WatchOS 5 will receive new new Activity and workout-focused features when it's released this fall. Competition challenges between friends, new workout types, and workout auto-detection are the key additions.
Friends will be able to challenge each other to weeklong duels, earning points for closing the three activity rings (standing, exercise, and calories burned), while allowing users to compete and motivate each other through progress updates, scoring tables, badges and awards.
Yoga and Hiking have been added to the Workout app, with the latter recording statistics like pace, elevation gain, and heart rate to accurately reflect calorie burn.
Also in the Workout app, the Outdoor Run mode has been enhanced with new rolling mile (speed of the last mile) and cadence (steps per minute) statistics, and pace alerts can be set to ensure that distance runners keep at the right speed.
Currently, Apple Watch owners who forgot to manually start a workout in the Workout app would not have their progress tracked. Now, in watchOS 5, the app will automatically detect workouts through increased motion and heart rate. It will prompt users to begin the workout, offering retroactive tracking to the beginning of the activity. It will also prompt to end the workout, once motion and heart rate decline.
These aren't groundbreaking innovations, but they represent significant quality-of-life improvements for Apple Watch owners.