Developers got an early preview of watchOS 5 today at WWDC 2018 and it’s packed with UI tweaks and a bevy of new features that make Apple Watch a better exercise companion and communication device.
watchOS 5 makes fitness more competitive by allowing you to challenge friends who share their fitness with other Apple Watch wearers. You can challenge someone for 7 days and watch their progress to see who’s winning.
Workouts now support yoga and hiking, both measure heart rate to gauge performance. There’s also an outdoor running workout and pace alerts so you can train better. Apple added automatic workout detection too so it will start tracking your data in case you forget to start or end logging a workout yourself.
To keep wearers more connected, watchOS 5 adds a walkie-talkie mode. You can add friends with an Apple Watch. Then all you have to do is open the app, push to talk, and it sends the message to your friends over WiFi or LTE.
The Siri watch face got some new improvements too with sports scores, maps and heart rate data. Third-party apps finally supported on the watch face. Siri Shortcuts are also going to be available on watchOS.
watchOS 5 integrates webKit with Apple Watch, letting you view web content from your wrist. Full web browsing on your wrist doesn’t make sense, but for short things, it’s handy to be able to see something really quick while on the go.
Podcasts is coming to Apple Watch too. Episodes to your subscribed shows are automatically added to your watch.
Student ID cards are being added to Apple Watch this fall. It only works at a few campuses but you’ll be able to pay for meals, unlock rooms and more.
watchOS 5 will be out later this fall, hopefully with a new Apple Watch to go with it.