Apple Watch adds podcasts, competitions, and a walkie-talkie app

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New features for the Apple Watch include podcasts and audio books.
New features for the Apple Watch include podcasts and audio books.

Image: Screenshot / Apple

The operating system behind the Apple Watch will get an update this fall with the new watchOS 5.

At Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, in San Jose, California on Monday, CEO Tim Cook introduced the newest version of the wearable device’s OS, lauding its new apps and capabilities, saying it “brings even more ways for you to stay active and connected.”

Without giving specific numbers, he said the Apple Watch saw 60 percent growth last year.

Kevin Lynch, who leads the smart watch team, first highlighted health and fitness updates. The team studied 6 terabytes of fitness data or about 2.3 million calories burned for “the largest biometric data collection of its kind,” Lynch said.

He announced new competitions and challenges with fellow Apple Watch users, along with automatic workout detection and retroactive workout credit (to make sure you have a fighting chance for those seven-day challenges against your co-workers), and new ways to track other workouts, like hiking and yoga.

Keep track of all your activity.

Keep track of all your activity.

On the connected side of the watch, Lynch introduced a new Walkie Talkie app that let’s you talk to others on their watch through WiFi or cellular data — kind of like a real walkie-talkie but on a connected wearable device on your wrist.

Another big addition: podcasts. Apple’s podcast app will sync with the smartwatch and all your devices. Now you can listen to an episode in the background right from where you left off on your iPhone.

A few other updates include the removal of the “Hey Siri” wake phrase. Instead of raising your wrist and then addressing Siri by name, you can just start asking your question. Other Siri updates from iOS 12 like the new Shortcuts app will be available in the watch.

Notifications will also be more interactive — for example a notification about a Yelp restaurant reservation allows you to change the timing or number of guests straight from the watch.

Also viewable web content will be available in texts and email. Certain web content will be formatted for the small screen, like when a friend sends a link to an event website in an email. You can view a version of the site on the phone, while previously that was unavailable.

Apple Watch celebrates Pride month.

Apple Watch celebrates Pride month.

Ahead of WWDC, a new Pride watch face leaked. At this morning’s event the rainbow screen was officially unveiled along with a matching Pride watch band. The new watch face is available in the gallery starting Monday at noon PT.

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