Apple's watchOS 5 Adds Automatic Workout Detection, Walkie-Talkie, and More

At WWDC this morning, Apple previewed watchOS 5, the newest version of the Apple Watch operating system. The update adds a number of new fitness and communications features that Apple says will help Watch owners "stay healthy and connected."

autodetectworkout

Auto-workout detection is a major quality of life improvement for those who use their Apple Watch devices for fitness. In watchOS 4 and prior versions, users needed to manually begin a workout in the Workout app — and failing to do so meant missing out on tracking and other data related to their workout. watchOS 5 will use heart rate and movement data to determine if the user might be working out, and pop up an alert to the user to start the workout and even give retroactive credit to the start of the workout. It will also prompt users to end workout sessions if the user forgets to turn the app off.

Also new is an "activity competition" mode, that will allow fitness-focused friends to challenge each other to seven-day competitions, with users getting points for closing activity rings over the course of a week. Smack talk and achievements are, naturally, tightly integrated.

Yoga and hiking have been added to the types of workouts supported, taking into account elevation change and heart rate to accurate measure calories burned and total exercise minutes.

runningfeatures

Runners have received a number of new features that will help keep them on track. A cadence or steps-per-minute metric that works on both indoor and outdoor runs has been added, and outdoor runners gain a new pace alarm that alerts if they are ahead of or behind a target pace. Finally, a rolling mile pace shows the pace for the immediately preceding mile, on top of the current and average pace displays.

applewatchwalkietalkie

A new Walkie-Talkie app lets users send push-to-talk messages (like an old-school Nextel phone) to each other from watch-to-watch, and a new Podcasts app has been added as well. That will allow subscribed podcasts to automatically sync to the device for offline listening, and music and audiobooks from apps like Pandora and Audible will sync to the Apple Watch for offline playback as well.

The Siri watch face has been updated with better shortcuts and suggestions, including sports scores or commute time ahead of your drive home. And actions for supported third-party apps will show up as well.

Finally, the Apple Watch will support on-device Student ID cards, allowing students access to buildings, to pay for food and laundry on campus, and more. It's supported by a number of major universities at launch including Duke, the University of Alabama, and the University of Oklahoma this fall, with others — including Johns Hopkins and Temple University — offering support by the end of the year.

Apple also released a new rainbow-colored Pride watch band and watch face, which is available today.

watchOS 5 is expected to be released later this fall.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 7
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

tomnavratil Avatar
52 months ago
Still no custom watch faces, that's pretty sad Apple, pretty sad.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macmanlex Avatar
52 months ago
Still no custom watch faces, that's pretty sad Apple, pretty sad.
I am SOOOO Annoyed with Apple. I LOVE my Apple Watch, but the watch faces need a major refresh and not Buzz Lightyear. I want them to make creative watch face that professionals will love to have on their wrist. It is not a Childs toy. Please apple, help those of us out who love it as a watch first and everything else after.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RamGuy Avatar
52 months ago
I love how Apple keeps improving Activity and Workout. I find Apple Watch to be the best fitness-companion already and they just keep on improving it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
52 months ago
I forgot about the automatic workout detection stuff. That to me is one of the best new features. There are so many times that I'll be a mile into a walk/run before I remember to start it, or I'll be sitting inside an hour later and realize my Watch is still going and collecting data and I get undeserved achievements for having a long exercise even though I wasn't. The competition stuff is also neat.

Walkie talkie mode is my next favorite feature. Being able to quickly hit up my wife on the weekend while running around doing errands is going to be great. I just hope we have control over when Walkie Talkie mode is active, such as only when I'm not at work, etc.

My wife doesn't yet have an Apple Watch, but perhaps some of these new features will persuade her to let me buy her one this autumn. Her FitBit has been giving her fits (hah) and so this might be the time to lure her over. Her main problem is she hasn't much cared for the look of the Watch.

Too bad there are no custom watch faces yet. Maybe next year…
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ErikGrim Avatar
52 months ago
Heck, raising your wrist and just talking to Siri without the need for Hey Siri is going to make this upgrade.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
technole Avatar
52 months ago
Article should note from the Apple press release, that Series 0 is not supported.


* watchOS 5 will be available this fall as a free update for Apple Watch Series 1 and later and requires iPhone 5s or later on iOS 12. watchOS 5 will not be available on the original Apple Watch. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
apple music

Apple Increases Apple Music Subscription Price for Students in Several Countries

Sunday May 22, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Apple has silently increased the price of its Apple Music subscription for college students in several countries, with the company emailing students informing them their subscription would be slightly increasing in price moving forward. The price change is not widespread and, based on MacRumors' findings, will impact Apple Music student subscribers in but not limited to Australia, the...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...