Apple is bolstering the Apple Watch’s fitness capabilities with several much-needed, intuitive features.
Major changes are coming with a major update to the Apple Watch ($530 at T-Mobile USA), dubbed . The new update will become available to all Apple Watch 2 ($351 at Amazon Marketplace) and Apple Watch 3 owners Monday, Sept. 17.
Apple Watch ($349 at Amazon Marketplace) users can expect a Walkie-Talkie mode that lets you immediately connect with friends and family with short audio snippets. Third-party apps will be viewable in the Siri watch face. And will be accessible from your Watch.
Some of the biggest updates in WatchOS 5, however, are for the many people who use their Apple Watch to track their workouts and fitness. Here are four new ways Apple Watch will help you close your rings.
Compete with friends
One of the best things you can do for your own fitness is to have an accountability partner. Fitbit, for instance, lets you compete with your friends for the most steps. Soon the Apple Watch will, too.
With WatchOS 5, you’ll be able to challenge your friends to weekly competitions. You’ll be able to track your friends’ progress and see how your progress compares to theirs.
Automatic workout detection
Likely the biggest new fitness feature coming to the Apple Watch is automatic workout detection. When the Apple Watch senses you’re beginning a workout, it will suggest it starts tracking it.
Best of all, if you missed out on a few minutes before beginning to track the workout, Apple Watch will give you retroactive credit for that, too. And if you forget to stop tracking when your workout is over, the Apple Watch will detect that and automatically end it.
More workout modes
Apple also announced 12 new workout modes. Yoga, for example, is now a recognized workout type. As is hiking, which tracks your pace, heart rate and elevation.
New metrics while running
While running, you’ll get new metrics during your workout. For example, while on an outdoor run, the Apple Watch will keep track of your rolling mile pace. You can also set a pace alert to help you keep a target pace. And you can see your cadence to track your steps per minute.
Listen to podcasts
Technically, this isn’t specifically a fitness-focused feature, but it’s not uncommon to fire up a podcast for a hike or other workout. Now, podcasts are coming to the Apple Watch. Your progress in any podcast is synced across all your Apple devices and you can search for any podcast available in Apple Podcasts just by asking Siri.