The world’s most popular smartwatch family (by far) is not getting a new member for a few more months, but it’s obviously getting a fifth software release… detailed and previewed today ahead of a likely rollout in the fall.
watchOS 5 primarily aims to consolidate, expand and enrich the health and fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch while also making a point of bringing users closer together. The somewhat overlooked social networking aspect of the platform is being bolstered with competitions between friends, and you get notifications on your progress every step of the 7-day challenges.
Automatic workout detection is coming to make it a lot easier to just run, bike or hike without having to remember to press a button. Speaking of all these different types of exercises, Apple will let you monitor a bunch of new stats and indicators, including swim strokes, the pace and elevation of your hikes, and cadence during long running sessions.
A fun little feature aptly titled Walkie-Talkie will further help Apple Watches stand out as social connecting devices, supporting both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity to allow almost futuristic wrist communication.
Meanwhile, the always popular Siri watchface is getting third-party apps (huzzah!), as well as sports, maps, and essential heart rate info.
Just like on iOS, watchOS users are looking at enhanced control over notifications, including easier replying to messages. The icing on the cake is probably WebKit support, although you don’t get a full-fledged wrist browser… just yet. For now, certain webpages can be viewed (in optimized form), and we’re suddenly starting to think we may not need phones at all soon enough. Especially with podcasts also supported by watchOS 5.