Apple WWDC18: watchOS adds communication features to Apple Watch

Apple watchOS will make your life even simpler.

By Vishal Kawadkar

    Apple at WWDC18 previewed watchOS 5, a significant update to its smartwatch. Apple Watch becomes a stronger companion for fitness, communication and quick access to information with a host of new features including Activity Sharing competitions, auto-workout detection, advanced running features, Walkie-Talkie, Apple Podcasts and third-party apps on the Siri watch face.

    Apple WWDC18: watchOS adds communication features to Apple Watch

    Activity Competitions

    watchOS 5 now enables users to invite another Apple Watch wearer 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.

    Auto-Workout Detection

    Auto-workout detection provides an alert to start the correct workout and gives retroactive credit. This feature also offers a reminder to end workout sessions after a period of inactivity if the user forgets. Yoga and Hiking join 12 other dedicated workout types, accurately tracking active calories burned and exercise minutes earned.

    New Running Features

    watchOS 5 delivers new features for running enthusiasts, including 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. A brand new metric - rolling mile pace - is introduced as an additional option for runners to see their pace for the immediately preceding mile in addition to their average pace or current pace.

    Walkie-Talkie

    watchOS 5 introduces Walkie-Talkie, an entirely new way to communicate with voice and just a tap of the wrist. This new watch-to-watch connection claims to be fast, personal and can be activated between any compatible Apple Watch users around the world over Wi-Fi or cellular.

    Apple Podcasts

    Users can now listen to their favorite podcasts on the go with Apple Podcasts on Apple Watch and stream any podcast in the catalog by using Siri. Episodes will automatically sync to Apple Watch, and as they're listened to on other devices, the app will automatically refresh with the latest episode. A new feature for developers allows music, audiobooks and meditation sessions from apps such as Pandora, Audible and 10% Happier to be synced to Apple Watch for playback offline without the user's iPhone nearby.

    Siri Updates

    Using machine learning, the updated Siri now offers more predictive and proactive shortcuts throughout the day based on routines, locations, and information such as heart rate after a workout, commute time with Maps at the appropriate time of day or sports scores for a favorite team. The Siri watch face will also show actionable content from favorite third-party apps such as Nike+ Run Club, Glow Baby, and Mobike.

    Enhanced Notifications

    Notifications from third-party apps can now have interactive controls and be used without needing to open the app; for example, a Yelp reservation notification will have the option to modify the time or change the number of guests right from the notification.

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    Student ID Cards

    With watchOS 5, Apple Watch replaces Student ID cards. With a raise of the wrist, students can gain access to places including the library, dorms and events, and pay for snacks, laundry and dinners around campus simply by adding their ID cards to Wallet on Apple Watch. The program launches with Duke, the University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma this fall. Johns Hopkins University, Santa Clara University and Temple University will bring the capability by the end of the year.

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