The Apple Watch Series 5 is much more than an everyday companion to your iPhone. The new offering from Apple adds updates that bring joy to fitness junkies looking for an upgrade.
The watch tracks dozens of sports, workouts, and activities. What’s more, it also tracks your more mundane activities, like walking around the house, to provide a full picture of your everyday fitness and guide you toward your next goal. It even prompts you to move when you’ve been still too long.
Below are some fitness features of the Apple Watch Series 5 that may get overshadowed by its other capabilities. One thing that hasn’t changed is that you can’t set up the watch without an iPhone.
What’s New in the Apple Watch Series 5?
The biggest change over the Apple Watch Series 4 watch is the always-on display.
That may be a difference-maker for those who already own an Apple watch, but if you don’t, it means you no longer have to raise your wrist to prompt the display to turn on.
The gesture is simple, but in the middle of a workout, it can be distracting. The always-on display eliminates this inefficiency and keeps all your important information ready for you at a glance.
Apple says the Series 5 watch has 18 hours of battery life with the default always-on setting. There are ways to turn that off if you want more battery life.
Location Data You Can Use
The Apple Watch Series 5 includes a compass app, which uses an internal magnetometer and can point the way while navigating. It’s been on iPhones for a while, but the addition to the watch makes it easier to see whether you’ve strayed from the path.
Take your next trail run, hike, or bike ride through a new part of the city with the confidence that you can find your cardinal directions.
Tracking All Day, Every Day
Additionally, you can rotate the crown to see your elevation, incline, and GPS coordinates.
The Apple Watch Series 5 tracks all your movements. Your steps, relaxation, and hours standing are all thrown into the mix for a holistic overview of your daily activity.
For instance, gauging recovery from a run works better when your fitness tracker also records whether you took the stairs or walked a couple of miles while completing errands.
And the watch’s Workout app has tracking modes for several specific workout types. Beyond the obvious running, cycling, or swimming modes are options like yoga and HIIT. The app uses the always-on mode, so your data is visible and the display doesn’t dim.
In cases where you don’t tell the watch what you’re getting up to, it can guess common activities like running or biking based on your movement.
- On runs, a pace alert can vibrate your wrist, telling you to speed up or slow down. That’s subtler than beeping at you.
- At the gym, the watch can sync with treadmills and bikes for heart-rate, speed, and calorie data.
- In the pool, the water-resistant (to 50 m) watch records splits and guesses your stroke.
A World of Apps
The Workout app can do plenty on its own, but you aren’t beholden to it. If you’re already invested in tracking your activities through apps like Strava or My Fitness Pal, you can use the Workout app as a relay to your favorite trackers via Bluetooth.
In the Apple Store, you can find many other sport-specific apps. We can’t confirm how they work, but there are apps offering to track and improve your performance. This could be improving the mechanics of tennis swing, analyzing your ski runs, or using the watch as a range-finder out on the links.
Make It Fun
Some people find extra motivation from exercise classes, group runs, or other social workouts. Apple has a few features that use the same psychology to get you up and moving.
Apple’s spin on motivation is the concept of closing activity rings. These daily prompts challenge (or motivate) you to get up, stand up, and get your heart rate up for 30 minutes.
But there are ways to challenge friends, or rivals, as well. That’s not a unique feature, but a 7-day challenge is a nice spin on things. And if you want to challenge strangers, you can choose from others in the Apple community.
Apple watches can be personalized in a variety of ways. There are dozens of watch faces to choose from, and you have some control over what data is displayed. You’ll always see the time, of course, but you can arrange it so the weather, your heart rate, and your progress toward a “closing a ring” are available to you at a glance.
Then there are the different wristbands, especially the sports bands, that come in several two-tone color schemes. Of course, you can buy a couple of bands, perhaps one for everyday wear and a louder style for training flair.
Sure, these bands in no way change the watch’s performance (or yours), but there’s something to be said for getting away from the sameness of other fitness trackers.
The Apple Watch Series 5 comes in two sizes: the 40mm case ($400) fits 130mm to 200mm wrists, the 44mm case ($430) fits 140mm to 220mm wrists.