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 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

tomnavratil Avatar
36 months ago
Still no custom watch faces, that's pretty sad Apple, pretty sad.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macmanlex Avatar
36 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
36 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
36 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
36 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
36 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)

Top Stories

iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...