Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of New watchOS 5 Operating System to Developers

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming watchOS 5 update to developers, one week after releasing the sixth beta and two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

To get the beta, you’ll need the proper configuration profile, which can be obtained through the Apple Developer Center. Once the profile is in place, the watchOS 5 beta can be downloaded using the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software Update.



To install the update, an Apple Watch needs to have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on an Apple Watch charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone. It’s best to install the beta on a secondary device instead of a primary device as betas have bugs to be worked out.

watchOS 5 is a major update to the watchOS operating system, introducing Activity Competitions so you can compete on workouts with friends, Walkie-Talkie with push-to-talk functionality for quickly communicating with the people you talk to most, and auto workout detection to make it easier to start and stop workouts if you forget.

Other new features include an improved Siri watch face with support for third-party apps through Siri Shortcuts, a dedicated Apple Podcasts app, new Workout types that include Yoga and Hiking, new features for runners, WebKit support for viewing some web content on Apple Watch, and enhanced notifications, which will make notifications on the Apple Watch interactive.

watchOS 5 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers (because there’s no way to downgrade Apple Watch software), so non-developers will need to wait until the software is officially released in the fall to try it out.

The watchOS 5 update runs on all Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 Apple Watch models, but it is not available for the first-generation “Series 0” Apple Watch models.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Understanding smartwatches

I was wrong. Several years ago I reviewed the first Garmin Fenix 3 smartwatch. This was before the release of the Apple Watch. That’s key to this story. I declared Garmin would have a hard time selling the Fenix 3. The Apple Watch would be better in every way, I pointed out. Therefore, there would be little reason to buy the Fenix 3.

But here I am, in the middle of the woods, wearing the fifth generation of the Garmin Fenix while my Apple Watch sits at home on my desk.

In some ways I was right. The Apple Watch is better by most measurable attributes: there are more apps, the screen is superior, there’s a vibrant accessory market, and it’s thinner, faster and cheaper.

The Garmin Fenix is big, clunky and the screen looks like it’s from a Kindle. It’s not a touchscreen nor does it have the number of apps or band options of the Apple Watch. I like it. To me, the Garmin Fenix is akin to a modern Casio G-Shock, and that’s what I want to wear right now.

Smartwatches are often reviewed like phones or vacuums. Specs are compared, and conclusions are drawn. Wearability is talked about, and functions are tested. If the watch has a swimming option, take it in a pool never mind the fact the reviewer hasn’t done a lap since high school.

I started out doing the same thing with this Garmin. I took it kayaking. I had kayaked twice in my life, and dear reader, I’m here to report the watch performed well on this kayak trip. The watch has topography maps that novel though not useful since the river. It has a cadence beat to help keep strokes consistent. I tried it all. I ended up drinking a lot of Michigan beer instead of tracking the performance of the watch. Sorry.

Still, performance matters to a point.

Here’s my OG review of the Garmin Fenix 5: The watch is significant even on my wrist. The screen is underwhelming though it’s always on and visibility improves in sunlight. The buttons have great tactical feedback. The watch is waterproof to the extent it survived a flipped kayak and hours in Lake Michigan. The battery lasts nearly a week. The watch does not know when it’s on or off the wrist, so notifications will cause it to buzz while it’s on your nightstand.

But most of that doesn’t matter. The Garmin Fenix 5 is exceptional, and I love wearing it.

Smartwatches need to be reviewed like ordinary watches. I need to explain more about how the watch feels rather than what it does or how it works. At this point, several years into smartwatches, it’s not notable if the smartwatch with a smartwatch. Of course, it tracks steps and heart rate and displays select notifications from my phone. If those items work then, they’re not important in a review.

Take a Citizen Skyhawk line. It packs a highly sophisticated complication that’s designed, so the maker says, for pilots. Ball makes a lovely line intended to provide accurate timekeeping for train conductors. There are watches for high magnetic fields, tactical operators, racer car drivers and, of course, countless for divers. Here’s my point: The vast majority of these watches are not used by divers or train conductors or fighter pilots.

This Garmin Fenix watch, much like the Apple Watch or Rolex diver, can be an aspirational item. It’s like the juicer in my kitchen or rowing machine in my basement. I got it because I wanted to be a person who woke up and juiced some veggies before my workout. I haven’t used either in months.

Smartwatches are different from smartphones and need to be reviewed as such. This Garmin Fenix watch has many modes I would never use, yet I love the watch. There’s a base jumping mode. I’m not jumping off a cliff. There’s a tactical mode and a golf mode and an open water mode, and I have no desire to be in situations where I need to track such activities. But I like the thought of having them available if I ever wanted to monitor my heartbeat while shooting targets.

