watchOS 5 Introduces Improved Workouts, Walkie-Talkie, Podcasts, and More

Apple today announced watchOS 5, the latest version of its Apple Watch operating system.

Announced by Apple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC, watchOS5 features new updates including updated algorithms for health and fitness, a walkie-talkie feature, 3rd party app support, and a better way to talk to Siri.

“We’re thrilled with the positive impact Apple Watch is having on people’s lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Apple Watch is helping our customers stay connected, enhance their fitness and, in many cases, detect life-threatening conditions. With the launch of watchOS 5, we’re excited to introduce new activity and communications features that will take the Watch to a whole new level.”

First up are various health and fitness tracking improvements on the smartwatch. According to a new press release from the Cupertino company, watchOS 5 makes fitness more competitive by allowing users to challenge friends who share their fitness with other Apple Watch wearers. Users will be able to challenge someone for seven days and watch his or her progress to see who’s winning.

Workouts now support yoga and hiking, measuring heart rate to gauge performance, and there’s also an outdoor running workout and pace alerts so you can train better. Apple Watch will also automatically start tracking workouts when vigorous movement is detected, and the watch will automatically activate Siri when users raise their arms.

watchOS 5 also introduces Walkie-Talkie, a feature that lets users send quick voice memos from person to person. It works over Wi-Fi or cellular connections, and users can send quick real-time audio from watch to watch.

The new operating system will also support Siri’s newly-announced Shortcut app, and users will no longer have to activate Siri with a voice prompt as lifting your watch to your face will automatically cause Siri to listen for a command. Additionally, the Siri watch face introduced last year is gaining live sports scores, commute time, and heart-rate tracking.

Another new feature for watchOS 5 is the addition of Podcasts to the Apple Watch. Users will be able to listen to their favourites on the go, thanks to automatically synced episodes.

watchOS 5 comes with a ton of smaller, yet useful features. Third-party apps will be able to play background audio, users will now be able to customize the control centre, add an air-quality rating to your watch face, and add one’s student ID card to the watch.

While Apple has official unveiled watchOS 5, it’s only available via developer beta. Apple will likely release the final version of WatchOS 5 when it announces its newest hardware later this year.

Check out Apple’s full press release on watchOS 5 here.