wi-Fi Network from Apple Watch
watchOS 5 also adds more wireless independence to the Apple Watch. You can now log in to a separate Wi-Fi network directly on the Watch. Previously, Apple Watch could only be connected to networks that were enabled on the iPhone.
Go to Settings -> Wi-Fi and choose a network. Use the gesture input to type in the password.
18. Quickly Restart to Custom Timers
If you’re used to setting up custom timers in the Timers app, your life is about to get a lot easier. The custom timers you’ve set up in the past will now show up at the bottom of the Timers app so you can quickly tap on one to start the timer!
19. Clear Website Data on Apple Watch
There’s a new option in Settings that lets you deleted the browsing data from your Apple Watch. Go to Settings -> General -> Website Data -> Clear Website Data.
20. Complete With Friends and Win Awards
There’s a new feature in Activity app that lets you compete with your friends (who also have an Apple Watch). If you’re up for a bit of a healthy competition, you can challenge your friend to take part in a 7-day challenge. In that, activities and workouts of both users will be compared and whoever wins, gets an award in the Activity app.
21. Enable Pace Alert
If you’re a runner, you can now set a pace alert in the Workouts app. When you drop below the pace, Apple Watch will notify you about it. You can choose between an average mile or rolling mile metric when setting the target pace.
Before starting an Outdoor Run workout, tap on the Ellipses menu button. Swipe to the bottom and tap on the Set Pace Alert button. Set the type, the time and you’re all set.
22. Enable Cadence
Cadence is the number of steps you take in a minute while running. Cadence is a good metric to judge when you’re trying to improve your running efficiency and consistency. The Workouts app can now show Cadence in the workout tracking screen. But it needs to be enabled individually.
Open the Watch app on your iPhone and go to My Watch -> Workout -> Workout View -> Outdoor Run or Indoor Run -> Edit. From here, enable the Cadence metric. You can only have 5 metrics enabled at a time so if you’re already full, you’ll need to make space for the Cadence metric by removing something else.
23. Add Cities to Weather App
The weather app in watchOS 5 gets a huge update. The city screen has been redesigned and it’s now much easier to use. You can tap on the circle view to switch between temperature and rain prediction. You can scroll down to see information like UV Index and more.
You can also add a new city to the Weather app directly from the Apple Watch. From the cities screen, scroll down to the bottom and tap on Add City to get started. You can either dictate the city name or scribble it using the gesture input.
24. Add Cities to World Clock App
It’s the same story with the World Clock app. From the list of cities, swipe down and tap on Add City to add a new city to the World Clock app.
25. Add Stocks to Stocks App
You can now manage the Stocks in the Apple Watch app without using the iPhone. To delete a stock, 3D Touch on it and tap on Remove. To add a new stock, go to the stocks list and from the bottom, tap on Add Stock. The only way to add a stock here is to use dictation.
Disable Persistent Walkie-Talkie Icon
If you find that there’s a Walkie-Talkie icon at the top of the screen, it might be because you have marked yourself Available in the app. And it will keep running in the background until you turn it off. So open the app, scroll up and tap on the toggle next to the Available button.
Clear Browsing Data
Now that you can open websites on Apple Watch, there’s an option to get rid of the browsing data as well. Go to Settings > General > Website Data > Clear Website Data.
Force Quit Apps on Apple Watch
You can quit apps on Apple Watch using the Dock. But what if an app crashes and hangs up your entire Apple Watch. There’s a workaround for this. Press and hold the Side button until the Power menu shows up. Then just press the Digital Crown. You’ll go back to the watch face and the app will quit.
Put a Monogram on Your Watch Face
In some watch faces for Series 4, like the Infograph or the Color watch face, you can put up a custom monograph. Go to the watch face customization screen to find the option.
Your Favorite Tips and Tricks
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for using Apple Watch? Share with us in the comments below.