The smartwatch industry is approaching a point where features are secondary to design. It’s expected that the watch will track steps and heartbeat while providing access to various features. It’s like the time and date of a regular watch. Past that, the watch needs to fit in a person’s aspirations.

Everyone is different, but to me, this is how it is laid out: The Apple Watch is for those looking for the top-tier experience regardless of the downsides of constant charging and delicate exterior. Android Watches are those looking for something similar but in a counter-culture way. The Samsung’s smartwatch is interesting and with the new Galaxy Watch, finally reaching maturity.

There are fashion smartwatches with fewer features but designs that make a statement. That’s where this Garmin watch lives and I’m okay with it. Fossil and Timex watches live here too. Using the Apple Watch as a standard, some of these fashion watches cost more, and some cost less, but they all say something an Apple Watch does not.

I’m bored with the Apple Watch, and right now I’m into thinking I live the type of life that needs a smartwatch that tracks every aspect of a triathlon. I don’t need all these features, but I like to think I do. I also don’t need to have a GMT watch with a third timezone, and I don’t need a watch with a hacking movement hand as if I need to synchronize my watch with other members of my special forces squad. But I have those watches along with dive watches and anti-magnetic watches. I’m not alone. The watch industry has long existed on selling lifestyles.

I was wrong before. The Apple Watch isn’t better than this Garmin or most other smartwatches— at least it’s not better for me right now. Maybe two weeks from now I’ll want to wear an Apple Watch and not because it’s better, but because it makes a different statement.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch runs Tizen, lasts “several days” on one charge

Alongside the release of the Galaxy Note9 smartphone, Samsung also debuted a new wearable: the Galaxy Watch. It’s the first Samsung wearable to deviate from the Gear family name, but it looks like a successor to the Gear S3. It’s also the first Galaxy-branded to run anything other than a flavor of Android, as it runs on Samsung’s Tizen wearable operating system rather than Google’s Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear). Tizen works on both Android and iOS, so users will not be limited by the operating system of their smartphone.

By nature of it being a Samsung wearable, the Galaxy Watch will challenge the Apple Watch in many ways. Two of the most important new features to consider are LTE access and battery life. The Galaxy Watch will have optional LTE, allowing users to receive calls, texts, and others alerts even when their Galaxy smartphone isn’t with them. Samsung says its working with over 30 carriers in more than 15 countries to bring LTE-enabled Galaxy Watches to users that want an untethered smartwatch.

Samsung didn’t give specifics about the Galaxy Watch’s battery life, but it did suggest that it may be better than other traditional smartwatches. The watch will last “several days” on a single charge thanks to its new optimized processor and low-power technology built into the device. That’s pretty vague, so we’ll have to test it to get a better idea of what “several days” actually means.

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Fossil announces new update to Android Wear watches with HR tracking, GPS

Fossil’s Q watch line is an interesting foray by a traditional fashion watchmaker into the wearable world. Their latest additions to the line, the Fossil Q Venture HR and Fossil Q Explorist HR, add a great deal of Android Wear functionality to a watch that is reminiscent of Fossil’s earlier, simpler watches. In other words, these are some nice, low-cost smartwatches for the fitness fan.

The original Q watches included a clever hybrid model with analog face and step counter. As the company expanded into wearables, however, they went the Android Wear route and created a number of lower-powered touchscreen watches. Now, thanks to a new chipset, Fossil is able to add a great deal more functionality in a nice package. The Venture and the Explorist adds untethered GPS, NFC, heart rate and 24-hour battery life. It also includes an altimeter and gyroscope sensor.

The new watches start at $255 and run the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip, an optimized chipset for fitness watches.

The watch comes in multiple styles and with multiple bands and features 36 faces, including health and fitness-focused faces for the physically ambitious. The watch also allows you to pay with Google Pay — Apple Pay isn’t supported — and you can store content on the watch for runs or walks. It also tracks swims and is waterproof. The Venture and Explorist are 40mm and 45mm, respectively, and the straps are interchangeable. While they’re no $10,000 Swiss masterpiece, these things look — and work — pretty good.

Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of New watchOS 5 Operating System to Developers

Apple today seeded the sixth beta of an upcoming watchOS 5 update to developers, one week after releasing the fifth beta and two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

To install the beta, you’ll need the proper configuration profile, which can be obtained through the Apple Developer Center. Once the profile is in place, the watchOS 5 beta can be downloaded using the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software Update.



To install the update, an Apple Watch needs to have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on an Apple Watch charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone. It’s best to install the beta on a secondary device instead of a primary device as betas have bugs to be worked out.

watchOS 5 is a major update to the watchOS operating system, introducing Activity Competitions so you can compete on workouts with friends, Walkie-Talkie with push-to-talk functionality for quickly communicating with the people you talk to most, and auto workout detection to make it easier to start and stop workouts if you forget.

