7 New Features Coming With Apple WatchOS 5

On June 4th, Apple revealed some exciting things that are coming to the Apple Watch at WWDC 2018.  For those of you out there who are wondering if the industry is growing or not, the Apple Watch grew by 60% in 2017 alone.  With the release of WatchOS 5 on Apple Watch 4, that number will only grow.

The Apple Watch is not only here to stay, but it growing in popularity by leaps and bounds.  In fact, of all of the Apple products offered, the Apple Watch is the number one in customer satisfaction.  That says something.

Below are the 6 major features that Apple will be releasing in WatchOS 5.  5 out of the 6 features are really exciting, the first of the six, not so much.  Perhaps you will agree after reading this article.



apple walkie talkie Back in October of 2004, when Nextel came out with their “Push-to-Talk” Motorola flip-phone. I was not a big fan.

I specifically remember standing in line at Best Buy, and the “gentleman” in front of me decided to have a obnoxiously loud Walkie-Talkie conversation for all to hear.  Every time his boss used the “Push-to-Talk” feature, it CHIRPED like an ostrich in pain.

At the time, I remember thinking, “How rude can this guy be?”  Why was he broadcasting his work conversation? Nobody cared what he had to say to his boss, and why on earth did he have the speaker on his flip-phone blaring loud enough to compete with the TV’s in the back of the store?

As I recall, Nextel customers could “CHIRP” as often as they wanted for a flat monthly fee (this was back when you paid for minutes, way before unlimited plans were the norm).  It made him look cheap every time his ostrich phone blurted out a “CHIRP-CHIRP!” The longer this obnoxious conversation went on, the cheaper it made him look.

When I first heard that Apple was intending to offer a “Walkie-Talkie” feature to the next Apple Watch they release, the chirping ostrich phone immediately came to mind.

I watched the streaming video of WWDC 2018 where they covered this new feature that will be released on the Apple Watch 4.  You simply drag a little dot that appears on every navigation screen down from the top to launch it, and then long press on TALK while speaking.  It send the message in almost real-time, (which is impressive). The only difference I saw between the Motorola Ostrich phone and this new software that will also function on the Apple Watch 2 and 3, is that the CHIRP is not as obnoxious, and the volume of the CHIRP can easily be adjusted with the crown.

I’m trying to find something good to say about this feature, but given my experience, I’m having a hard time.  It can be turned off, and you even get to determine who can send you “Walkie-Talkie” messages. But other than teenagers who will use if for the “cool effect”, I just can’t see how this will not annoy everybody around the person who uses this feature, and in short order.


Apple Podcasts

apple podcast icon This is a great feature for those who go to the gym, ride a bike, or out for a run.  It means that if you do not have your phone with you, you can listen to a podcast from your watch.

If you have an LTE enabled Apple Watch, you can stream the podcast.  If you don’t have LTE on your Apple Watch, you can download the podcast to the watch and listen to it, or be in an environment where there is WiFi, (perhaps at the gym).

There is one  podcast apps available for the Apple Watch, (Outcast), which is great, but it forces you to use headphones or AirPods to listen to the podcast.  That’s right, Apple does not allow podcasts to be played out loud on third-party apps. This, however, all changes with the release of Apple Podcast.  You will be able to listen to your podcasts out loud without the use of headphones or AirPods.

With Apple Podcasts, upcoming episodes of podcasts that you are currently subscribed to are automatically synced to your watch waiting for you.  You can even ask Siri to stream a podcast for you and it will start playing that podcast! Playback even resumes across all of your Apple devices so that you can resume playing where you left off.

One tip I would recommend when downloading podcasts: Disable Bluetooth on your iPhone first before downloading the podcast from your watch, otherwise your watch will try to utilize the bluetooth on your iPhone to download the podcast, which is much slower.  Instead, just use LTE or WiFi to download the podcast, which is much faster.


Siri Updates

siri shortcutsLast year, Apple introduced Siri Watch Face, which provides the right information to you at the right time.  It does this using machine learning, meaning that it becomes more accurate over time. It does this by combining inputs like the time of day, your location, your daily routines, to provide predictive behaviors, more on that in a minute.

Now, however, they are adding new content so that you can get live sports scores, commute time from work, or even your heart rate after a workout.

