At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018, held earlier this month, Apple took the wraps off the next-generation software for its smartwatches.
They are calling it the watchOS 5, which is not really a surprise for anybody, considering it’s an upgrade of the previous-gen watchOS 4.
The much-improved software, boasting scores of new features, will be made available as a free update, sometime later this year; there’s a good chance that the Cupertino-based company will release it during its traditional September event.
Apple has, however, withdrawn the beta version of the update it launched for developers immediately after the June 4 keynote at the WWDC, reportedly, because it bricked some Apple Watch devices.
For those who may not know, a device is said to be bricked when its software has got corrupted beyond repair.
A corrected beta, however, will be released soon.
So, let’s just go right ahead and check out all the new features and upgrades that the watchOS 5 has in store for Apple Watch users.
Activity app competitions
The most exciting update to the Activity App is the inclusion of Competitions, a feature that makes fitness more competitive and, hence, more effective.
It will allow you to challenge your friends to “Close the Rings” over a period lasting seven days, throughout which you’ll receive notifications, informing you about your competition’s progress and motivating you to keep at it.
Activity app’s new Awards tab
Whoever manages to accumulate the most points and closes the maximum number of rings in the Activity App, over the seven-day course of the competition, will be declared the winner and awarded a special medal in the new Awards tab of the Activity App.
Start workout/end workout reminder
Another handy feature in the Activity App is the ‘start workout” and “end workout” notifications, especially for the absentminded types, who are likely to forget to start, or even stop, their workouts on their Apple Watch device.
Addition of 2 new workouts – Hiking and Yoga
The workouts app of the watchOS 5 now has two new exercises, Hiking and Yoga, added to it, taking the total number of workouts in the app to fourteen.
In both the workouts, the app will monitor the number of calories you burn during your exercise minutes.
Automatic workout detection
One of the biggest upgrades to the workouts app is the automatic workout detection feature, which Apple claims is designed for the “most popular workouts on Apple Watch,” including running, walking, rowing, swimming, and elliptical.
Based on your heart rate and movement, the automatic workout detection feature can sense when you are working out and sends you a notification suggesting the correct workout for you.
Many Apple Watch users forget to stop the workout on their Apple Watch after they have completed their regimen; here again, the feature senses the slowing down of your motion and your heart rate and prompts you to end the exercise.
Automatic workout detection also gives you credit for completed workouts.
Rolling miles (splits of preceding miles)
The Rolling miles feature is another brand new metric on the watchOS 5 Workouts App, which keeps track of your pace for your previous mile, as well as your average and current pace.
The Workout App also boasts a new pace alert for outdoor running that alerts you when you’re ahead or lagging in your pace – a feature that should go down well with outdoor runners.
Cadence tracks the number of steps you’ve taken in a minute (steps per minute, or SPM) as you run or walk, both indoors as well as outdoors.
The new Walkie-Talkie feature of the watchOS 5 allows you to add friends, who are also Apple Watch users, to the app.
Once set up, you can communicate with them over Wi-Fi or LTE through voice messages.
While the walkie-talkie is a new inclusion in the upcoming upgrade, it is not a new idea, though, as Apple was supposed to include this feature in the original Apple Watch, all the way back in 2014.
Apple announces a Walkie-Talkie app for the Apple Watch. Here's a little secret for those Apple history fans: this was actually announced all the way back in 2014, but it never was released. https://t.co/L6sx0jjSlQ
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) June 4, 2018
The Podcasts App is making its debut on the watchOS 5 and it’s a complete no-brainer, as it allows you to stream podcasts directly to your wrist with the help of Siri, and even set it up to automatically sync your favorite podcasts with the app.
Also, a new feature will allow developers to sync music, audiobooks and meditation sessions to the Apple Watch so you can enjoy these third-party offerings offline.
The watchOS 5 brings some improvements to the Siri Apple Watch face, as it will now feature sports scores, maps and heart rate data.
With the help of machine learning, the new Siri watch face will now be able to show you the right cards, based on time, location, and day of the week.
watchOS 5 will also allow you to add third-party Siri cards to the Apple Watch.
Here are some of the other mention-worthy features of the watchOS 5
CONTROL CENTER & NOTIFICATION CENTER
- Access Notification Center from inside apps
- Grouped notifications
- Instant manage notifications
- Access Control Center from inside apps
- Rearrange Control Center toggles
- Airplane mode toggle colors
- Connect directly to a Wi-Fi network
WORLD CLOCK APP
- Different location list color scheme
- Add and remove cities
- Sunrise and sunset text replace glyphs
- New “checking for mail” text on pull to refresh
- New “last updated” text at top of inbox
- View web content previously not viewable on watch
- New Send and cancel buttons when composing new email
- New redesigned buttons when filling in Mail fields
watchOS 5 COMPATIBILITY
The only apparent downside to the watchOS 5 upgrade is its incompatibility with all generations of Apple Watch devices (it is available only for Apple Watch Series 1).
Plus, you need to have an iPhone 5S, or a later model, with nothing less than iOS 12 onboard, to be able to download the free upgrade.