Other new features include an improved Siri watch face with support for third-party apps through Siri Shortcuts, a dedicated Apple Podcasts app, new Workout types that include Yoga and Hiking, new features for runners, WebKit support for viewing some web content on Apple Watch, and enhanced notifications, which will make notifications on the Apple Watch interactive.

watchOS 5 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers (because there’s no way to downgrade Apple Watch software), so non-developers will need to wait until the software is officially released in the fall to try it out.

The watchOS 5 update runs on all Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 Apple Watch models, but it is not available for the first-generation “Series 0” Apple Watch models.

What’s new in watchOS 5 beta 6: Apple says that today’s beta makes the status of Walkie-Talkie invitations clearer. Once you’ve sent an invite, you’ll be notified if it’s accepted. As a result of this change, you may need to remove your Walkie-Talkie contacts and re-add them so they “reflect the correct invitation state.”

Apple also says that pairing with an iPhone can take up to five minutes, and Voice Shortcuts will not be immediately available. The Apple Watch Series 1 will also not show reminders to start a Walking Workout in this beta.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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How to Start an Activity Competition With a Friend in watchOS 5

In watchOS 5, there’s a new Apple Watch activity feature that’s designed to motivate people to work out and get active through competitions with friends.

You can challenge any friend to a seven-day competition on Apple Watch, with each person earning points for filling their rings each day.


How to Start a Competition

You can begin a competition on the Apple Watch itself or within the Activity app on the iPhone, with the latter method being the easiest way to get going.

Before a competition can start, you need to be sharing your activity information with the person you’re challenging, which you can do by following these steps:


  1. Open up the Activity app.
  2. Tap the Sharing tab.
  3. Press the “+” button to invite one or more contacts with an Apple Watch.
  4. Choose the “Send” button to send them an invite to share activity data with you.
  5. Wait for your friend to accept the invitation.

Once you’re sharing data with someone, you can begin a competition. Again, this is easiest in the Activity app on the iPhone.


  1. Open the Activity app.
  2. Tap the Sharing tab.
  3. Choose a friend you’re sharing data with.
  4. Tap on “Compete with [friend’s name].”
  5. Wait for your friend to accept the challenge.

You can invite friends you’re already sharing with to competitions using the Apple Watch if preferred.

Just open the Activity app on Apple Watch, tap on a friend’s name, and then tap “Compete” twice through the subsequent menus to launch a competition.

Competition Rules

Your friend will have 48 hours to respond to your invite, with a competition officially starting after 48 hours if the invite was accepted. Competitions will last for seven days, so if your competition started on a Saturday morning, for example, it will end on the following Friday evening.

Competitions start in the morning so no one is caught off guard and so each person has seven full days to complete all of their movement goals. You can have more than one competition going at once, but you can only compete with one person per competition, so you can’t have three or more people competing together.

Each person earns points for closing the Stand ring, the Move ring, and the Exercise ring. Points are awarded for exceeding each goal and hitting additional move and exercise goals.

As with all activity sharing, you will receive notifications whenever your friend completes a workout. If you want to mute these notifications, open up the Activity app, choose the Sharing tab, select a competition, and the scroll down to the bottom of the screen to find the “Mute Notifications” option.

How Points Are Calculated

Each person participating in the competition receives one point for every percent added to the Stand, Move, and Exercise rings, with up to 600 points available to be earned per day.

So, for example, if you exceed your move goal by 300 percent, you’ll receive 300 points for the day. Similar calculations are used for the stand and exercise options.

A total of 4,200 points can be earned for the week, with the award going to whoever earns the most points.

Checking on Your Competition Status

You can view how many points you have compared to the person you’re competing with either through the Activity app on iPhone or the Activity app on Apple Watch.



It’s best to view this data on the iPhone because you can see more information about how the competition is going, with full data for each day of the competition available.

  1. Open the Activity app.
  2. Select the Sharing tab.
  3. Tap the relevant competition listing under the “Competitions” header.

In this section of the Activity app, you can see the total of number of points each person has earned and then a breakdown of the points earned each day of the competition.

You can also see your friend’s total movement, exercise, and stand rankings for the current day, plus steps and total distance traveled.

Sending Kudos

When your competitor completes a workout during the challenge, you’ll get a notification, and you can send a message using the Apple Watch. You can also initiate conversations within the Activity App on the Apple Watch or the Activity app on iPhone by selecting the person’s name and tapping on “Send Message.”


Winning a Competition

When you win a competition with a friend, you earn a badge for completing a competition and a separate badge for being victorious.



From there, you can start a new challenge with the same friend, and under the sharing interface, you’ll see your respective number of wins and losses.