WatchOS 5 will introduce Siri shortcuts, just like IOS 12 offers.  This means that when you lift your wrist, it will show you shortcuts for you to tap, such as ‘start an outdoor walk’, or have it play your favorite playlist for that time of day.  These shortcuts display based on the day in question, the time of day and what you usually do at that time of day. How does it know this? It is always learning your routine. Apple is now allowing third-party apps to take advantage of “Siri Shortcuts”.

No More “Hey Siri”.  Simply raise your wrist and talk to Siri.  This just makes sense. When I’m standing directly in front of my friend, Bill, I don’t say, “Hey, Bill” before addressing him.  That would be a little redundant. I just talk to him. I must say, this is a very nice touch. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt like an idiot saying, “Hey, Siri” before asking it a question.


Enhanced Notifications

Apple is making it much easier to interact with notifications on your Apple Watch.  For example, when WatchOS 5 is released, you will be able to check in and share your flight information with your airline.

If Lyft or Uber make a WatchOS app available, you will be able to rate your ride and pay right from your Apple Watch using Apple Pay.

Should you find your dinner reservation is ready and you aren’t, with the Yelp app, you can extend your reservation out a bit by tapping how many more minutes it will be before you arrive. Or, you can extend your parking with Pay by Phone, all from your wrist.

WebKit will now be enabled on WatchOS 5 so you now have the ability to view mail and messages.  You an even tap on a link with in an e-mail or a message and it will display web content. Now granted, the screen is small, but that means that web developers will now be able to offer content for use on the Apple Watch.  Of course full browsing does not make sense, web content creators can now tailor specific content for Apple Watch users.

For example, say a Salon owner wanted to make their hours of operation available, when visiting their website from the Apple Watch, it might display their logo and hours of operation only.  That is awesome and opens up a lot of possibilities.


Fitness features

apple watch fitness Activity Sharing was huge with the release of WatchOS 4.  With the release of WatchOS 5, it’s even bigger.  “Competitions” has been added to the Activity App by way of “Activity Sharing” where you can challenge any of your Apple Watch friends to a 7 day competition.  Should they accept, you both try to win the week by closing your rings and earning your points.

You earn one point each percent of every ring that you close (in the Activity App).  When in the middle of this competition, your progress notifications are updated to not only show you the progress your friend is making, but also where you stand in the competition.

WatchOS 5 will add new workout types to include Yoga and Hiking, but they have really gone the extra mile (pun intended), with the Outdoor Run workout type, it will even track your rolling mile pace, (how fast you ran the preceding mile).

As if these features were not enough, you can also set a custom pace alert so that your watch will tell you when you are above or below the pace that you have set.  Additionally, they are also adding Cadence, so that you can see your current steps per minute.

Apple is now adding automatic workout detection, something that is not known to the industry, but definitely a huge plus for Apple WatchOS 5.


Student ID

student id Apple is now giving their watch the ability to add your Student ID card to Wallet on the iPhone and Apple Watch.  This means that college students will now be able to use their Apple Watch in the same manner that they would use their Student ID.

Students will now be able to access a dorm, dining hall, or other events on campus simply by checking in with their Apple Watch.  They can get credit for attending class, pay for a snacks, laundry or dinner in the campus cafeteria. At the launch of WatchOS 5, the following universities will be able to take advantage of this feature:

  • Duke
  • Temple University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • The University of Oklahoma
  • Santa Clara University
  • The University of Alabama

Raise to Speak

raise to speak The one feature that everybody will love is the “Raise to Speak” feature.  No longer will we need to wake our Watch up by saying, “Hey Siri”, before making our request.  We can just simply raise our wrist and start speaking. Siri will automatically start listening once you raise your wrist and start speaking. Gotta love that!

I can see how one might think that this would not be a good idea, especially while running or exercising, or for people that use their hands a lot when communicating. Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you want.


In Conclusion

I’m constantly asking myself, “What could Apple possibly do next?” Every time I think that they have peaked, they come out with features I can’t live without.

Just when I think that Apple couldn’t possibly make one of their products better, they blow me away by offering more features and implement things that I had not even imagined.  The Apple Watch is not a dying breed and is only growing in popularity.  Again, the Apple Watch grew by 60% in 2017 alone.  That’s huge, and Apple shows no sign of slowing down.

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