Apple released today the watchOS 5 software update for all supported Apple Watch models, a major release of the watchOS operating system that brings numerous new features, new and updated watch faces, as well as a plethora of enhancements and improvements to make your Apple Watch experience much enjoyable.
After releasing the iOS 12 update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, Apple now released the watchOS 5 software update for Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 3, as well as the recently unveiled Apple Watch Series 4, which is now available for pre-order and will hit the shelves later this week on September 21, 2018.
watchOS 5 is the culmination of about four months of hard work, during which the new release was available in a beta form only for registred application developers through the Apple Developer portal. It's here to make your Apple Watch device more performant and featureful to make you more active and keep you connected to your digital life at all times while keeping an eye on your health, always.
Major changes of the watchOS 5 release include Activity competitions, automatic workout detection, new Podcasts app, new watch faces, new Hiking and Yoga workouts, new Walkie-Talkie feature, grouped notification, an updated Heart Rate app that can now notify you of low heart rates and irregular rhythm (AFib) on supported devices, and much more you can see in the following paragraphs.
Here's what's new in watchOS 5
Probably the coolest new feature of watchOS 5 is the automatic workout detection, which not only notifies you when it detects one of the supported workouts, such as Outdoor Walk or Running, but it also gives wearers retroactive credit for the workout already started. It also notifies you to end the workout in case you forget.
For runners, watchOS 5 brings long-anticipated features like cadence tracking, the ability to set a target pace during outdoor run activities to receive automatic alerts when you move ahead of fall behind a given target pace. Furthermore, runners can now track steps per minute and view average cadence during runs in Workout summaries.
The new Yoga and Hiking workout types are more than welcome as well, finally allowing us to take our Apple Watch devices with us when hiking those beautiful hills and mountains, as well as when relaxing your body during a yoga routine. As such, your Apple Watch will now accurately report metrics for these type of activities.
The Heart Rate app was updated with a Low Heart Rate feature that notifies you when your heart rate falls below a specified threshold while you appeared to be inactive for a 10-minute period. You can set the threshold between 40 bpm, 45 bpm, or 50 bpm in the Watch app on your iPhone. Also, Heart Rate will now record and show you resting rate, walking average, and recovery rate metrics in the Siri watch face.
New Podcasts app, Walkie-Talkie, and updated Siri watch face
watchOS 5 comes with the long-anticipated Podcasts app that will let you sync all of your Apple Podcasts from your iPhone to the Apple Watch for playing them during workouts via your Bluetooth headphones. The Podcasts app automatically syncs new episodes of your subscribed podcasts, and there's also a Podcasts complication you can add to your favorite watch faces.
The new Walkie-Talkie feature is just what the doctor ordered, as it let you transform your Apple Watch into a veritable walkie-talkie with a simple touch on the new Walkie-Talkie app. It lets you talk with another person that has an Apple Watch with watchOS 5 through Wi-Fi or LTE (only on Apple Watch Series 3 or later). A Walkie-Talkie complication is available as well.
The Siri watch face received a major update in watchOS 5 to intelligently surface proactive and predictive Shortcuts based on your daily routines, as well as various inputs like time of day and location. It can now show various Heart Rate measurements, integrates with Maps for displaying turn-by-turn directions and estimated arrival times for calendar events.
Furthermore, the updated Siri watch face can now show live sports scores, as well as upcoming games for your favorite team in the TV app. Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch Series 4 wearers can now access Siri just by rising their wrists to their mouths and speak their requests, without any press of a button. The Siri watch face also supports third-party app shortcuts.
Grouped notifications, new watch faces, other new features and improvements
A total of eleven predefined watch faces are available in watchOS 5 and can be accessed from the Watch app on your iPhone. These are grouped into four new categories including Breathe, Liquid Metal, Fire & Water, as well as Vapor, each one with up to three watch faces that you can customize to your liking.
The Liquid Metal, Fire & Water, and Vapor watch faces are motion faces that animate when you raise your wrist or tap on Apple Watch's display. The Photos watch face was updated as well to display curated moments from your photo library using a new Memories option.
Similar to iOS 12, watchOS 5 can automatically group notifications together to help you better manage your notifications. Wearers will be able to modify notification preferences for a specific app by swiping left on an app notification in the Notification Center. watchOS 5 is also capable of quietly delivering notifications without interrupting you.
Among other noteworthy new features and improvements included in watchOS 5, the ability to turn off the Do Not Disturb feature based on a set time, location, or calendar event, as well as to enable it for one hour or until the next morning, support for viewing web content when receiving links in Messages or Mail, as well the ability to add cities to the World Clock and Weather apps.
Moreover, you'll be able to re-organize the items shown in the Control Center on your Apple Watch to your liking, view new metrics like UV index, air quality, and wind speed in the Weather app on your Apple Watch, add new stocks to track in the Stocks app on your Apple Watch, answer FaceTime video calls as audio on your Apple Watch, choose to install software updates overnight, and choose Wi-Fi networks in the Settings app.
How to update to watchOS 5
The watchOS 5 operating system is now available worldwide for all Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 2, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple Watch Series 4 users via OTA (Over-the-Air) updates. However, to update to watchOS 5, you'll have first to update your iPhone 5s or later to the iOS 12 operating system that was also released today.
Updating your Apple Watch to watchOS 5 is as easy as opening the Watch app on your iPhone, going to General > Software Update, and following the instructions on the screen. Please charge your Apple Watch above 50 percent and keep it connected to its charger during the entire update process. Please note that the watchOS 5 operating system is not available for the original Apple Watch (Series 0) devices.