All of your badges can be viewed in the Activity app either on the Apple Watch or on the iPhone.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Apple Closes Apple Watch Heart Rate Study to New Participants

Apple and Stanford University’s School of Medicine are no longer allowing new participants to join the joint heart rate study that they’re conducting using data gathered from the heart rate monitor of the Apple Watch, according to an updated notice on the Apple Heart Study website.

As of August 1, 2018, an enrollment termination date Apple and Stanford first announced when the study launched, enrollment is officially closed. While enrollment has ended, the study does not end until January 31, 2019, and Apple plans to continue collecting data from current participants until the completion of the study.

Note: Enrollment for this study is closed to new participants as of August 1, 2018. If you are currently enrolled, your participation will continue until the end of the study.

The Apple Heart Study is designed to use data from the Apple Watch to identify irregular heart rhythms to determine whether the wrist-worn device can accurately detect life-threatening conditions like atrial fibrillation.

The study was previously open to anyone in the United States who was 22 years older with an iPhone 5s or later and an Apple Watch Series 1 or later.

Participants were instructed to download and install the Apple Heart Study app and wear the Apple Watch. When an irregular heart beat is detected in a study participant, a consultation with a Study Telehealth provider from American Well is offered, with some people asked to wear an ePatch monitor for up to seven days for further investigation.

One MacRumors reader shared his story using the Heart Rate Study app and the accompanying patch after an abnormal rhythm was detected:

I believe that many of you don’t understand just how much effort and expense Apple has spent on developing this research program. I signed up late last year, and several weeks ago they notified me that they had read an irregular heart rhythm on my app.

I called them, talked to a Dr. on line, they sent me a state of the art medical monitor the size of an Apple watch which is applied with a sticky tape over my heart for 7 days, I kept it attached for a week, sent it back (post payed) and they contacted me within 3 days, they had me contact one of their research Drs. who went over the results of the week long monitor, they saw no further arrhythmia, and gave me confidence that the earlier abnormal pattern was not a problem, readings showed my heart strong, and healthy.

With the study now closed to new participants, the Apple Heart Study app has been removed from the App Store. Apple has also removed its dedicated Apple Heart Study webpage from its site.

Apple’s Heart Rate Study in collaboration with Stanford Medicine first launched in November 2017. Atrial fibrillation, a common form of heart arrhythmia that is covered in the study, can indicate serious medical conditions like heart failure and stroke. Afib affects millions of people but often goes undiagnosed, with the study aiming to determine if the Apple Watch is able to alert people of this dangerous condition and accompanying health problems.

Other studies conducted by the team behind the Cardiogram app and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have suggested that the Apple Watch is able to detect an abnormal heart rhythm with 97 percent accuracy. It may also be useful in detecting early signs of other diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea.



Currently, the heart rate monitor built into the Apple Watch (Series 1 models and later) will send an alert if a faster-than-normal resting heart rate is detected, a feature that has saved multiple lives. This heart rate monitoring option can be activated by opening up the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, selecting the heart rate app, and setting your high heart rate notification to the desired level.



While the Apple Watch sends alerts for a high heart rate, it does not notify people of abnormal rhythms or other issues that have been detected, but that could change in the future depending on the outcome of the study.

Rumors have suggested that 2018 Apple Watch Series 4 models will include enhanced heart rate detection features that could bolster the Apple Watch’s ability to detect diseases linked to higher heart rates and abnormal heart rhythms, but it is not entirely clear what the enhanced heart rate features consist of.

New Apple Watch models, which are expected in September alongside the 2018 iPhones, are also said to include a new design with a 15 percent larger display.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Apple’s Wearable Category Sees 60% Growth Year-Over-Year, With Revenue Exceeding $10B Over Last Four Quarters

Apple’s “Other Products” category, which includes AirPods, Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPod touch, HomePod, Beats products, and Apple-branded and third-party accessories brought in $3.74 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2018, up an impressive 37 percent percent compared to the year-ago quarter.

Apple does not break down the specific sales numbers of products in the “Other” category, which makes it difficult to determine specific sales numbers for products like the HomePod, AirPods, and the Apple Watch, but Apple CEO Tim Cook this afternoon provided some insight into Apple’s wearable business.



Revenue from wearables, which includes the Apple Watch and AirPods, saw 60 percent growth year over year, according to Cook. Wearables revenue also exceeded $10 billion over the course of the last four quarters.

Apple Watch had a record-breaking June quarter with revenue growth in the mid 40 percent range. The Apple Watch’s record-breaking June quarter comes just weeks ahead of when Apple is expected to introduce a whole new model, with a larger display, better heart rate tracking, and other improved features as outlined in our Apple Watch roundup.

Cook didn’t go into details on the AirPods, but he said Apple is “thrilled” to see so many customers using AirPods. “It reminds me of the early days of the iPod,” he said. “When I saw those white earbuds everywhere I went.”

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5, AirPods

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