Apple Announces watchOS 5 with Competitions, Walkie-Talkie and More

Apple has officially announced watchOS 5, and, with the new version of the wearable’s platform, a slew of new features for smartwatch owners to enjoy. First, the company showcased a story about how the Apple Watch is impacting people’s lives, telling the story of a woman saving her husband’s life as she was able to alert emergency services in a dire situation right from the wearable.

From there, Apple went on to announce the newest platform version, watchOS 5. Which brings “even more ways” to stay “active and connected”. Apple’s Kevin Lynch took the stage to discuss the new features for the newest version of the wearable platform.

Staying active and being connected to information. Health and fitness are “empowered” by the investment of data accuracy.

In watchOS 5, the company is introducing 7-day competitions. One point for each percentage of a ring you close. Progress is updated on a regular basis, with yourself and with your friends who are part of the competition. If you win you will get a specialized reward for doing so.

Workout types are expanding, too, with custom algorithms to measure specific data points, including laps while swimming, and which strokes you are using. There is a new workout type for yoga, which focuses on heart rate. That calibrates with your fitness level with the rest of your day as well. There is the addition of hiking, too, with elevation gain and length of the trek.

In running, watchOS 5 will also keep track of rolling mile pace, which is how fast you ran the previous mile. There is a custom pace alert, so the watch will alert you if you’re above or below. And current steps-per-minute will also be tracked, thanks to a new cadence feature.

To solve late workouts, there is automatic workout detection coming in watchOS 5 as well. So if you start a workout, it will automatically keep track. And even if you hit start later, it will retroactively keep tabs on your workout so you still get credit. And the Apple Watch will also inform you if you forget to stop your workout tracking.

Staying connected, watchOS 5 aims to improve that experience. That includes a new way to talk, with real-time voice and spontaneity of real-time messaging. The Walkie-Talkie feature will let you talk in short bursts with a friend or family members.

First, choose who you want to talk with. The Watch will offer suggestions, too. There is a one-time request for a walkie-talkie request, and, if they accept, you can initiate a conversation at any time. There is a beep-beep sound that notifies of an incoming conversation. It works over both Wi-Fi and a cellular connection.

The Siri watch face is getting new complications, including a resting heart rate, sports scores, and more. There are new Siri Shortcuts, as related to iOS 12, which will let you start a series of events based on your location, the time, and if you request Siri directly. Third-party apps are being used on the Siri watch face, too. So information from apps like City Mapper, Nike+ Run, and more will be supported right on the watch face.

Apple is changing how you activate Siri, too. Now, when you simply raise your wrist and be able to talk to Siri on the Apple Watch. Users will no longer need to say “Hey, Siri” to activate the digital personal assistant.

Notifications are getting advanced for the Apple Watch in watchOS 5, too, letting you tap a notification in some apps, including Uber and others, that will let you interact with them in specific ways. With watchOS 5, WebKit is getting support, too, letting you tap links in Messages and the email app.

watchOS 5 will also support Podcasts. The Apple Podcasts will support automatically syncing new episodes of a podcast you follow, and playback will resume across devices.

watchOS 5 is adding student ID cards to the Wallet app on iPhones and Apple Watch. So you can use your Apple Watch to access places or even buy items, wherever the student ID is supported — both on campus and off. It is supported by a handful of universities with more on the way.

Finally, watchOS now supports a Pride Apple Watch band and new watch face.

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