Apple Watch Owners Can Compete in watchOS 5, Auto-Detection of Workouts Coming Too

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.

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19 weeks ago
I want to buy my wife an Apple Watch just so we can compete with each other, lol. That and the walkie talkie.
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19 weeks ago
I read somewhere that auto workout detect only applies to a handful of activities (running, walking, etc.). The list didn't include biking, which is a real disappointment. I heard that it only included activities that had "regular arm movements" which sounds reasonable, except that Fitbit reliably caught my bike rides all the time.
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19 weeks ago

Would the auto workout detection be a battery hog?

Probably not. Your watch is still recording your signs, it now just uses that data to determine if you’ve started a workout.
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