Apple’s popular smartwatch will be getting a new software update later this year in the form of watchOS 5. It will add new features for health and fitness tracking, as well as software that aligns with the screen time limitations that are coming with iOS 12 on the iPhone and iPad.
For health and fitness features, watchOS 5 will let you challenge your friends to competitions up to seven days in length. It will also include new workout types for yoga activities and hiking. Runners will benefit from improved tracking for your pace and cadence. Perhaps most significant is the new automatic workout tracking, which will prompt you to track an activity when it detects that you might be working out. It will even work retroactively if you don’t start the tracking right at the beginning of your workout.
WatchOS 5 will also bring a new way to communicate between other Apple Watch wearers, which works similar to a walkie-talkie. Press a button on the side of the watch, speak, and the other person will hear what you have to say. They can then respond with an audio clip of their own.
The Siri watchface is getting enhanced with sports, maps, and heartrate information, as well as shortcuts to the new Siri actions that are coming with iOS 12. It will also support third-party apps, according to Apple. Apple is also eliminating the need to say “Hey Siri” to wake Siri — you’ll be able to just raise your wrist and talk to it.
Notifications are getting improved with more actionable features as well, so you can respond to messages or triage them easier from your wrist.
Believe it or not, Apple is also adding the ability to view certain webpages from the Watch, through new WebKit support. The company says the pages will be optimized for the Watch’s small face and touch interactions.
Other new features include a new Podcasts app, the ability to play background audio, and a customizable Control Center. The Apple Wallet app will also support student IDs from a handful of universities. Apple will be releasing watchOS 5 for the Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 Apple Watch later this year. It will not be compatible with the first-generation watch released in 2015.
Apple did not announce any new Watch hardware today, but it did release a new strap to commemorate Pride month along with a matching watch face.