watchOS 5: Everything you need to know!

watchOS 5 reveal

watchOS 5 reveal

The Apple Watch is getting a big upgrade with the newest version of its operating system, watchOS 5. With completely new features added to the Apple Watch for the first time and some changes to some old familiar feature; here's a breakdown of everything that's new coming in watchOS 5.

New announcements for watchOS 5

Apple's Gather Round event didn't release much more information, but we did get an official release date! watchOS 5 launches on September 17!


The Activity app is getting a new feature called "Competition," which will allow you to challenge any friend to a 7-day competition for closing those rings! You can even check on the progress throughout the challenge and earn awards!

During a competition, the personalized coaching will give you feedback and alerts let you know if you're ahead or falling behind your competitor, so you'll always know what you need to do to best them!

Automatic workout detection

Apple announced a few new features for the Workout app, the most exciting of which is automatic workout detection.

watchOS 5 will be able to detect when you start to workout, and if you haven't selected a workout, it will suggest that you start one. It will also give you retroactive credit from when your Apple Watch detected the workout so that you won't miss any important metrics. The app will even remind you to end your workout, too.

New workouts in Workout app

watchOS 5 will give you the ability to track two new workouts; yoga and hiking! Yoga will primarily be focused on your heart rate, whereas, hiking will give you awesome metrics like calories burned and elevation in real time.

Pace alerts

Lots of people already use their Apple Watch as a running companion and Pace alerts will allow users to get even more out of their runs.

Pace alerts will allow you to choose a target pace for your run, and with a simple tap of the Apple Watch, it will let you know how you're keeping up. It will even track Rolling miles, which will allow you to see your time for the previous mile and the mile you're currently running.


With watchOS 5, your Apple Watch will be able to work like a walkie-talkie with the new app, aptly named, Walkie-Talkie.

If both you and your friend have watchOS 5, you'll be able to send small sound bites back and forth just by pressing a Talk button your the screen of your Apple Watch.

Walkie-Talkie will work over a Data or Wi-Fi signal.

Read: FAQ: Walkie Talkie in watchOS5


The Podcasts app finally makes it over to watchOS 5, and you'll be able to listen to your favorite podcasts right on your wrist. Of course, you can also pick up right where you left off on your latest podcast if you choose to leave your office, so you never miss a beat!


Much like iOS 12, notifications are getting an upgrade with watchOS 5. Notifications will now be grouped, so instead of having one notification per text message from your mom, you'll have one notification group you can tap on to read through all of them individually, or even clear all the notifications away at once.

Plus, watchOS 5 now has WebKit, meaning you'll be able to open web links right on the wrist without having to pull out your phone.

You can even schedule Do Not Disturb mode on your Apple Watch. Either set it for an amount of time or even tell it to turn notifications back on when you leave your current location.


Just like iOS 12, watchOS 5 introduces Siri Shortcuts, which lets all types of apps add shortcuts to Siri, letting you add custom phrases that correspond to a specific app to perform tasks.

On top of that, Siri suggestions will now be more robust, learning your app usage habits to be more helpful, offering suggestions on the Siri watch face.

Siri will also be even easier to invoke on the Apple Watch, with Raise to speak. No more saying "Hey, Siri", instead just raise your Apple Watch up and tell Siri what to do, including using the new Shortcuts to order your morning coffee!

Student ID cards

Apple wants to help college students on campuses are the U.S. by allowing students to stroe their Student ID cards on their Apple Watch.

This should allow students to pay for laundry, open dorm rooms and other facilities, even pay for food around campus with the NFC chip.

As of right now, only six post-secondary instiutions have partnered with Apple:

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

Which models of Apple Watch will support watchOS 5

Although not officially said on stage at the WWDC Keynote, the Apple website clearly states that only the Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 2, and Apple Watch Series 3 will be compatible with watchOS 5. Plus, you'll need an iPhone 5s or later that runs iOS 12.

Release date

The first developer beta for watchOS 5 is available right now, with the official public released schedule for sometime in the fall of 2018.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.