watchOS 5 for Apple Watch Overview Updated October 9, 2019

watchOS 5 for Apple Watch

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51 'watchOS 5' stories

January 2018 - October 2019

watchOS 5 is an operation system for Apple Watch. It was released on September 17th, 2018. It runs on all Apple Watches except the Series 0 watches. It’s a free update for users who are running watchOS 4.

New Features

Version 5 included a number of new features for compatible Apple Watches.

Activity Competitions

Apple is upgrading Activity Sharing with a new motivational feature: Competition. Apple Watch users can challenge friends to one-on-one competitions.

This social component is especially useful if you’re looking for a new push to increase your physical activity or jumpstart a new workout routine. Competitions run for seven days each and the winner walks away with a virtual medal that proves you bested your opponent.

No group competitions this year, but you can run multiple competitions with different friends if you’re super competitive.

Automatic Workout Detection

watchOS 5 addresses a common complaint about Apple Watch: you need to start and stop workouts if you want the most accurate credit for your activity. That’s because Apple Watch uses different formulas to calculate workout metrics based on what you tell it you’re doing, but watchOS 5 improves this experience.

Workout detection isn’t totally automatic now — the best practice is still to start and stop workout tracking through an app or with Siri — you will now be will nudged you if it thinks you’ve started or ended your workout without starting or stopping a session in an app.

Workout detection supports starting five exercises:

  • running
  • walking
  • swimming
  • elliptical workouts
  • rower workouts

watchOS 5 enables the ‘Start Workout Reminder’ by default and credits you retroactively if you start a workout from the alert, but it’s not a replacement for manually starting workouts — just an intelligent reminder if you forget.

Apple Podcasts on watchOS 5

If you use the Podcasts app on iPhone, the Podcasts app on watchOS 5 will automatically appear and sync. Shows that you subscribe to on iPhone just show up on Apple Watch when new episodes are made available. No need to manage a separate set of subscriptions. Optionally, you can manually select which shows appear on Apple Watch, but it’s not required or default.

The layout of the Podcasts app is similar to the Music app layout. Cover art for updated episodes scrolls vertically. Just tap an episode to start playback. If you want to browse further, you can scroll to the top (tap the time as a shortcut) and find Library. This lets you browse alphabetically by subscribed show, tap a show to specific episodes, or tap Episodes at the top to see all available unplayed episodes.

Alternatively, you can remotely control podcast playback on the iPhone from the Apple Watch. Just tap ‘On iPhone’ from the main view on Apple Watch, then select from Listen Now, Shows, Episodes, or Stations. That’s a handy new convenience, but the real fun is in playing podcasts directly from Apple Watch without the iPhone.

Episodes download for offline playback when available, and brand new episodes show up with a cloud icon and can be streamed over Wi-Fi or LTE. Like music playback, you need Bluetooth audio (like AirPods) to hear your entertainment.

Siri works with Podcasts on Apple Watch too. Use Siri to start playing an episode from your subscriptions, request a show in the Apple Podcast Directory without being subscribed, or subscribe to a currently playing podcast not in your library.

With the new Podcasts app on watchOS 5, the Apple Watch finally becomes a standalone podcast player — just like iPods of the old days, only with Siri, iPhone sync, and LTE in the mix.

We also saw other updates as well:

  • Advanced Running Features
  • Walkie-Talkie
  • Smarter Siri
  • Improved Notifications
  • Student ID Cards

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watchOS 5 Stories October 9, 2019

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watchOS 5 Stories July 22, 2019

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watchOS 5 Stories May 12, 2019

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watchOS 5 Stories April 28, 2019

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watchOS 5 Stories January 24, 2019

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watchOS 5 Stories October 6, 2018

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