Strictly a software event this year, the WWDC keynote from Apple involved showcasing updates and new features to operating systems on Apple’s entire portfolio of devices. This includes the Apple Watch.
Stories are abound on how the existence of the Apple Watch has saved lives. These are dramatic and incredible experiences that have made users re-think the usefulness of the Apple Watch, making it the most popular smartwatch, even with its expensive price tag.
Earlier this year, a 32-year-old man named William Monzidelis became dizzy, and the Apple Watch alerted him on needing immediate medical help. But before he could get to the hospital, he began to lose blood at an alarming rate. Fortunately, he made it just in time to get a blood transfusion and surgery. Last month, a teen was alerted by the Apple Watch telling her that her heartbeat had shot up to 190 beats per minute. She was going through a kidney failure, but survived thanks to a timely alert and action. The number of users who say they wouldn’t have been alive if it hadn’t been for their Apple Watch is getting bigger.
Now, Apple has launched the next version of the operating system, watchOS 5 for this gadget and it brings more features and updates to the much-loved wearable.
First, on the fitness front, the new features will include new workouts related to Yoga, hiking, and twelve other genres. Running will be enhanced with features that include a new cadence (steps per minute) metric for indoor and outdoor runs and walks, as well as a new pace alarm for outdoor runs that alerts users when they are behind or ahead of their designated target pace.
For a dash of motivation, watchOS5 now enables users to invite other Apple Watch wearers to compete in a seven-day activity competition, earning points for closing Activity Rings, while receiving coaching notifications to help stay engaged and win the week.
The watch will now also get automatic workout detection, which means it will know when you start or stop your workout. The user will not lose out on tracking even if the workout hasn’t been manually started in the Workout app on the watch.
With watchOS 5, users also get a brand new communication feature, Walkie-Talkie. A mere tap of the wrist connects the user with friends and family who also use the watch for a voice chat. This works on both cellular and WiFi and makes staying in touch more instant with selected people.
Other features coming with watchOS5 include updates to Siri, which will now feature ‘Shortcuts’ or predictive actions based on machine learning. If, for example, a user habitually calls a cab at a specific time and place, Siri will suggest it and allow the action to be completed from its interface. The Siri watch face will also show actionable content from favourite third-party apps.
The new watchOS 5 will be available this fall as a free update for Apple Watch Series 1 and later and requires iPhone 5s or later with the iOS 12. It will not be available on the original Apple Watch.