While the Apple Watch Series 3 was the best version of Apple’s wearable yet and the best sporty smartwatch available (unless you use an Android phone, of course), it was far from the complete package when it comes to health and fitness. Some of the issues can’t be fixed by software tweaks alone, like the one-day battery life, but the introduction of watchOS 5 will improve the fitness tracking experience on the Apple Watch considerably.
The free software update will be released this autumn, but Apple has already announced what users can expect to see. Here are the most exciting features coming to the Apple Watch.
Automatic workout detection
Did you forget to start your workout on the watch? No problem – the device will recognise that you are training and alert you to start a workout, and even give you retrospective credit for the exercise you’ve done before the alert. The same goes for the end of a workout. If you sit down after a run without pressing stop (happens to all of us), the watch will alert you to end the session, so your average pace isn’t skewed by a stationary half-hour at your desk. And speaking of pace…
Running pace alerts
The Apple Watch will alert you if your pace is above or below a preset target pace on your runs. A rolling pace stat will be introduced as well which shows your pace over the last mile. This is very handy for those trying to maintain a certain pace and usually better to use than current pace, which is so jumpy on most wrist wearables that it’s relatively useless.
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New sports modes
Dedicated yoga and hiking modes are coming to the watch, complete with dedicated algorithms for estimating calories burned and tracking active minutes.
In the past you could link your Apple Watch with friends and see what activity they’d done, but soon you can compete with them, which is far more exciting. You compete over seven days with points earned for closing your Activity Rings.
Cadence stats for runners and walkers
Your cadence is how many steps you take per minute and it’s an important stat for runners in particular. Too low a cadence can be an indication you are over-striding and putting your body at risk of injury, so check out your stats when the new feature arrives – a cadence of around 180 is widely considered to be optimal.
The arrival of the Podcasts app on the Watch is a great and overdue addition for anyone who likes to listen to podcasts while they work out, because you will be able to leave your phone behind without restricting your entertainment to music.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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